14 Mar

CoVid-19 Video Conferencing Tips

CoVid-19 has you WFH which means all your meetings are now on video conference. Read my tips below so you can VC like a BOSS and finally upstage all your lackluster co-workers.

Check your lighting before your call starts. Open your computer’s camera and check out which way the lighting in your room works best for you. I face my laptop north, south, east and west and see which direction lights me the best. Trust me, you’ll know when you find it. Keep in mind, you never want to be backlit. So no lamps, lights, or open windows behind you. The light should be coming from behind your camera.

Make sure you have enough bandwidth to handle the streams (i.e. nobody should be playing Fortnite or streaming to Twitch in the other room. Sorry Grandma.) Maybe even plug into an Ethernet port if possible. Run a speed test to make sure you have a good connection.

What are you wearing and what is your background? Check out this video of Joe Biden doing a teleconference town hall. The wall in the background is white and so is his hair, so we are losing the top of his head into the wall. It looks weird. **Side note: he does many other weird things in this five minute clip – i.e. walking around off camera. JoeJoeB, what are you doing!? EMAIL ME! YOU NEED MY HELP!** Back to the topic of clothes, consider wearing solid colors and keeping your background neutral, even if it means you have to temporarily take down some wall art or set yourself up in front of a door. You want to be the star of the video conference, not that psychedelic painting your sister-in-law made when she was a freshman at RISD. Also, have some fun with your bottoms. It is unlikely anyone will see them, so I like to wear a business look up top, and get creative with what I’m wearing underneath. i.e. Tennis skirt, polka dot shorts, mermaid tail. Why not, right?!

After you do the obligatory gag of pretending you can’t hear the people on the other end of the call (oh wait, that’s just me?), check in for real. Make sure your sound is okay and no one is hearing an echo. It’s polite to ask the person, or people, in the video conference if they’re hearing you okay. I usually wear headphones because it helps prevent that annoying tinny echo sound that often permeates video conference calls. It is also polite to mute your audio when others are talking. It does mean you have to remember to unmute when you want to talk, but if there are a lot of people on the video call, muting yourself will be much appreciated so the whole conference doesn’t have to hear you typing – or farting. I’m talking to you, Bart X.

If you’re one of those people who can’t stop looking at yourself in the small frame in the corner of your screen the whole time, move that frame as close to your camera as possible, so it at least APPEARS like you are looking at the camera. Better yet, hide that frame entirely. If you can’t hide the little frame or move it to a better location, put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it every time you catch yourself looking at yourself. Eventually your brain will learn to stop. The goal is to look either at the camera or the big screen showing the person/people in the call. You’re gorgeous, but you know that, so stop watching yourself every second of the day!

Assuming multiple people are in the call, keep everyone engaged by periodically inviting different people to speak. This is the responsibility of whoever organized the video call. So, Organizer, make sure you’re keeping careful track of who has spoken. Otherwise it is far too easy to disconnect and start playing Candy Crush on your phone.

VC No-No’s:
Eating food in front of everyone.
Moving around your house holding your laptop/phone.
Leaving the TV on in the background.
Forgetting to tell your kids to stay the heck out.
Forgetting to tell your partner to stay the heck out.
Forgetting to tell your handyman/ housekeeper/ horse-trainer (perhaps all the same person?) to stay the heck out.
Doing the VC while lying in bed with a sleep mask on.

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