ADVANCED VIDEO CONFERENCES
That’s even better. tips for
the more professional appearance:
From job interviews and work-in-progress meetings with colleagues to virtual gin and tonics with friends or relatives. What was quickly set up and works can in most cases be improved.
Here are useful tips on how to come across even better in the next video conference. This is more beneficial for you and everyone else you see on the screen. Guaranteed.
Two days before the video conference:
Creating the optimal environment for the video conference is by far the most challenging and time-consuming part of the preparation. It pays off to invest in preparation here.
No matter which system you work with, whether your employer specifies Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business or another system, or whether you work privately with the free versions of Zoom, Cisco Webex or other software: the background makes the decisive difference in the video conference.
Once you have found the best possible setting, you can use it again and again as your trademark.
What is behind you in the picture? Here you should think carefully about the impression you want to convey.
Should it be the professorial bookshelf? Well, in historical portraits, the person portrayed wanted to send a certain message with the Bible or the merchant’s book in hand. That you are literate and own more than one book or a Kindle is believed even without books in the background.
Of course there are differences: a light, almost floating, timelessly elegant book shelf designed by Dieter Rams with a few selected works is an interesting sight.
We can no longer see the overcrowded bookshelf, in which even the last centimeter has been filled horizontally and vertically. Too often, experts who are connected to a TV interview think they have to expect us to have this background.
The white wall? You will appear as pale as the wall. Would you read that about yourself in a reference or in a letter of reference? When you look at the white ceiling, every smoke detector also gains undreamt-of prominence.
The colored wall? Professional interior designers hate them. The wall where you dared to do something. While the rest was wallpapered with white woodchip wallpaper, courage failed on one wall, which was then painted in soft green, deep violet or a light shade of blue.
For the video conference, however, this colored background can be just the thing.
Try it. Place your laptop or tablet in front of this wall and see the color effect. It can increase the vibrancy behind you without looking too powerful and make you look far more alive compared to the white wall.
The sentimental corner. Relatively often seen in the background. Since it is not allowed in the agile office of the employer, a small devotional corner has been made at home. There, on a bookshelf, is the sports trophy, the dinosaur that the children made years ago, the oil lamp, certificates, photos and much more. Please do not.
The participants in the video conference cannot help but try to discover or decipher the objects behind them, which in most cases is impossible.
This involuntarily draws attention from your face and your statement to the bustling background. And you don’t seem really efficient and well organized either.
The statement picture. Much better. In the video conferences of the last few weeks, those who have deliberately chosen art in the background have actually worked best. In one case, it was a large abstract painting of a tree in expressive red tones that made the IT entrepreneur appear as dynamic as we know her in everyday life.
Two bankers chose contemporary art for the background for excellent effect. An interior designer sat in front of an exquisite wallpaper showing a stylized Far Eastern landscape with small tea pavilions.
In all four cases, it could be seen that the person had had concerns. In the vignette style of the remaining video presentations, these people were remembered as personalities. And exactly as they show themselves from their best side in personal meetings.
Choose the background that you identify with and that makes you stand out from the crowd of white walls, overflowing bookshelves and small objects.
From our point of view, there are no solutions: Turn off the camera. This counteracts the attempt, in times of social distancing, to exchange personal information at least virtually. It is no joy for the other participants for a long time
Just staring at the name Max Mustermann.
Most video conferencing systems allow the background to be blurred. Well intentioned but always a bit mysterious, as if you have something to hide.
With a so-called green screen in the background, you can “mount” an image in the background for the video call. Either a standard image from the video software’s library or a custom image.
We have seen two participants sit in front of the identical wall (the brick wall with books and candlesticks is very popular), in the other case the holiday beach from last year appeared in the background of the colleague who joined from Bielefeld. Not a good idea for either professional or private video conferencing unless you are planning to give a talk about Australia.
Use the background to be positively remembered. Also use it to communicate that you have given it some thought. With a good setting, you have an excellent chance of presenting yourself well. If you have more or less improvised so far, reconsider the setting and present yourself skilfully.
The incidence of light is an essential factor to be considered in combination with the setting. As with every photo: Strongly contrasting backlight is only something for photo artists. You’d better avoid it so as not to appear on the screen without any facial contours and only in dark outlines.
Installing light behind the screen is a good idea. In the hardware store there are good, large LED panels with the additional option of selecting different lighting moods and intensities. If you don’t want to invest extra, there is sure to be another lamp in the rest of the household that can be positioned behind the screen.
Side light is good. However, if the light hits your face too much from the side, half of your face can look washed out. A combination of natural light and artificial light is possible. An additional light source works well, such as an LED panel that shines on the face from a certain height.
You just need a little time to find the optimal combination. Now it becomes clear why the part of the light setting always seems infinitely long during a photo shoot. In general, the more light the better. The overhead light can also help, even if you leave it off otherwise.
You know the incidence of light in your home and you know what times of day most of your video conferences take place. It is therefore worth trying different lighting options over the weekend. Create the optimal setting so that you only have to prepare the content for the next video conference.
Heavy art books and the hereditary uncle’s Brockhaus can suddenly be used again here, because the camera of your laptop, tablet or phone should definitely be placed at eye level.
The most common mistakes: A camera placed too far down or too far up. Both settings result in extremely unfavorable images, which we prefer not to describe in detail.
You need time to get the three factors background, light and camera in the right balance. It’s also worth conducting a test video conference with a good friend who will give you unsparing feedback.
We pointed out to a consultant friend of ours that the minimalistically furnished apartment in the old building and the bouquet of deep purple tulips in the background look great, but that the chandelier is floating above his head in the camera position chosen, giving the impression that he has himself king of Cologne crowned.
A test conference is also a great way to see if your voice is loud and clear, or if you may need to upgrade with a microphone. The best argument doesn’t work if you can hardly be understood.
If the next video conference is planned with software that you are not yet familiar with, it helps to familiarize yourself with the functions of the video software. How does the chat function work, what are the camera settings, how does the screen sharing work, etc.
Most software solutions are structured similarly, but when it comes to a very important video call, it’s better to be able to focus solely on the conversation at the crucial moment.
What else can you prepare now? Most video conferencing systems allow you to upload a profile picture. Of course you should use this and upload the image that you have been optimizing for XING and LinkedIn for so long here in the system and enter your name in the profile.
One day before the video conference:
Service is service and schnapps is schnapps. That’s true
even in times of COVID19. The simple rule is: If it’s a professional video conference, then exactly the clothes you would wear in a business environment are the way to go. Otherwise you can save yourself smart work clothes in the future.
Memory works great in exceptional situations. As soon as business life has returned to normal in all areas and you come around the corner elated in a smart jacket, your counterpart will still see you in the baggy ancient sweatshirt. Exactly the way he experienced it in the last video conferences.
Of course there are workplaces where a stylish surfer outfit is expected every day. But in all professional fields where a business outfit is the norm, you should also wear the business outfit during the video conference. Exaggerated in the current exceptional situation in the home office, do you think? no way. There is a subtle but important difference.
Everyone understands if (as you speak) they hear the children, the dog, or the noise of the garbage truck. This can often not be arranged differently in the home office and is not a problem at all. But the business-focused attitude counts, and online this is conveyed not inconsiderably purely visually through the business outfit.
Home office does not mean beach office. And even if we are among the optimists at GloriousMe. In the case of the Corona crisis, we assume that working life will become much more difficult afterwards. You should therefore give the best possible impression during the long weeks of remote working.
If you’re one of those people who usually decides the night before what outfit you’re going to wear the next day, then stick with it. When choosing the colors, please keep in mind the colors you have chosen for the background.
Very light or very dark clothing often looks pale or harsh on the screen, too many small patterns can also be irritating for the camera. And please forget the tip of waist-up dressing. A great blouse, with a blazer and shorts, Birkenstocks or retro baseball socks really only look good on a top model. And who hasn’t gotten up from a long video conference to get an extra pad or a glass of water?
If a video conference is planned for the next day with software that you do not use all the time, it is worth checking briefly the day before whether the planned software for the video conference is actually still installed on your computer or not as part of a major update is no longer directly accessible, but has to be downloaded again. This takes a few minutes, which you rarely have just before the video conference. Better be prepared.
The morning before the video conference:
Same procedure as every day
The managing director, who is unshaven and uncombed from his home office, conducts a video interview and reports enthusiastically that he now has more time at his disposal because he is no longer stuck in traffic jams on the motorway every morning Could you please have spent some of the time that you are now saving in the bathroom as usual.
So here too: remote working is not to be equated with Robinson Crusoe working. Just as you would have directed yourself for the normal day, you should also participate in the video conference.
Since cameras “swallow” a lot, it can be a little darker make-up and a stronger lipstick than usual. A bronzer with darker powder (we know from numerous photo shoots that you, dear gentlemen, always indignantly reject this, but then prefer portraits with “healthy” complexions to pale ones) works wonders.
During the Zoom video conference, you can use Zoom Retouch to get a little color on your face – in the German Zoom translation, the setting in the profile is a bit uncharming and rather dermatological “skin tone reaction”.
One hour before the video conference:
test, test, test
Most software providers are experiencing rapid business development due to the corona pandemic. Therefore, the updates of software variants are currently taking place at much shorter intervals. To be on the safe side, test whether your software is up to date one hour before the video conference.
If you plan to share your screen later, now is the time to clean up the desktop again. Also close all other applications so as not to burden data traffic unnecessarily.
It is also worth checking again before the conference whether the device is actually charged or is being supplied with power.
A quarter of an hour before the video conference:
The countdown is running
Both Macs and Windows computers have a “Do not disturb” feature accessible through System Preferences. A period can be entered there
be created in which notifications, for example about newly arriving e-mails during this time, do not trigger a “notification alarm”. You should also put the mobile phone or mobile phones that are otherwise on the desk on mute.
The video conferencing etiquette is that it starts punctually at the agreed time. In any case, you should log in a few minutes before the start of the video conference.
With moderators who are either inexperienced or very strict, it can happen that the moderator will no longer connect you if you arrive too late.
The meeting has started:
Video conferencing etiquette
The moderator is the master of ceremonies and rightly so. A video conference can quickly become chaotic and the tolerance for video conferences is far lower compared to face-to-face meetings. You will have received the agenda from the moderator in advance.
At the beginning of the video conference, the moderator establishes the rules again, which can vary depending on the number of participants. Some moderators only allow questions via chat, others want a good old show of hands from the participants who want to speak.
The following applies to all business video conferences: The microphone is switched off and is only switched from mute to loud when you start a speech. Otherwise, the background noises that all participants cause are too diverse, be it street noise or things falling to the ground and sounding like a hurricane to the other participants.
The moderator decides whether to do a short round of introductions, in which each participant briefly introduces himself again. Again, remember that video conferencing requires little patience. What might even be greeted with a smile as charming small talk in a face-to-face meeting is annoying in video conferences. Precise, to the point is the best strategy.
You communicate everything else with facial expressions and posture. A good moderator addresses the participants by name, makes sure that all participants feel involved, adheres to the agreed time frame and finally provides information about the documentation of the video conference in the form of a protocol or next steps.
The meeting is running:
Excitement, smiles and undivided attention
Pay attention to your posture and not only in the first few minutes of the video conference, but keep active, upright body tension from the first to the last minute. In the meeting room, you wouldn’t start to sit back and put your feet up on the table either.
Give the video conference your undivided attention. Editing emails or checking Instagram during the video conference is a very rude violation of video conference etiquette. Since all microphones are muted, except for the speaker, it’s a good idea to nod in agreement from time to time to show that you’re listening carefully.
If it is your turn to speak and you need some time to look for a specific document or argument, please let the rest of the participants know. Silence for too long during a speech inevitably leads to worried questions as to whether “it’s still your turn, forgot to switch off the microphone, the connection was bad? etc.”. This is how valuable time is wasted.
And another tip: smile, smile, smile. We’ve seen far too many downturned corners of the mouth on video conferences. After the initial greeting, some participants seem to forget to smile and appear disinterested to surly.
It also takes a bit of practice to look into the camera when speaking. Many video conference participants instinctively look at the screen because they think they are maintaining eye contact. The opposite is the case.
As you speak, imagine being photographed. In most cases you are looking directly into the camera lens.
If you like gesturing a lot and vigorously with your hands, it helps to hold back a bit during video conferences. The hands “fly” through the air in front of the laptop much more presently and distract from your words.
Long video conferences make you thirsty. But you’ve made sure that your most beautiful carafe or your best teapot is on your desk and that the area captured by the camera is immaculately tidy.
After the meeting:
Feedback is always important and the same applies here: criticism in private. Praise in front of the assembled team. If you found a video conference good and productive, the moderator would be happy to receive positive feedback via the chat function, which is visible to everyone. For criticism and help
free feedback on what could be done better next time, there is the phone.
We, too, would be happy to receive feedback on this article and if you can use one or the other tip to be even better informed for all future video conferences.
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