Get Better at Doing Video Calls with these 10 Tips
Video calls have become a norm since the pandemic, given that we were all forced to work and study at home. But despite our familiarity with it, for some reason, video calls are just stressful.
Since video calls are not going away anytime soon, we have to learn how to get used to them. Here are some tips to help you:
Set Expectations Before the Call
If you are the one scheduling the call, let your students or team members know what to expect in the meeting. Will they be required to turn on their cameras? Will you be recording the meeting? Will they need notepads? Will you ask them to report their progress? How long will the meeting last? Indicate all of these details in your invitation email, so your participants know what to expect.
Do Mic and Sound Checks Before the Call
Some memes go “the first 10 minutes of any video call is checking if everyone can hear everyone.” Yeah, you can save those precious 10 minutes by doing mic and sound checks before your call starts. Try calling someone else using your video calling program, and ask if they can hear you and see if you can hear them. You might want to advise your participants to do the same, so you all can get right to your meeting when you start the call.
Mind Your Background and Lighting
It’s a great bummer to become the butt of jokes or the topic of controversial conversations just because you did not clean up your background. So, make sure your background is clean and clear. Using the corner of a room works best or one plain side of a wall.
And, you might want to have plenty of light too. If you are the one presenting, your audience should be able to see you. So, if you have a lamp lying around, position it at the back of your laptop before your call. Better yet, invest in a good ring light, if your work requires you to do video calls regularly.
Of course, the one big pro to video calls is not needing to wear formal bottoms anymore. If you plan on being in your jammies though, just remember to stay seated during the entire course of the call.
And you might want to stay away from checkered or textured pieces of clothing because they pixelate on camera, which can distract your audience. Your best bets are solid colors. They’re not distracting at all, and they are quite easy to pick out from your closet.
Pro-tip: Go through your closet for video-call-appropriate tops, and separate them from the rest of your clothes. Hang them on a coat rack near your desk for easy access.
Apply Standard Meeting Rules
Just like what is expected in physical meetings, you want your video meetings to go smoothly as well. So, to do that, make sure to (1) have a clear agenda, (2) start and end on time, (3) take down the minutes of the meeting (or assign someone to, so you can focus on presenting or leading the meeting) and (4) close the meeting with a recap of the topics discussed.
Mute When You’re Not Speaking
This rule does not have to apply just to you. You can ask your entire team at the beginning of the call to put themselves on mute if they are not the one presenting and to only unmute when they need to respond. We do this to give courtesy to the one speaking. Plus, it helps us focus on what the speaker is saying.
Condition Yourself Not to Multitask During the Call
Your meeting tends to lengthen if you divide your attention between the call and your other tasks because you’d have to ask people to repeat themselves or vice versa. You might want to put those tasks on hold, and focus on the meeting, so end on time.
Use the Chat Feature for Questions – Not for Backchannels
Most video conferencing platforms have chat features, and they can come in handy in some circumstances such as when members or participants need to ask questions or if they have terrible internet and keep glitching when they unmute. So before the meeting starts, you can tell them to use the chat box for such reasons. However, do warn them not to use the chat feature to discuss irrelevant topics. It can get distracting.
Check and Double-Check if the Call has Ended
That is how scandals start in this day and age of video call meetings. You don’t need to be told twice to make sure your call has ended. Close the video call platform, and double-check your mic and cameras if they’re still on. Cover up your camera lens if you can.
Reset your Privacy and Security Settings
Video calls are prone to security breaches. So, yes, resetting your privacy and security settings is an added step, but you can thank yourself later when this added step saves you time, money, and effort on security breaches.
Just keep these rules in mind, and you will be a pro at video calls.