. Many of us are working from home and video conferencing calls are now the new norm. You might be talking to colleagues many times a day, or with customers or your management so you need to be consistent and behave appropriately.
But you might also be applying for a job and have been selected for a video conference interview!
Here are some Tips and Tricks to ensure your presentation in any situation is always the best it can be because a home office might be the way you will be working for quite a while.
Find the most flattering lighting in the room you are using. It should be soft and diffused and not hard and bright. The ideal is natural light from a window.
Finding the best light is important as it will ensure that your face is evenly lit and does not cast shadows. People need to see all of your face when they are talking with you. If the light comes from above or the side your face will be uneven and in some shadow, equally if you sit with your back to the window your face might be almost dark.
With your mobile phone walk around the room finding the best light and if you can, set up your computer or laptop in that position. As you move around you will see where the shadows on your face change.
If you sit facing a window your whole face will be visible. If you don’t have a window use a lamp in front of you behind the laptop so it acts in the same way.
Find the camera angle that is best for you. If you are looking down at it you will add the shadows you have just got rid of and your face will be distorted in shape.
The best angle is if the laptop is set up just below chin height, on some books or a box, that way you are looking slightly up at the camera.
Don’t sit too close to the camera because the wide angle will distort your face. Equally, don’t sit too far away because it will take in too much of the room behind you and you will appear too small.
Don’t look at your desk but look directly into the camera lens. It is very tempting to do this as it is a habit when you are working on your own. It is so much better if you look up as it will seem like you are talking to them face-to-face.
If you are working with just a mobile phone rather than a laptop or monitor camera it will be important to fix it in some way to ensure it will hold steady and enable you to have your hands free to work. You can buy a small tripod so it can be angled to exactly the right position or if you have a pop socket on the back of your phone you can just attach it to a mug!
Dress appropriately for your normal working day, even if it is just head and shoulders. Casual wear is fine if your business is more relaxed; suited and groomed if you need a more formal tone. Wear exactly what you would wear in the office in the first week at home and see what everyone else is doing. If the dress codes relaxes so can you. Make sure you gauge what the management is expecting. The bottom line is that colleagues want to see the normal you that they see every day at work. Remember you have to go back to that real life at some time and a complete 360 degrees might be difficult to reconcile.
This will be difficult as you might not have the perfect desk and chair setting that you have at work. Try different combinations and see which works best. Ask a friend to VC you so you can try them out. The reason for this is not just comfort whilst you are working but more importantly posture. Slouching, leaning back on your chair away from the camera, working on a bed, or hunched over on the desk gives an impression of disconnection, disinterest and being bored with what is being said. Sitting up with good posture gives nonverbal signals of energy, alertness, interest and enthusiasm.
And the smile is all important as it projects a warm and non-confrontational persona. Take a moment to look into the camera, smile and greet the person at the beginning of the meeting.
Keep distractions to a minimum.
Check whether your camera has a wide angle view and see what will be visible. If it is just head and shoulders you can make sure your background is neat and tidy. If it is a complete mess it will be highly distracting. Your colleagues or customers or potential employers will be curious to see what you have behind you. If they think it is a tip this might reflect on you later.
Once your background is kept this way it means you can sit down to a scheduled or impromptu meeting without having to rush around beforehand. Some meeting apps have the option to blur the background which is handy if you cannot control your office space.
Scratching your face, touching your hair or playing with your beard will all add a subconscious tension to the meeting. Drinking, in particular, breaks up the flow of the conversation and everyone has to wait for you to be ready.
We all know that not everyone has a desk where they can shut the door. If you share a space in the household then try to make arrangements for when noise should be kept to a minimum. If a call will only take 30 minutes ask for just that time to be relatively quiet and then when the call is over the noise levels can take over again!
Best of luck everyone!