Five Rules for Video Conferencing

I’ll be honest with you – there have been times in my career when I was truly grateful for the absence of cameras. No need to go into details, but suffice it to say, that it is much easier to cultivate a professional image in a well-ordered office building than surrounded by evidence of the presence of Pugi, Mac and Aspen (pug, pug and standard poodle – aka the Evil Genius, The Dog who Barks at the TV and the Noisy Vigilante) and the occasional intra-office  disaster. As video conferencing increases in popularity, more and more workers are joining meetings by video from wherever they are.

Fortunately there are ways to engage by video and protect your image at the same time.

1: Background check. Launch your video application and test different camera angles and backgrounds. If your back is to a window, for example, you may be so heavily backlit that you are barely recognizable. This can be a benefit if you didn’t manage to shower before your meeting, but is otherwise considered undesirable.

2: Camera position. Try to have the camera positioned directly in front of your face. This might mean elevating your laptop or tablet and moving it closer than normal. You want to avoid appearing on screen as two giant nostrils (camera below your chin, pointing up) or as a headless chest (the opposite).

3: Screen your background. This can mean checking to be sure there are no objectionable titles on the bookcase behind you, or it could mean literally setting up a screen to block something you’d rather not share with the world.

4: Mute strategically. In a multi-party conference, chances are will be listening rather than holding forth for long stretches of time. When that happens, make it your standard practice to hit the “mute” button. No need to call attention to your corner of the screen with sounds of a ringing doorbell, barking dog, frantic teenager etc. Just remember to unmute when you want to speak–unless your co-workers all happen to be accomplished lip readers.

5: Remove your square. In many video applications, the default layout lets you watch everyone else in the conference….and yourself. Take the time to ensure the camera angle, lighting and background are spot-on before you join the conference, and then turn “self-see” off. It’s human nature to be distracted by your own image. You will enjoy the experience more and interact more naturally if you let yourself go.

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

One Response to Five Rules for Video Conferencing

  1. Brad Fujii says:

    All great rules! Remember the days when you had to have mammoth video conferencing systems that cost five figures, not to mention the ISDN line? The prevalence and immediate availability of video today make your suggestions that much more relevant and timely.

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