Video calls and conferences are a big part of business, especially nowadays with our current situation when most of us are working from home. But even before the pandemic, a lot of people have had to give virtual presentations or have had to attend virtual meetings and conference calls. For both of us as speakers, we frequently give virtual presentations and webinars and we know how important it is to look, sound, and feel good on video.
When you don’t have a good presence on video, you are taking away from what you have to say. For some reason people don’t seem to pay attention to the details when on video calls. I’m sure you can recall a time when you zoned out or stopped paying attention because of the quality of a video call. It may have been because of an annoying echo, or a bad connection, or maybe you couldn’t even hear the speaker. These things are easily fixed and if you can look, sound, and feel good during these calls, presentations, and meetings you can stand out from everyone else.
In order to put your best foot forward, there are three areas you should focus on: looking good, sounding good, and feeling good. Today we are sharing our tips on how to excel in each one of these areas.
Looking good on video calls
How you look on video calls is very important. This is not just about your physical appearance, although that is part of it, it is also about your surroundings. If you want to make sure you look good in all of your video calls and meetings be aware of what is behind you. Do you have a lot of clutter in the background? Do you have a blank white wall? If you don’t have a good background people may be too distracted by what is behind you to hear what you are saying. Keep it simple, clean, and looking professional.
Lighting can make all the difference in the world on a video call. If you are sitting in front of a window and the sunlight is too bright behind you, your face may not be visible. If you are sitting in a dark room with only one floor lamp, the quality is not going to look good. Our advice to you is to invest in good lighting. You don’t have to spend a fortune, there are some great lights out there that are around $80, it is definitely worth it.
Another thing to invest in is a good camera. Please don’t just use your webcam! It will not produce a good quality video. Again, you don’t have to buy anything extremely expensive, but this is something that if you invest in, it will pay off.
When it comes to your personal look, pay attention to what you wear when you are on video calls. Stay away from crazy patterns because cameras have a hard time focusing. When you can try to stay with solid colors. Bright gemstone colors are always good--such as blue, purple, or green.
Be aware of the context of your meeting and dress appropriately. If you are having a casual team meeting to do a weekly catch up, you probably don’t need to wear a full suit and tie. If you are giving a big presentation to important clients don’t show up in a T-shirt and crazy hair.
For women, when it comes to makeup it's up to you if you want to wear it or not. For some people, they might feel better about themselves with makeup on, but if you don’t want to wear makeup, don’t.
And one final tip in the area of looking good is be sure to look at the camera as much as you can. Usually, your webcam is above your computer screen so when you look at your screen to see everyone else, it actually appears as though you are looking down. Even though it may feel uncomfortable, try to look up at the camera as much as possible.
Sounding good on video calls
Another great investment is a good microphone because if people can’t hear you or you are cutting in and out people won’t want to keep listening. Again, you don’t have to get the most expensive mic, there are some great ones out there that are very low cost. Why go through the time and effort of speaking to a group if they aren’t even going to hear you or if you are going to lose their attention because of the audio.
One thing related to sound that you may not think about is breathing. It is important to practice deep breathing, it really affects the tone and volume of your voice. It can also be very calming. But it has to be done in a non-obvious way so that it doesn’t distract people from what you are saying.
A lot of things can be picked up by a mic, so you have to be aware of any noises you are making. If you need to take a drink or cough, mute yourself. Chewing gum, tapping your fingers, typing, etc.. can all be picked up on a mic, so be careful.
Anytime you go into a video call, be prepared to share something, don’t let yourself become just another floating head on the screen. Have something in mind ahead of time--a question, a topic, a story--something that you can contribute. This is important in any meeting, but especially in a virtual one where people can “hide” easier.
Feeling good on video calls
There are several things that play into how you feel on a video call. The first one we want to advise against is scheduling back to back virtual meetings. It can be exhausting and stressful to have so many video calls in a row. If you are a meeting host, be mindful of who you invite. Don’t just invite everyone on the team or in the company just because you think they might be interested. Meetings should not have 100, 40, or even 20 people. Invite only the ones who are essential and then everyone else can have access to the recording of the meeting.
If you are not a host, and you keep getting invited to too many meetings, don’t be afraid to say no (in a nice way).
Another element that goes into feeling good is how you think about yourself. Don’t overthink what you say. It is easy to feel insecure during a presentation or keep thinking over and over about something dumb you said in a video call. Don’t worry about it, let it go! No one else is thinking about it. Learn how to “change the channel” in your mind. Watch a funny video, go for a walk, go hang out with friends.
In order to be more comfortable presenting to a group allow 15 minutes or so at the beginning of the call to get to know people. Say hi and ask how everyone is doing. It can help you relax and get to know people a bit more before starting to present.
Once you start speaking, be sure to speak slowly and don’t be afraid to breathe. If you talk too fast, you don’t give people a chance to take in and process what you are saying. They may even miss some of the words if they all start blending together. When we are nervous or excited it is natural to start talking very fast, take a breath, take your time, be mindful of what you are saying and let people hang on your every word with anticipation.
And make sure you are comfortable in what you are wearing and what you're sitting on. This is especially important if you have a long meeting or presentation. If you are physically uncomfortable, it will show.
That is our advice for the three areas you should focus on when on video calls. Additionally here are some general tips on how to be amazing during virtual presentations:
Video calls and events are the future. It is so important to invest in equipment that will make you look, sound and feel your best. We all should treat video conferencing like it is an intrical part of our jobs, most people don’t take it seriously. Take advantage of this opportunity to shine and make a great impression.
The great thing is you don’t have to spend a fortune or go crazy. Most of these things are easy to start today and are either free or low cost. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to take your career to the next level!