finger framing a man on laptop

One thing millions of professionals around the world have to adjust to these days is frequently looking at and speaking into a small pinhole at the top of their laptop computers. This virtual-togetherness technology has been invaluable to places like Two Rivers Marketing as we try to carry on 100% remotely. It is allowing us to connect on a more human level.

Here are a few pro tips from our video crew to keep in mind before you go LIVE with your clients, vendors or colleagues.

Before the call:

Find a quiet place

As much as we want to see your face, it doesn't do us any good if we can't hear you. Find a quiet place in your home away from pets, kids, your roommate playing the drums, or any other noisy distraction. Also, let everyone you share your dwelling with know that you’ll be on a call. Use headphones to hear better and avoid possible feedback from your mic.

But don’t stress the occasional interruption. We all understand that sometimes cats walk in front of computer cameras, kids bust in unannounced, and dogs start barking wildly at menacing squirrels they see outside. Roll with it.

Follow your normal workplace dress code

Since you’re at home, it’s tempting to rock super-comfortable weekend wear like your favorite frayed college hoodie. Even in these extraordinary times, wear what you’d normally wear to the office — at least on top. Just don’t stand up during calls!

Clean your workspace

Check out what the camera can see on your walls and workspace and make sure you’re fine with everyone at work seeing that as well. Video conferences are also not the place for things like a coffee mug with off-color wording that your college friends thought was hilarious but raises everyone else’s eyebrows.

Be aware of lighting

Facing a bright light or window either head-on or at a 45-degree angle during the call lets everyone see you clearly. If your face isn't well-lit, your camera will automatically compensate for any bright light behind you (especially a window), turning you into a dark figure in front of a bright light.

Frame yourself

Position your camera and your body so you're taking up a good portion of the screen. Adjust the camera angle as close to eye level as you can. It will make you look nice and proper — and nobody will be looking up your nose.

Clean your camera

The camera in most laptop computers is in the center of the upper frame of your screen. Make sure it’s not covered with thumbprints or anything else that can make the picture hazy or obstructed.

During the call:

Mute yourself when not speaking

Muting when not speaking cuts out background noise and helps everyone on the call hear the speaker. Get in the habit of making sure you’re un-muted before you start to speak, or you’ll hear the “you’re on mute” that we’ve all already heard 100 times.

Look into the camera

This is the video chat equivalent of making eye contact. It also causes you to speak into the mic, which is the one or two pinholes beside the camera on most laptops. Make sure to use your regular clear, strong meeting voice

Remember, you’re on camera all the time, not just when speaking

Avoid eye-rolling, non-emergency nose blowing, and the like. Don’t become one of those viral videos of someone taking their laptop to the bathroom while on a call because you forgot it was a video not a telephone conference call.

If you have to deal with something that may distract the rest of the group (an urgent request from a child, dog barking out a SQUIRREL EMERGENCY, etc.) turn off your camera. Most meeting spaces give you that option. You may be able to get up and refill your coffee during a phone conference call, but it’s bad form when the camera is on.

If your home internet connection is sluggish, turning off the camera when not speaking and continuing in audio-only mode could help. Killing the video frees bandwidth that can be used to help you see and hear others better.

Got a video conferencing tip? Share it with us.