Video conferencing technology has evolved throughout the years – whether it’s because of Moore’s law, cloud infrastructure, the popularity of voice-over IP services, or the Internet, video calling is now no longer the hassling and encumbered process that it was about a decade ago. But even so, if you’re planning to talk to a client or host a meeting, you should first make sure you’re doing it right.
There are a lot of subtle beginner mistakes when it comes to video conferencing – following a few simple tips will help you clean up your conference and come across as a true professional, with practically no effort. No messy IT fiasco, no high-tech equipment, no memorizing of a dozen different wires and numbers. It’s quite simple, and done within five minutes.
Be Sure to Get the Lighting Right
Anyone who’s ever been interested in photography knows the importance of lighting. What we see is generally light reflected off of an object, so how light enters a room and frames a picture is vitally important to the picture’s quality and purpose.
The same can be said for video. Avoid setting your camera up in front of a light source – instead, set it up in a way that the light source is behind your camera and is clearly illuminating you. Use natural light to your advantage as much as possible – if you have an office window facing the sun, then try to set your camera up to face the opposite wall.
Indirect sunlight is the key here. As AndrewJensen.net explains, a British study concluded that natural lighting created a healthier work environment than artificial lighting – and boosted productivity. The glare from the sun will reflect off of your face, and it may take a bit of time for your camera to adjust to the exposure. However, that means that you also have to stage your conferences right – they can’t be too long, and they have to take into account how the sun moves.
For example – if your window is facing west, then you’ll have the morning hours to do your video – once the sun moves over your building and the afternoon begins, you’ll have trouble with glare. Don’t start your video too early, or you won’t get adequate lighting. Between 10:00 am and noon is a good benchmark. The same can be said about having a window facing east – only that you need to hold your conference in the early afternoon hours.
If you’re using artificial lighting, the same rules apply – use light sources behind your camera.
Keep Your Camera Angles in Mind
Camera angles are important. The most important factor in your angle is making sure it’s facing you, properly. You’ll need to frame your head and shoulders, preferably from an angle as close to your monitor as possible. We all have the instinctive habit of checking what we look like in the camera on the screen instead of looking at the camera itself, much like we’re used to using mirrors to see each other – so to avoid your glare being constantly off-screen, your best bet is to simply have a mount-on quality webcam.
Another important factor for your video conferencing camera, especially in large calls through providers like Blue Jeans, is the angle you’re sitting in. The way you sit instantly creates a narrative in the minds of your audience. Don’t lean in too much or you’ll intimidate your audience, and don’t lean back too much or you’ll seem aloof. It’s best to remain neutral with a slight lean back, so as to “welcome” participation in the conversation. Don’t cross your arms, and preferably don’t keep your hands clasped together in any way – keeping them apart is natural body language for “here to help”, a good thing to be saying subliminally during a business conversation.
Make Use of Your Tool’s Capabilities
Premium video conferencing services are quite a bit different than your average VOIP service. You’ll be given the ability to seamlessly share files and stream screens, but also present documents and presentations within the call, and play video files.
As the human attention span wanes, it’s important to keep your message succinct and relevant – and visual imagery is a good way to achieve that, as Socialbakers.com points out through its statistic that 93 percent of Facebook’s most engaging content has come in the form of photo posts.
Double-Check the Schedule on Everyone
Finally, before you start a call, be sure to send all your participants an email a few hours before to make sure they’re all on schedule. Video conferences tend to be about bringing several people together between different time zones – and in today’s hectic work environment, it’s not rare to lose track of time or forget an arrangement. Having a clear, updated schedule can eliminate any hassles you may have had had you not sent out a reminder.