What would we do without video conferencing in the Covid-19 pandemic. I have been using a mixture of Zoom, Teams, Skype and Houseparty to keep connected for Pilates classes, catch ups with family and friends and the obligatory quiz night.
With so much choice of video communication platforms there is no excuse for not getting online and keeping in contact with friend and family.
Ofcom states that adults spend more than 4 hours a day online because coronavirus has changed the way we communicate with each other and the number of adults making video calls has doubled during lockdown. Between January and April this year according to Ofcom, Zoom grew from having 659,000 adult users from the UK to 13 million, an increase of nearly 2,000%.
I personally do not think it matters as much how you present yourself when you are connected with friends and family, but, what about if it is a work call, does that matter how you present yourself, and what if you are having a bad hair day?
These are my top ten tips for video conferencing.
1. Be on time, just because it is an online meeting does not mean you can be late.
2. Turn your camera on even if you feel you are not looking your best. Look at the camera not the screen to make eye contact with the other participants to assess their reaction and so they can see your non-verbal’s. It also helps make a connection and build trust with the other attendees of the meeting and helps them feel you are speaking to them. Overall, having your camera on makes for a more interesting meeting as no one wants to be at a meeting talking to people they cannot see..
3. Make sure your camera is at eye level, not looking at the bottom of your chin or the top of your head and don’t have the camera too close as you do not want your whole face filling the screen.
4. Think about your background. If you in your kitchen is there a pile of dirty dishes behind you or in you are in your bedroom is the room untidy and the bed unmade? You should be lit from the front not the back so If the light of a window is behind you close the blinds. If you cannot find a suitable place you can, for example, with Zoom use a background, but be careful what you choose, as a beach in Hawaii might not be the best option for a work meeting.
5. To engage with others effectively at the meeting remember to use the ‘raise your hand’ function so that everyone is not talking over each other or use the chat function if you want to make a quick comment, or ask a speaker a question.
6. Do not eat your breakfast or any meal for that matter during on-line meetings. It is not a good idea to be munching on your cornflakes when your boss asks you a question. It gives the impression you are concentrating on your food and not the meeting, you cannot be heard properly and this in not a good look.
7. Do not be on your phone or emails when you should be paying attention, there is nothing as bad as realising everyone has stopped talking and are waiting for you to speak and you have no idea what they were talking about.
8. If you do have to deal with something remember to mute your microphone. No one needs to hear your conversation with the postman or your dog barking to be let out into the garden.
9. Do not wear your pyjamas, make sure you have time to get dress before the meeting. It is not unheard of for people to accidentally turn on their web cam when trying to mute themselves and to be seen in their dressing gown.
10. Do not yawn or look bored as it can appear rude and is very distracting for the other participants.
Joseph Liu from Forbes said that how we present ourselves online is part of our personal brand, so it is important that we get it right and look as professional as possible.
Kerry Bradley is a final year BSc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter