Hello everyone and welcome! Hello, ok great, you can hear me, but can you see me? Is my camera on? Oops sorry, my camera was muted, yet again! In today’s “new reality” many of us spend most, if not our entire workday, in virtual meetings. Some organizations have taken it a step further and mandate employees to use their cameras for all work-related events. Whether you are presenting, collaborating or merely attending a virtual meeting, you are required to be “camera-ready.” The goal is simple; bring the feeling of an in-person meeting to the online world and enhance the user experience for all participants.
Remember a time (11 months ago) when you had to commute to your office every day? Would you have shown up to a meeting in sweatpants, with your hair all a mess? Would you have entered a conference room without making eye contact with your colleagues or customers, or sat quietly in the dark while the meeting took place? If you answered yes, I can’t help you. If you answered no, as I suspect most of you did, then why do we expect to behave any differently for online meetings?
Being camera-ready may feel like a major inconvenience, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you prepare for your daily 8-hour close-up.
- Be alert, be attentive, be present. Remember that even though you may not have the floor, your face is still on camera. Watch out for the resting face that seems distracted or uninterested.
- Position your camera as close to eye level as possible. Looking someone in the eye is always a good idea. A stack of books or a cardboard box will do.
- Use a neutral or natural background. Keep the focus on you and not what’s happening behind you. A virtual background is another option available in most online meeting software products.
- Don’t look into the light! Unless of course you actually want to be seen in a virtual environment. Light is your friend, when it’s in front of you. Don’t sit with windows and bright lights behind you to avoid looking look like someone from the witness protection program. Natural light varies with time of day; lighting that may be perfect for your morning meetings will likely change as the day goes on. Consider a small ring light for consistent, all-day lighting.
- Dress for success! At least from the waist up. 😊 We’re all glad that the days of dressing up are behind us but be sure to look professional.
- Lastly, invest in some duct tape to take care of the unwanted distractions that could suddenly appear on camera while working from home.