Covid-19 brought so many changes to our professional lives and one of them was the generalisation of video calls! Here are some tips to succeed!
- The background to your call! It’s best to have your calls in a neutral professional looking space. If it’s not convenient to do anything like that at your home, some software solutions can blot out the background.
- Close the door and windows to avoid unwanted background noise (children, animals, TV, vacuum cleaner, sirens,…). Head phones (AirPods), etc are great for cutting out unwanted surrounding noises, making it easier for you to hear what is being said, they liberate your hands too.
- Take precautions … the technical world sometimes malfunctions! If, despite your precautionary measures, this happens, keep to hand the telephone number so you can continue the call, if necessary, by telephone.
- Dress as if you were going to work, a professional appearance counts. Poor presentation can be seen on the video, rather like a smile can be heard on the telephone!
- Organize yourself to minimize feeling intimidated by the screen. Not everyone likes to look at themselves! Organize yourself to increase your confidence! Clear your desk, get a coffee/glass of water …have paper and pen to hand.
- If you have the option, its best to have a dedicated area for your calls. If it only is a temporary dedicated area, learn to quickly set it up for calls when necessary.
- If calling abroad, triple check time zones.
- If you organized the meeting, have an agenda and send it to the people who will be on the call. It allows them to organize their contribution to the meeting. Agendas also help participants stick to the subject! Like written documents, keep sentences short. Most people don’t like long calls!
- Depending on what you need to demonstrate, think about using visuals to get your message across.
- There are often ways of recording video calls, which in turn is why you should remain on topic and have professional presentation. Recording the video call can be a reminder of exactly what was said but it can also be shared with those who were absent.
Good on-line manners
- Be aware of your body language, sit-up straight, look into the camera, don’t fidget, eat, interrupt, multi-task. Pay attention to the speaker, … the same good manners are expected as if you met them in person.
- Silence your phone so as not to be interrupted when you are effectively already on the phone.
- Microphones, just like telephones, can pick up faint noises, even your breathing etc., it’s an idea to mute yourself when you are not speaking to stop involuntarily noises contributing to the call!
- If there are more than two people on the call, check firstly that everyone can see and hear properly. If you don’t already know each other and you are the host it’s a good idea to ask everyone to introduce themselves.
- To avoid speaking over each other, wait for a moment of silence before speaking and/or raise your hand to signal you wish to speak.
- Speak clearly and at normal pace (be aware on distance calls there may be moments when for a second or two you cut out or there is fuzz on the line).
- If you need to pull up a document, it will take a minute, communicate that you are doing so. If not, a call can become like one of those irritating phone calls when someone puts you on hold and you have no idea how long “being on hold” will last.
- If you are using your own personal account for communication purposes it may be an idea to create a professional account. Just as most have a professional email address, please ensure you have a professional: username, photo and check your privacy settings for any apps or software.
- Not unlike adjusting your camera for photos adjust your screen so you don’t look distorted. Your computer or telephone has to be at the right height and distance so your face does not go askew. Be in the middle of the screen.
- If invited by someone else, you may be required to upload some software beforehand. Try to get on the call 5 minutes before so you are ready in time.
- Check that the meeting technology you use works on your computer. There are so many these days! MS Teams, Zoom, Gotomeeting, …
- Adjust audio, brightness. If you want to hear clearly try headphones with a built-in microphone. Check your Wi-Fi connection and that all equipment is plugged in and charged up.
- Close any windows, tabs or applications on your computer that you’re not using. especially if you are sharing your screen with other participants disable pop-ups, chats, calendar notifications, emails, … don’t involuntarily inform participants of your online activity.
It’s best to search your browser for information pertaining to your situation. There are software/apps galore, videoing tips and opinions on the quality of software.
Video calls make us all stars of the screen! Being on screen requires confidence and professional help (make up and professional lighting!). In the office no one expects such high standards, just common sense to get the most out of your call. Try to help yourself as much as possible, however, for the technical side we are not all IT wizards! Solicit help from IT professionals in your company to set up your first video calls. If you need equipment: EarPhones, mobile, your screen is too small, … request it. Whether we appreciate video calls or not, they are here to stay so as many of us have adjusted to home working, so we must adjust to video calls.
|Lynda Petit is a French British recruitment consultant with 20+ years’ experience, CIPD qualified, member of the ANDRH and operating in France.|