Tips for conducting successful video calls

RStor has been working remote since February of this year and like many of you we have had to make several quick and significant adjustments to our business. Fortunately for us we are a cloud services company and we were able to utilize our own technology to transition from physical space and relationships to virtual space and relationships.

Still, there were many things that we have learned over the past months and as a company we are happy to share our experiences, tips, and tools with any interested party. In this first post in a series we will share a few simple and common tips related to video conferencing and remote collaboration and management. I am sure that by now many of you have found solutions or have developed habits in both of these areas and the tips may either provide reassurance for your methods or valuable alternatives to a current approach that may be falling short.

Even if the current pandemic were to end today and never return, many of the tips will come in handy in any remote work situation.

Check back over the next few weeks to pick up more tips. Our first set of tips are simple ideas for obtaining better audio and video results on those ever frequent video calls.

Goal

One key goal in a video call is to provide the participants with the audio and visual cues that are a large part of human interaction and communication. Poor audio and video can be extremely distracting and will reduce the effectiveness of a call. The following tips will help to reduce the distractions and enable more focused communication.

Lighting: 

Have one steady lamp directly by your face for even, steady lighting. Try not to use sidelight or backlight if you can avoid it. Avoid sitting with your back to the window, as the camera will expose for the light and turn you into a silhouette. Instead, flip the scene around and face the window, which will give you soft, more pleasant light.

Sound: 

Be mindful of the location of the microphone and try to talk directly to it. Turn off the music and heavy machinery, and if you can, put the pets, kids, and other sound distractions in another room during your meeting. Don’t forget to mute the microphone when listening, otherwise, everybody gets to hear your sighs, sneezing, and you typing away. For improved audio use an accessory mic, which will make you sound much better. In Zoom, you can go into general settings and adjust the audio to select your accessory mic instead of the mic from the laptop or mobile device. 

Camera Perspective: 

Avoid wide angle lenses and use a mid range lens such as 50mm or an 85mm lens or lens setting if possible. If you use a smartphone be careful not to get too close to the lens as the cameras on smart- phones and webcams are wide-angle. If you get too close to any wide angle lens you will appear distorted. 

Camera at Eye Level: 

Avoid having the camera looking up at you. Eye to eye contact is the best human connection. Look at the camera directly, straight ahead. Use a stand or even improvise with boxes and books to elevate your laptop until you see eye to eye with the camera.

Background: 

You want people to focus on your face, not on what’s behind you. Try to avoid busy backgrounds like a bookshelf, as the items on the shelf will cause distractions. Keep it plain and simple, like a brick, wood, or blank wall, or a wall with nothing but one piece of art hanging. 

Personal Appearance and Clothing: 

In general good grooming is always a good start. Prepare your personal appearance as if meeting in person and think about how your clothing will appear on camera. Avoid wearing busy plaid or patterned clothes as they can create strange effects on camera and will distract the viewer. In general, a plain, solid color will work best. When it comes to solids, avoid shirts or tops that are bright white or dark black because they can look strange on camera.

For your convenience and for future reference you may download our video conferencing tip sheet.

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