Much of corporate America has been working from home for going on 4 months now. And it’s not just work: Friends, volunteer committees, church groups and more have been forced to gather online lately.
That means video meetings. Lots of video meetings.
It’s nice to connect and see familiar faces, but not all video meetings are created equal. In fact, some are downright painful. Here are some tips to ensure you’ve got your game face on next time you click “Join the meeting.”
1. Know your camera culture.
Ask a trusted colleague or your manager if everyone is expected to appear on camera, or if a photo/avatar is acceptable. It may work better if only the person speaking appears “live,” especially if there are system limitations. Of course, if the purpose of the meeting is to see — not just hear from — folks you haven’t seen lately, or to connect with a new client or team, you’ll want to turn on your camera.
2. Raise your monitor.
When your camera is on, be sure your screen is positioned at eye level. If it’s on the desk or in your lap, others will be looking up your nose — not the most flattering view for most of us. Try putting your laptop or monitor on a sturdy box or stack of books if needed. Watch your headroom, too. If the camera is positioned too low and there’s a large space between the top of the screen and your forehead, it will look funny.
3. Check your lighting.
Windows or a lamp behind you will throw your face into shadow — again, counterproductive if the point is for people to see you. On the other hand, a bright light too close to your face can make you look ghostly. If your set-up allows, try shifting position during meetings for best lighting.
4. Turn your phone to landscape.
If you’re using your phone for video meetings, landscape orientation (instead of the default portrait orientation) will look similar to a computer screen or monitor rather than a long, narrow image with black bars down the sides. You can change the setting on your phone to landscape or just turn the phone sideways.
5. Be aware of your background.
Clutter on your desk or inappropriate wall art can be distracting at best, unprofessional at worst. If your “home office” doubles as the kitchen table, position yourself so the dirty dishes and pile of laundry are out of sight.
6. Mute your mike.
Even if you have a private work setting, normal background noises can be louder than you realize. Just remember to unmute when you want to speak up.
7. And about that hair …
Casual dress has become the norm, and we can’t tell if you didn’t shower or brush your teeth yet. But hair that looks like you just fell out of bed is distracting and unprofessional. Brush it, put it in a ponytail or put on a hat. Some people feel more productive when they dress like they’re going to work, but as far as video meetings go, what’s off camera (PJ bottoms, anyone?) is up to you.