Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Succeeding in a video conference, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- Successful video conferencing is all about preparation and execution. We've all been in meetings with the other person's camera is too close to their face or the lighting is so bad we end up guessing facial expressions. Whether you're presenting information or just having a business conversation, use these tips to ensure both you and your audience have a positive experience. Let's first go over how to prepare for a successful video conference. Mind your background. Because a video conference is locked into a single camera, take time to manage your background.
Messy papers, stacked up books don't make you look like an authority, they just add clutter. Watch out for furniture that matches your clothing color as well. Choose pleasing color contrasts. You also don't want distracting background noise to distract your conference. Close windows, unplug phones and noisy electronic equipment. If you are in an office, put a do not disturb sign on the door. Lighten up. Set up the camera to eliminate any direct source of background light.
Close all window blinds. Overhead lighting works best but if it casts heavy shadows, use an off camera desk lamp to soften them. Aim for the camera. I like to stick a Post-it note right by laptop camera lens to remind myself of where to look. Video conferencing can be a great alternative to face-to-face meetings but the tendency is to stare at the computer screen instead of the camera. Sit up. Because the lens is locked on you, it's important to project a comfortable yet professional posture.
Choose a chair that prevents you from slouching or swiveling during your video conference. Plan ahead for technology use. Test the audio for volume, echo or other distortions, recheck visuals for clarity, make sure your internet connection is stable and strong and turn off any audio computer prompts you may use such as email or messenger. Now that you're on your call, here's a checklist for execution success.
Vocalics matter, use your voice to its fullest. Keep it varied by changing your pace, pitch and volume, emphasize or even repeat certain words or phrases, don't be afraid of pausing, strive to sound conversational and natural. Focus on nonverbals. Video conferencing creates a gap in speaker switching cues that doesn't occur in face-to-face communication so pay extra attention to the other person's rhythm and vocal pauses to avoid interruptions.
This is especially important when you're speaking to more than one person. Mind your distractions. A common mistake video conference users make is forgetting that the camera's always on, it will pick up every fidget, scratch, yawn or repetitive motion you make. Finally, keep your image in check. When you do your camera and audio check also note how your own image appears on the computer screen. Glare from your glasses or a messy hair day can be distracting.
Always keep your speaker image visible on your screen to get the perspective of your listener. Video conferencing done right can be an effective means of staying in touch that can save the time and expense of travel to meetings. Keep these tips in mind and you can make every video conference an effective and stress-free experience.
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