Online meetings, classes, and interviews are more prevalent than ever, and I don't see that changing. And with that, we're moving away from accepting bad video and annoying audio. The fact of the matter is, if you going to be effective in the new world, you'll have to be amiable online. And you can do that right now.
Right off the top, I have a few tips for you. Then to double down on that, I have a 1-hour training titled, The Essential Steps to Impressive Videoconferencing that focuses on three key areas: audio, video, and environment.
5 Tips to Up Your Game
- The Light on Your Face Should be Brighter than the Light Behind You - This is a perennial challenge that I see both online and even on TV. If the light behind you is too bright, the webcam will expose for it and not your face. Therefore, you will be rendered too dark and grainy. Find a way to dim the light behind and increase illumination shining on your face.
- Make Eye Contact - It's important to look into the camera, not only while you are talking, but when listening as well. Too often people stare at the screen or drift off during the conversation. That will make the person speaking feel like you're not listening to them, even if you are. Practice looking directly into the camera as much as possible.
- Check Your Bandwidth Before Important Meetings - There are two factors here to consider. First, your WiFi network. If you have more than one to choose from, determine which one is providing the best connection to the router and use it. Second, check your overall performance using a free service such as Speedtest. The rule of thumb is that you need a minimum of 1.5 Mbps for upload and download. My real world experience has taught me that the minimum is more like 5 Mbps, and more is better.
- Make Good Audio a Priority - We all want to look good online, but our words are more important. Pleasant, clear audio makes people more receptive to what you are saying. There are a number of factors that contribute to good audio including the type of mic, its proximity to your mouth, and the acoustics of the room. If you want to hear how you sound, try a free Skype test call. It will record your online voice and play it back to you. And if you're using a computer for your videoconferencing (as opposed to your phone), then I recommend you use an external mic if you're not satisfied with the sound that's played back to you in testing.
- Do a Dry Run 10 Minutes Before Your Online Meeting - If you have a conference call at 11 am, then sit down at your desk at 10:50 am for your dry run. Start by checking your bandwidth. Then check your picture and audio. On the Mac, I use QuickTime player. Go to File > New Movie Recording. Click on the little arrow that's next to the Record button to choose your camera and audio imput. Then make a short movie and listen to it. If everything checks out, then you should be good to go. Finally, log on to your conference site (Zoom, Skype, etc.) a couple minutes early to check your settings there. Once those are confirmed, you can be confident that you'll have a great start to the meeting.
I delve deeper into the details of these tips in The Essential Steps to Impressive Videoconferencing. But these alone should help you improve your presence online.
One final note, the online training I mention here is free to Inner Circle Members who support The Digital Story through Patreon. You might want to consider joining. Not only do you get this training, there are lots of additional benefits as well.
You can share your thoughts at the TDS Facebook page, where I'll post this story for discussion.