If you strip it down, the microphone is the most important, the most frustrating, part of all video conference calls. First of all, we recommend checking it is working prior to your call. To avoid echo or background noise interference, using an external microphone is advised (such as the Blue Yeti USB Microphone). Alternatively, the easiest way to avoid interference and pretty much guarantee true sound quality is by using a headset or headphones. Small headphones from your phone work but we would recommend a specialist headset such as these
Your microphone can pick up a lot of background noise so learn when it is appropriate to mute yourself. We recommend this whenever you are not speaking for an extended period of time.
Camera and lighting
Firstly, check the camera works prior to a call. Secondly, position the camera at eye level and around an arm’s length away, this will ensure the other people on the call can see you and allow you to make eye contact. Once you have positioned the camera it can help to reduce the amount of natural light in the room by closing blinds or curtains. Positioning two lights one at a 45-degree angle to the left of you and one at a 45-degree angle to the right. Position both lights at a 45-degree angle upwards so the light is pointing down on you. If you already have one placing a blue light in your background can help sharpen up your image. Ensure you make eye contact with the camera itself and stay focused….(more on this below)
With home offices varying from kitchens, home offices, bedrooms and living rooms it can be useful to remove clutter from the back of the shot to reduce distractions. Placing a greenscreen behind you can allow alternative backgrounds to be implemented and advertise your company’s logo for instance. Software such as Microsoft Teams allows you to blur your background removing the distractions for you.
As tempting as it is to check your emails, read articles or even eat, ensure that you are attentive, focused and receptive on the call. On a video call, you are more visible than an in person meetings and the videos don’t lie, it is easy to see when people aren’t engaged!
If you know you will need to share your screen, ensure you are comfortable with the software to avoid any unprofessional delays. We would recommend clearing your desktop of any other documents not relevant to the call to ensure you don’t accidently share any confidential information!