Technology / 04.28.20
The Dos and Don’ts of Video Conferencing from the Home Office
My dear colleagues and INTIX members, many of you are now six-plus weeks into social distancing and working from a home office. This has likely meant participating in more video conferences than you ever have before, right? Having been a remote, home-based employee since 2011, video conferences are old hat for me. So, it’s been a little funny, a little sad, but highly interesting to watch so many of my bosses and co-workers on telemeetings for the first time.
Unfortunately, it looks like we are going to have to keep meeting this way for some time. So, below is a list of dos and don’ts I’ve put together to gently help each of you look, act and be your best on your next all-important video conference.
Let’s start with:
DO occasionally half-dress for a video conference. Kids find burps and flatulence endlessly funny. Adults? We still get a giggle out of dressing in a shirt and tie or a fine blouse and designer scarf for video conferences … all the while wearing Superman boxer shorts or old Christmas PJ bottoms just off-camera. Hey, we’re six weeks into this! I understand and completely endorse needing to put a little whimsy into the workday when and where you can.
DON’T, however, then stand up during a video conference and move about! The deeper you get into a call, the more it might slip your mind that you’re not wearing business casual from the waist down. I’ve seen at least a couple of people on video conferences since this all began reveal their shorts or sweats by having to get up and go across their home office to close a door, fetch a folder or retrieve a print-out.
DO pour yourself a soda or fetch a bottle of water before the video conference starts and have it on hand to “wet your whistle,” especially if you’re going to be speaking or presenting. It’s spring pollen season for many; the throat gets dry, and you don’t want to lay out the finer points of a PowerPoint sounding like Kim Carnes warming up to sing “Bette Davis Eyes.”
DON’T eat during a video conference! Whether it’s a small snack or your actual lunch or breakfast, just make it a general rule, OK? I was on a video conference three weeks ago. I’m not going to name names. But the dude had gotten Kentucky Fried Chicken just prior to the meeting and was chomping away on some Original Recipe and potato wedges throughout. First, it didn’t look good on camera. Second, he wasn’t cool for showing us his love of the fried fowl. And, three, of course, it made me risk my life after the video conference was over to go to my local KFC drive-thru and get a three piece and a biscuit! I’m lying, of course. It was eight pieces.
DO know that proper lighting is important. I’m terribly vain. Consequently, I am here to tell you that if you have bad lighting in your home office, you’re not going to look good. For those who video conference from a room with a window, face the window! If you don’t have such natural light, find a soft light and put it in front of you. In addition to lighting, consider your background. It's only natural that people will want to look at what's going on behind you. So, create a "set" or use a background setting you can download from any number of sites.
DON’T sit with your back to the window or under a bright light. You are not Oscar-winning cinematographers Roger Deakins or Robert Richardson. Bad lighting will either make you look tired and older than you are, or it will make you look like you’re under interrogation on “Law & Order.” Neither are good looks. Oh, and nostril shots. Not pretty! To paraphrase the ancient knight in the third "Indiana Jones" flick, choose your camera angles ... wisely.
And finally, DO be logged on to the internet during the video conference. You never know when you might be asked to quickly pull up a newly sent or past email for reference, or you may need to Google a topic being discussed so you can add some informed insights when called upon.
But DON’T go on your Facebook page, especially if you have colleagues on the video conference who are Facebook friends! If they’re on Facebook, they’ll see you on there and know that you are looking at memes, counting your recent “likes” and “loves,” and generally checking out of the video conference on some level. Of course, they are also. But you are better than they are.
Oh, and one last don’t? DON’T be like Jennifer in this clip!
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Tags: Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus , Video Conference