How To Communicate Virtually
For myself and my remote team, we have been communicating through Zoom and video conference calls for some time now. But for many this is new territory. I want to give you some tips to ensure you remain professional and don’t embarrass yourself unknowingly.
Video Conference Call Etiquette
1. If you’re going to be on camera don’t have a distracting background or surrounding. Like people walking around behind you or a ceiling fan shadow circling. If you don’t want to be on camera, just turn the camera off... don’t point it to the ceiling.
Below you will see 3 options for backgrounds:
(1) Real space behind me - this creates the best video quality
(2) Simple Branded Virtual Background
(3) Virtual Background offered by Zoom.com
Virtual Backgrounds: Zoom allows you to customize your backgrounds or use some of their premade backgrounds. Some companies are designing branded backgrounds to ensure all employees have a professional background no matter their physical space. Here is some more information from Zoom. For those looking at the pre-made backgrounds from Zoom, be mindful of what is professional. Be aware that some of them can be very distracting and can affect the professionalism of the meeting with clients.
2. Computer Camera – The way in which you position your camera can tell others a lot about your awareness and presentation. Here are some tips so that you appear to others as you want:
Your screen should be about arms-length away from your face so that you are not too close and you are not too far for sound.
Elevate your laptop with a notebook to create a flattering angle.
Ideally, you want your eyes aligned with the top 1/3rd of the computer screen
For women, watch your shirt neckline and the camera angle, sometimes you can see more than you thought!
3. Lighting – Lighting can make a huge difference in appearance and professionalism. There are lights you can purchase from Amazon (like this Ring Light) but if you don’t think this virtual life is long term for you, look for natural light from your window. Position your desk and chair so that they face natural light. Sometimes, I will turn out my overhead light so that shadows don’t form on my face and under my eyes! For those of you with glasses, the lighting can create distracting glares on your glasses. Test this out. Also, be mindful that some glasses are reflective. Meaning that others can see what you are looking at on your computer in your glasses!
4. Body Posture - Remember, the same principles of professionalism apply even though there is a screen between you and others. Sit in a chair that is comfortable but professional. Lounging on your couch or bed is not professional and is noticeable to others. Place yourself in the posture that you would be in at work. If it works in the office and helps you stay focused and productive … do it at home! Remember, slouching or laid back posture can appear to others as disinterested or unproductive.
5. Dress Professionally – Just because we work from home doesn’t mean we should get lazy. We still have work to do. I encourage you to get yourself dressed (hair and make-up too) Monday-Friday because it affects our productivity and mindset. If you are trying to build your reputation at work, get a promotion, or gain clients … this is the time to impress.
Every detail matters.
1. Make sure you are on mute as soon as you join the meeting or call. If you are unfamiliar with the controls of the video conferencing software you are using, test it out before your first meeting. My husband and I tested out a new software that is school is using so that he could see how it looked from my computer but also how to use the controls.
2. Mute yourself when you are not talking. Not only can people hear you and your background noise, they can hear the noises of your computer when you are not on mute. They can hear you typing and your mouse clicking. This can be distracting to others but it also can look bad on you. If you are supposed to be listening to someone on the call (and its not a working meeting), people will know you are distracted and working on other things. Don’t get called out!
3. Be courteous and ask if the background noise is okay if you are in a loud place, if you have other people working in the room, if you know there are noises around you. Be aware that Air Pods can affect the sound quality for the other person.
4. Turn Off Notifications on your computer and phone. Too often someone’s email, text, or phone call notifications sound on the computer. These noises can be heard and they can be very loud sometimes. Make sure your notification are turned off before the call. This is the equivalent to your phone going off in a meeting or presentation. Don’t be THAT guy (or gal)!
Here is how on a Mac. Here is how on a PC.
1. Utilize the Chat Feature - Know where you chat feature is and have your chat open so you don’t miss any questions or comments during a meeting. You can utilize this feature to quickly send information or links that are related to the conversation.
2. Create a Professional Desktop - Make sure your personal items are off your desktop before sharing your screen. This includes irrelevant tabs on your internet browser (such as Facebook or online shopping websites), checking to see what applications are running, and so on.
3. Sharing Documents - If you're sharing documents or visuals, send them ahead of time in an email. Some people may be joining from the phone or tablets and might not be able to see them at the time of the call.
4. Pay Attention – No one wants to be on a meeting longer than necessary. From my experience with large group meetings, the one thing slows meetings down is when people are distracted and do pay attention. There are awkward pauses waiting for someone to un-mute themselves and respond to a question. Also, when you are on a call with one or 2 other people, it is easy for the others to see that you are distracted by your eyes. Be mindful and respectful of other’s time.