Over the past year and a bit the world was forced online more that it was before and meetings in the most case became video calls. Some loved it and excelled, some we okay and some shy’d away from the camera completely for a number of reasons.
So not everyone wants to be in front of a camera and not everyone has a film studio set up and is broadcasting from their kitchen table – That’s okay. You use what you have to do the best that you can do. So what can you do to help yourself look better on the calls.
Most importantly is Be Yourself.
Relax. You are not presenting the news or interviewing a top senior official (Unless you actually are of course).
Be confident and have a positive mindset.
If you are camera shy, consider joining on camera to do the introductions, then turn the camera off.
Meetings will have a bigger impact when your on camera as your audience can see your reactions and expressions just as though you are in a face to face meeting.
Contribute to the call. Don’t forget to contribute to the call. That’s why your there.
Treat each call as a face to face meeting, it is but using video instead.
Reduce any distractions so you concentrate on the call in hand.
Try not to sit with a window directly behind you, especially with the sun shining as this produces a halo effect around you which does not look good to others on the call.
If you can’t move and don’t have blinds or curtains, then consider bring some light in front of you to counter balance the light behind you. You will need to do this even if you are using an in call backdrop.
Search for “led video light” on somewhere like Amazon for some good options. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
If you are using your phone to make calls, consider an “LED Selfie Light Stand”.
Knowing where your camera is on your device is important, it can make the difference between the audience looking up your nose and seeing your face at a good level.
Clean the lens. It can make a big difference, especially if you are using a phone.
If you are using a laptop and have an external keyboard and mouse, consider using a laptop stand to raise the camera or even an external camera on a stand to get a better shot.
If you are using a mobile, consider getting a stand for it if inside so you can keep the camera steady.
Also knowing where your microphone is on your device is and setting its sensitivity can ensure that you are heard okay and reduces any other background noises in your environment. Headsets with mics often have a mic set to only pick up the wearers voice only.
If you have an external mic, consider a windshield or pop shield to help reduce background noises.
This can mostly be controlled via your operating system device settings or for external mics and headsets the appropriate software/drivers may have options.
Remember your microphone has a mute option in the video calls.
Software in devices is very good at stopping feedback where you hear yourself speak on a call and the microphone is picking that up and replaying in over the top. Some people prefer to use an headset with inbuilt mic so they only hear the call in the environment you are in.
Most of the main video calling platforms now have the ability to place backgrounds behind you so the audience can’t see the area that you are calling from.
When using these it is important to remember that the software is using your camera to cut around your image and display the background behind you, so if you want to show something on camera, it may struggle and you may have to turn off your background to do this.
Test it out
Once you have a set up you are comfortable, test it out. There are options on most of the video calling platforms to do this, or set up a call with a colleague or friend to test out the set up and get some feedback.
Dr Lucy Rogers has produced a set of videos that were for her students, but would help anyone looking for some advice.
Speaking to an Online Audience – Tech
Speaking to an Online Audience – Voice
Speaking to an Online Audience – Content
Speaking to an Online Audience – You!