Handy Tips and Tricks for Virtual Calls

Work did not stop due to the 2020 lockdown in response to COVID-19. It certainly hasn’t for #Octagonaindia and same for the rest of the world. Instead, there was an overnight transformation from office workers into telecommuters. We were all forced to adapt as quickly and as creatively as possible. This led to moving many processes, activities and events from the real world into the digital world. Video calls and virtual meetings have taken on an unprecedented role in ensuring business still gets done.

Just as #Octagona, many companies settled into a new standard of expanded remote work policies, this is a great time to revisit the technical and aesthetic aspects of online calls. Whether it’s making a virtual sales call, presenting results to your team, replying to the queries of the client, or demonstrating a new product, it’s never been more important to make sure you “get it right” when it comes to exhibiting your digital self. A bit of preparation will take us a long way to making video calls super convenient and tolerable for not only us but our clients.

Getting the Right Image and Sound

Test your setup. One of the important aspects of videoconferencing is the call itself. The entire purpose of the call is lost if the call does not look and sound good, with minimal tech goofs. It is important to preview your webcam and microphone. On Windows 10, you can open the Camera and Voice Recorder apps to see how your webcam and microphone are performing before having to do it “live.” Video platforms such as Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, and Webex also allow you to perform test calls (or set up your own empty meeting in the case of Meet) to ensure your technology is working properly.  Ideally, perform an actual test call with a colleague so that they can offer tips and you can make any necessary tweaks in advance of the real call.

Check Internet Speeds. Since most of the people are staying home and using the internet at the same time, it is quite a possibility that bandwidth and services slowdowns in many areas. Visit speedtest.net to check your internet speeds. If the speed is below 20 megabits per second, there are higher chances pixelated videos and delayed audio.

Dress to impress. An unwritten rule for video calls and remote work is “business on the top, pajamas on the bottom.” Once you’ve got the right angle on your webcam, it is important to ensure that the “top” is professionally appropriate attire you’d feel comfortable wearing. Dress how you would for an in-person meeting. One technical note: regardless of the type of clothing, avoid intricate patterns and extreme colors such as white, black, and red; they have trouble showing up accurately on camera

Controlling Your Environment

Nail the right height. One of the most common mistakes people make on a video call is looking down at their webcam. This is an unflattering view for the person on the other side. Place your laptop or webcam higher up—by setting it on top of a stack of books, or a shelf instead of a desk surface—so that the camera lens is just above your eye level.

Light from the front. When choosing the best spot for your webcam setup, try to avoid environments with fluorescent or direct overhead lighting, and be especially wary of sitting with a window behind you. A backlit shot will often look blown-out or force your camera to have trouble focusing throughout the call. Instead, face a window or lamp so that you’ll be lit from the front. If your room has windows on two walls, try to orient your camera so that they are to your left and right.

Consider the backdrop. Another important aspect of picking the right spot is to keep in mind what your prospects will see behind you in the frame. You want as neutral a background as possible. Avoid wall art, posters, or paintings that could be considered inappropriate or have complex patterns or colors that might confuse your camera. Double-check for any visible mess or clutter in the room and if needed, reorient the view (or just clean up a bit!) to present a more professional environment. Or you can also opt for Virtual Backgrounds.

Usage of Mute Button. Mute your side of the call if you are not speaking since the microphone can pick up background noises. Muting allows others on the call to easily hear the person speaking without distractions.

Virtual Body Language

Maintain eye contact. This is one of most difficult things for anyone to do on a video call as your natural instinct will be to look at the face of the other participant(s), or the small camera view of yourself on the screen. This is the equivalent of trying to sell to someone in-person while looking slightly off to the side the entire time you’re speaking to them. Look directly into your camera lens (which you’ve already adjusted to a comfortable height) just as you’d ordinarily look others in the eye to establish trust and communicate more naturally.

Check your tone. Ideally, during a video call, you want to keep your voice relaxed and consistently in the mid-range in terms of pitch. This will help establish your confidence and calm no matter the topic. Speaking at high or low pitches can be interpreted as a sign of worry, especially as prospects may be seeking reassurance in times of uncertainty

Choose your posture. Because you are likely at home during a video call, it’s easy to lapse into a slouch or overly relaxed pose. This can convey the message that you are not 100% focused on the call and may even make you more difficult to understand over your mic. Sit up straight or consider standing if your camera height with allow for it—just remember to keep your pajama bottoms out of the frame!

Stay Attentive and Focused. Be attentive and engaged during the call. Refrain yourself from doing any other work such as sending emails, using mobile etc. Its equally important to pay attention to whoever is speaking as others can see where you are looking. If there is a pause in the conversation because of pulling up an email or referral document, make sure to communicate the same. Delays or long stretches of silence might give an impression of lost communication. Hence its important to keep everyone on the same page



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