4 tips to improve your presence in your next video meeting

Video conferencing has been around for a while, but how often have you joined a video call, only to see a gray box with the initials of the person (or people) you are meeting with? No face, no background, just audio. While meetings can and have worked this way, there are many benefits to hitting your “start video” button and engaging in a face-to-face live video chat.  

Just by turning on your video, you may benefit from better communication and increased productivity. Video has also been proven to help workers feel more connected to each other. 

However, turning your video on can feel intimidating. What do you look like? What do you sound like? The stakes can feel even higher if the call is being recorded. So, what can you do?  

These four tips will help you feel more comfortable and confident for your next video conference:

1) Limit distractions 

Sound easy? Probably not, because distractions are everywhere. In fact, research shows that the average person spends 11 minutes on a task before getting distracted, with distractions totaling 2.1 hours of every day. And these statistics were recorded prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Now, with many employees working from home, distractions are around every corner, coming in the form of kids, spouses, roommates, pets, even mailmen or Uber eats delivery drivers. And this list doesn’t even include the work related distractions that come from your computer or phone. 

When you’re on a video conferencing call, distractions are likely to show up. To limit these, find a space to take a call. If you are able to, find a room where you’re able to close the door. In addition, if you don’t use your cell phone for audio, try leaving your cell phone in a different room, or putting it on mute. In addition, set your chats to “do not disturb” mode and avoid checking email during a meeting. When you limit distraction, you won’t run into the problem of having to ask someone to repeat a question, or repeating something someone else has already said. 

2) Don’t multitask

Multitasking is a form of distraction. And it’s really easy to do during calls, even if you’ve limited other distractions that could hinder your meeting. We are constantly bombarded with emails and messages. For smoother meetings and an overall elevated presence, stay plugged-in to what’s happening, even when you’re not speaking or presenting. When your video is on, everyone can see what you’re doing, and you’ll be less likely to multitask. When it’s time to speak again, you’ll be able to respond more quickly and accurately than if you’d turned off video to do something else. 

3) Choose your home office space wisely

Remember, you’re not on a Hollywood movie shoot, but your camera, lighting, and background do make a huge difference in how people see you. 

For best viewing, be sure your light source is in front of you, not behind you. A light behind you will create distracting shadows and make it hard to see your face. Also, the higher the quality of your video cam, the better you will feel looking at your reflected image.

Try to keep your camera at eye level and in a location where you can look straight ahead throughout the presentation.  It’s easy to let your gaze drift during a video conference, making you appear distracted during the meeting. If you’re using a laptop trying propping it up with a couple of books. Using a webcam? Try a few different positions until you find one that feels comfortable for you.

4) Understand the video conferencing tools you have 

There are a variety of tools you have, some you may not even know about, to help your video conference meetings run more seamlessly. Understanding the tools, and knowing how to use them can enhance how you show up for calls.  

Some video conferencing tools include:  

  •  Screen sharing: For certain calls, sharing your screen and talking to a certain project or presentation can help with your presence. People will be able to see you, and what you’re talking about. 
  •  Transcription tools: Some video conference software’s offer transcription tools so you don’t have to worry about taking a bunch of notes during the meeting, and not hearing what someone else says 
  •   Muting yourself: Know when and how to mute yourself. If you aren’t talking, mute yourself, but stay present and be ready to un-mute yourself at any time.  

Just like a traditional in-person meeting, a video conference is an opportunity for you to not only show who you are, but to establish new relationships, strengthen older ones, and be the selling/presenting/marketing/solutions expert that you are. Use these tips to show your best self every call.