5. If your webcam is on, people can see you.
While this may seem obvious, many people have a hard time remembering that their webcam is not a high tech mirror. I like to think of this as part of the “car complex syndrome”- you know what I’m talking about. There you are, sitting at a red light, singing off-key at the top of your lungs to a top 100 song on the radio when you ever so subtly check to make sure your deodorant is working. You think, “hey, I’m in a car- no one saw that.” Wrong! You see those windows that are on every side of the car? They make sure that you are visible from every angle to all other drivers on the road. The same principle applies to videoconferencing. Your webcam is like those car windows, making you visible to everyone in the meeting. So, next time you want to grab a quick bite of lunch or reapply your lipstick, just remember: We all saw that!
4. [Background] image is everything!
I know this might be hard to understand for some of you who work in an “orderly chaos” environment but what’s in the background of your video feed can affect people’s perception of you. My desk at work is cluttered with papers strewn in every direction and even though I know where to find everything, I make sure to neaten up before I go in front of the camera. I think Coco Chanel’s famous jewelry rule of “Before you leave the house, take one thing off” can be applied in this case as well. Clear your desk of clutter, remove any wrappers, old post-its, move the garbage out of view, and put your pens away. Then when you’re all set for your meeting, take one more thing off your desk to ensure that even your mother would approve.
3. Don’t look down.
I know it’s tempting to check yourself out in the bottom corner of your screen but I’m begging you to keep your head up. Glancing down can make your eyes look droopy which is never a good thing. Just keep your head up and pretend you’re talking to a live person sitting in front of you instead of a computer screen to appear more bright-eyed and natural.
2. The mute button is your friend.
We’ve all been there. You’re in a video-conference with a potential client and let’s throw in your supervisor for good measure when the person you share an office with walks in and says, “you will never believe the morning I’ve been having!” Awkward. Not only does this interrupt the flow of the meeting, it makes you look unprofessional. Simplest way to avoid this is to mute your microphone when you’re not the one speaking. It will eliminate any unnecessary background noise, keeping the focus on your meeting and the business being discussed instead of your coworker’s probably exaggerated subway stories.
And the number one thing to remember during a video-conference is…
1. Pay attention!
If you’ve gone through the effort of setting up a meeting, make sure to actually be in the meeting. Business etiquette states, “whilst thou are in a video-conference, do not check your emails, update your facebook status or comment on Lady Gaga’s latest tweet.” It’s rude and everyone will know you are doing it because your eyes will suddenly glaze over and your head nodding will no longer be consistent with the conversation. Make yourself present, contribute effectively to the conversation, and people will take notice and appreciate it.