Alright, you're working from home. It's an adjustment, but you're taking it on with positive energy because you want to do your part to "flatten the curve."
You have your routine and a dedicated space for work. Working on your computer doesn't change much. But you do want to improve one element of working from home: your video calls.
Every time you've had a video call, you look like you're calling from a cave. That just doesn't say professionalism or strength in uncertain times.
We should be more understanding, and there are more important things in the world, but there's still work to be done, and it's hard to take advice or feedback from someone who looks like they're calling from an abandoned freighter lost in the depths of space.
So, let's get to it. Here are a few tips for executing professional video calls.
Get in the Right Headspace in the Morning
This first piece is generally good for staying productive while working from home. Treat a day working from home like a day working in the office, starting with your morning routine. Have your morning jog. Savour that cup of coffee. Shower. Get dressed. Wear a dress shirt and tie if it helps you get in the right mind space to get work done.
Prime your mind to think of work. Once you start setting off these triggers, your mind and body become ready to tackle your tasks.
Hello? Can You See Me? (Make Sure Your Equipment Works)
Looking professional on camera won't matter if you can't get on camera. Test your equipment before your scheduled meeting time. Close any other apps that you don't need during the call. Video calls take up a lot of bandwidth. Test your wi-fi before your call.
If your connection isn't fast enough, try getting closer to your wireless router. And if that still doesn't work, find an ethernet cable to connect to your router directly.
Choose the Angle Where You Have the Right Number of Chins
Putting your laptop on your lap during your video call seems like the right choice, but it's not always the best angle. With the camera pointing up, you can create an illusion of a double chin. Instead, keep your webcam slightly above your eye level.
Stack some flat, sturdy items around your house to raise your webcam to the right height.
Shrink your video call window and move it to the top of the screen. Your gaze instinctively goes there, so place the window near your webcam. This causes you to look straight ahead at people on the call, making it feel more like an in-person meeting.
Light It Up
Consider where you take your call. Avoid sitting (or standing) in front of blinds. The light that streams through them can mess with your camera's light adjustments. Use blackout curtains to mitigate natural light. The mixture of natural light with your lamps can make for some funky effects in your video.
White and light-coloured walls and surfaces reflect light. They bounce light around to help brighten up your meeting space.
Set yourself up with the primary light source close behind your camera. Don’t place your primary light source behind you unless you’re going for a shadowy Bond villain vibe.
Play around with a lamp or two. See which configuration illuminates you in the best way.
Another Reason Not to Wear Striped Pajamas
Your equipment works and your lighting looks good. But before you go live, you need to consider how your clothes will react to the lighting. Avoid wearing clothes that reflect a lot of light. Leave the bright colours and white clothes on the bench for now. Opt for cooler colours like muted earth tones and blues.
If a shirt and tie get you in the right mindset, go with a light blue shirt and a cooler coloured tie like a French blue or navy blue grenadine. Wearing patterns, like stripes or checkerboards, can be tempting, but the camera could create some unwanted optical illusions.
Live from Your Home, It's Your Mid-Morning Meeting!
You've spent the morning checking your equipment, adjusting your lighting, and picking the right outfit for your video call. The only thing left is the call itself.
But remember, don't be too hard on yourself. No one expects you to be perfect. Life happens. That's why you're working from home instead of your office. We're all doing our best with the situation.
No matter what, let's cut each other some slack. After all, we're in this thing together.