More and more of us are using video conferencing software than ever before. Video conferencing has even become part of our daily vocabulary, ‘I’ll Zoom you later’ or ‘I’ll Teams it to you’, plus part of our daily routine. Our Video conferencing appointments are now routinely diarised.
Whether you are using Zoom / Teams or other video conferencing mediums occasionally or regularly it is important to consider how you are coming across to others.
Looking your best will impact your:
- Image – how do we want to come across?
We are going to look at how the following aspects affect how you appear while using Zoom / video conferencing.
- The Basics
- Your Web Cam & Video Conferencing Settings
1. The Basics
When you go out to work or meet friends, you make sure you've had a wash, brushed your teeth and combed your hair and generally look acceptable – the basics right? The exact same principle applies with virtually going to work or meeting friends.
Don’t let the fact you are communicating through video conferencing software discourage you from looking your best. After all communicating through video conferencing means that certain areas of communication related to touch and body language are reduced, so it vital that we concentrate on looking and sounding our best. When we do we will feel energized and more confident which will in turn encourage and energize our audience.
Lighting is fundamental to looking good on camera. This is clearly seen when looking at photographs. You look at one photo of yourself and think 'Yay I look great!', then you look at another and think you look awful…. why the disparity? Well it is probably down to lighting.
So you know light is important, so does that mean you can sit with the window behind you? After all there is tonnes of light streaming in. NO! This is a classic mistake. Only sit with your back to bright light if you want to look like a silhouette. Your audience will not be able to make out your facial expressions, so smiles and frowns will be completely invisible.
What’s the solution? Simply turn around. Instead of the light coming from behind you, ensure the light is in front of you. It will literally light up your face.
What if you have no choice but to sit with your back to the sun. Well artificial light is the answer. Experiment with lamp positions in front of you. Light always needs to be in front of you. Experimentation is the key here.
3. Your Webcam & Video Conferencing Settings
If you’ve been using Zoom / Teams for a while now you’ll have noticed that people position there webcams anywhere from right down on the floor to the highest shelf in the house. However the best place for your webcam is eye level. This may mean propping up your laptop or phone on a few books to achieve the desired height, but it will be well worth it.
Where should you look?
This can be hard but if you want to achieve eye contact with your audience the best place to look is directly at the camera lens. It’s like looking into the eyes of the other people at the meeting. Your screen itself is not a camera, so looking into the camera is the only way to achieve eye contact. It's probably not possible to keep this up for the whole meeting, but if you really have an important point to emphasize looking into the camera lens will be most effective.
Do I already have a Webcam?
There are a huge choice of webcams available to buy. But before you buy one, did you know that your laptop probably already has one built in? To check if you have one, try searching 'webcam' in the Windows search bar. Also, did you know you can use your mobile phone as a webcam?
If you want to experiment with using your mobile phone as a webcam, you can download software such as DroidCam (as the name suggests for android phone only) and connect up. For more information on how to turn your mobile phone into a Webcam check our our latest video: 'How to look your best on Zoom'.
Depending on the quality of the webcam installed on your laptop, you may want to purchase a third party one. Once purchased a webcam will come with its own video enhancing features. Take time to look at the options available. For instance many webcams have inbuilt image settings which will allow you to:
- Adjust the brightness
- Change the tones i.e warm and nostalgic
- Use a choice of filters – including some very funny ones!
Adjusting these settings can have a great effect on how you look using Zoom / Teams or any other video conferencing software. Our latest video 'How to look your best on Zoom' includes tips on how to adjust your webcam settings.
Adjusting your Appearance in Zoom
As well as experimenting with your webcam settings, you can also adjust your video conferencing settings. For instance in Zoom video settings there is a ‘Touch up my Appearance’ check box as well as ‘Enable HD’ option. You can experiment with these settings.
It is also best practice to check your appearance in Zoom before joining the meeting. It is like taking that one last look in the mirror before entering the business meeting to make sure you haven’t got spinach stuck in your teeth. Once you have joined a meeting without video, you can simply click on the little arrow next to the video icon, and check your appearance before turning your video on.
Maximize your time and effectiveness on Zoom or other video conferencing software by being clearly seen and looking your best!
Fast Changing Habits - Help at Hand!
There have been countless articles written, including our own below (Learning at Home a New Experience) regarding the Pros and Cons of working from home,tips on how to set up an effective working environment and advice on quite frankly – how to keep sane and positive during this uncertain period.
There is of course nothing new about business meetings and training sessions being conducted online, and for many of us – working remotely in our shorts and shirt and tie is something that we have been doing for years.
However, for the vast majority of the population the idea of having a virtual office, classroom, doctor’s appointment and even a virtual party is brand spanking new.
As well as the technical aspects of adapting to an Online Life, there are also the social implications. We loved this article about Zoom Social Etiquette!
Some of us have had extra time on our hands, but others have been busier than ever. Migrating systems online, planning new business strategies – including how to socially distance in the work place is very time consuming.
Computer Tutoring have published a series of Zoom Tutorials designed for busy people, who need to quickly get up and running using Zoom.
This 2 minute bullet train video will take you from downloading Zoom to joining your first Zoom meeting
- How to download and install Zoom?
- How to use the Meeting ID and Password to enter the meeting?
- How to mute your microphone so that others can't hear you?
- How to leave a Zoom meeting?
Wow! If your company has been anything like ours recently you've had to make some major adjustments to your work and home life. You wouldn't be wishing that you could place your webcam in front of a fully laden bookcase bursting with proof of your intellect. You may not have even taken part in a video conference before.
Having recently completed teaching an Excel Online Training Course, one of the things that was painfully apparent was the throbbing in my head. My eyes, back of my neck.
Up Close and Personal
What do I mean by this? Well the fact is that using the various video conferencing systems i.e. Zoom that we are all now using we are constantly looking at somebody's face at very close proximity - it is not natural. It's exhausting! The fact is that we are not used to conversing with people at such a close quarters. So when someone is right up in our face it makes us panic a little, I mean just imagine if you had a conversation in real life at such close proximity. This feeling can can cause our heart rate increase, or conversely cause tiredness. It's downright weird.
Try these 3 tips to combat video fatigue:
- Try to sit a little back from the screen. Don't worry too much about the cat walking in the background.
- Make sure you move your whole body at regular intervals. Take time to stand up and have the occasional stretch, or stretch at your desk!
- I know it sounds silly, but don't forget to breathe. Sometimes we are concentrating so much on our online
companions we actually forget to take those all important deep breathes that help keep us calm.
Working at Home? - How inconvenient is that!
An Odd Experience
It's an odd experience working or doing anything from home that you would ordinarily do in the office. Roles get crossed. When you're in the office you know where you need to be, what meeting room you've booked and that the lunch you prepared earlier that morning is waiting for you in the shared office fridge.
Now you're working from home things are different. You probably haven't prepared lunch that morning because you're already at home. I mean what's the point of preparing lunch when it's already in the fridge.
When normally you would be frantically searching for a vacant meeting room and hoping that nobody has decided to sneak in beforehand you now have to find a quite place in the home. Somewhere you can concentrate and have a conversation without being distracted by children, noisy neighbours or pets chewing on the router cable.
Finding Peace and Quiet
Speaking of peace and quiet, that is never easy. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a Whole room to yourself, it's that inevitable crash downstairs. What's fallen? What's broken? Who's hurt?
If however you’re pretty limited on space and some of my friends living in London are just in that situation. Having one room in a shared house or even having to share a small living area makes finding peace and quiet to work is no easy task. So what can you do?
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