Oh, the wonderful, and tricky, world of web conferencing. It seems like more and more of our work is being done virtually, creating a whole new potential for the meaning of “business casual.”
We’ve gotten questions time and again about communicating yourself over a webcam. To answer that call, here are a few shortcuts to help you step up your web conferencing game:
Look at the camera. It’s tempting to check yourself out or to check in on your audience, as you would if you were live. Instead, look toward the top of the screen (that’s most likely where your webcam is, although not necessarily if you are on a tablet).
If possible, move your video windows to place your audience as close to the webcam as possible. It’ll make it easier.
Look into the camera when you are speaking. Then, check in for reactions after you are done speaking. You will come across as though you are looking directly at your viewer(s).
Have light facing you. That’s how they make celebrities look so good on camera! Conversely, make sure you don’t have light streaming in behind you from a window. It creates a shadow and makes you harder to see.
Keep your background simple. Even if you’re calling in from home, you probably don’t want the dirty laundry hamper right behind you. The plainer your background – the more focus will be on you.
Find a quiet place. As much as you might love sitting at Starbucks and calling into a web conference, it can be incredibly distracting for others to hear all that background noise on the conference. Between the espresso machines, the music, orders being called out, and bits of other conversations making it into the background – it’s just too much. This guidance also applies for conference calls.
Turn off any programs you don’t need. I was recently on a web conference and sharing my screen – when voila! – a message popped up in the background from WebMD that, let’s say, was a bit more personal than I had intended to share. Lesson learned: close out the programs and websites you don’t need – you don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised.
If you follow these tips, you can still be business on the top, casual (read: pajamas) on bottom.
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