Zoom, Meet or Teams. No matter which platform you use, video meetings are here to stay. And that means everyone involved – participants and hosts alike – need to work on their virtual meeting skills.
Video streaming has been introduced to almost all aspects of work: virtual conferences, training, interviews with job seekers and even onboarding of new hires.
Even individuals with excellent communication skills require deliberate practice and self-evaluation to develop a powerful, professional video presence. You need to be clear, confident and under control to project your best self in a virtual call.
Unfortunately, far too many people participate in video calls without considering appearance, body language or technical issues. In other words, they are happy to wing it.
We’re here to tell you – don’t wing it. Instead, consider the following six tips for mastering a professional video presence:
1/ Set the stage. Position yourself in front of a plain wall or a neatly organised bookshelf. If your video call platform has virtual backgrounds, pick one that allows you to conceal clutter in your home office. Regardless of what background you use, there should be plenty of natural light, or sufficient artificial lighting so that your image is clear.
2/ Dress for success. Appropriate attire and grooming are just as important for videoconferences as it is for in-person meetings. Your attire and appearance shouldn’t be too casual. For both men and women, darker suits with solid-coloured shirts are best on camera.
3/ Don’t look down or off to either side too often. The other people on your video call are watching to see if you’re paying attention. Multi-tasking may be a great way to approach most of your workday, but if you’re looking down at your keyboard or off camera to the side, you will appear distracted or disinterested. And if someone turns the conversation to you, and you haven’t been listening, you will be needlessly aggravating your colleagues.
4/ Use body language to your advantage. As in a face-to-face meeting, nonverbal communication conveys most of the message. So, sit up straight, smile, and keep your head, shoulders, and hands in view. Maintain a steady gaze with the screen so people know you are paying attention to what they are saying. This could be difficult if it’s your sixth videoconference of the day. Video call fatigue is real but try to fight through and present your best self.
5/ Test for technical difficulties. Nothing ruins video call presence more than a glitchy app or computer. Test out the interface and make sure your computer or mobile device is connected properly. Make sure your WIFI connection is strong. If you are having any difficulties, get some technical assistance well before your meeting starts.
6/ Practice improves performance. A video call is not like a regular conversation; you need to be more engaged, planful and emotive to create a positive impression. Come prepared and organise your thoughts about what you want to say ahead of the video call. To find the right tone, organise video chats with friends and colleagues and then ask for feedback on your communication style and tone. Ask these people for any tips they have on how to make you look more engaged and professional. Videoconferencing is a skill that must be practiced before it can be perfected.
Videoconferencing will, likely, continue to be a mainstay of business communication for years to come. Particularly since increasing numbers of people are seeking hybrid work arrangements, splitting time between office and home. Mastering this technology will pay dividends for your career, now and for years to come.