By Paula Bosler and Jennifer Watler
Since we’ve been at it for more than six months now, we’re all getting pretty good at the Zoom/virtual video meeting game. Fortunately, the technology is pretty great and simplified for those of us not fluent in the inner workings of HD, file sharing and the old analog vs. digital discussion.
At Haj Media, we like to read every best practice list that comes our way. There’s always something out there that can help improve your “Room Rater” score. Here are some of the latest tips we have compiled from several “best” lists for your next virtual meeting or interview.
1. Check Your Surroundings / Choose Your Best Location
Be careful when choosing a location to conduct your video interview.
Make sure to check the lighting ahead of time and stay away from windows that might create harsh shadows. It’s best to start with lighting because that will dictate where you are sitting. It is recommended to have your largest light source either right in front of you or no more than 45 degrees away from directly in front of you. Also be aware that your screen can be a large source of light, so adjust your screen brightness, if necessary.
The background is important. Make sure the area behind you is not distracting and enhances your conversation. Clutter isn’t useful and a well-kept background improves your overall impression.
The location needs to be a quiet place, free from background noise and any potential distractions.
2. Prepare Your Equipment
Perhaps the most important thing is making sure that your equipment is working correctly.
There’s nothing worse than getting disconnected or having a spotty internet connection.
Test your video and microphone beforehand. If possible, ask a friend to video chat with you using the platform you will be using.
Consider using “subtle” in-ear headphones. Lags in connection and internet blips can easily create an echo, delay or other sound disruption that can be lessened with headphones.
For high level meetings or interviews, you will want to use an Ethernet cord to guarantee that you will have a reliable internet connection.
If you are using Wi-Fi, make sure other people in your residence are not using the internet for activities like streaming television or doing other activities that require a high internet connection.
Close all open web browsers that might be using the Wi-Fi, so they don’t cause distractions or affect your connection.
Make sure to position your webcam at eye level or a bit higher. You can use a set of books, a stool, or a higher table to make sure your camera is at the same level as your eyes. You don’t want people to feel like they are looking up or down at you.
3. Conquer Your Body Language
You don’t want to look super close up, so sit far enough away so that your upper body is visible.
Frame your body correctly with your shoulders in the frame.
Be sure to sit up straight with both feet on the floor.
One of the most significant things you can do during a video discussion is to maintain eye contact. Look into the camera when you are talking, not at yourself. If you’re looking at yourself on the screen while you’re talking, it will seem like your attention is elsewhere. Direct eye contact into the camera while speaking gives attendees the impression that you are looking at them rather than off to the side, which creates an environment where everyone feels engaged and present in the conversation.
When speaking, use hand gestures when appropriate or otherwise leave your hands in your lap or on the table/desk in front of you.
When listening, nod and smile, as appropriate, to show you are engaged.
4. What To Wear
To look your best on camera, avoid bright colors and patterns and opt for softer, solid colors instead. If you are wearing a tie, wear a solid color rather than a patterned one.
If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.
Remove jewelry that moves, makes noise or could hit your microphone or headphones.
5. Some Final Tips
Speak slowly and clearly.
Mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
Make sure any nearby phones are in silent mode.
Have any notes and/or a glass of water off to the side but easily accessible.
Perhaps the most important thing = Relax & Be Yourself!