Virtual communication – You are your communication: Part Two
In our COVID-19 world, virtual communications have never been more important than right now. This could be informally with friends and family, or increasingly, in our business context. What is certain, when we return to ‘normal’, it will not be the ‘normal’ that we were used to. The seismic shock that we are experiencing will shape the future. It will never be the same again.
On that sobering thought, we all need to learn to use the virtual context in a way that helps, not hinders, our communication.
In this series of articles, I look at some of the ‘quick wins’ – simple things that you can do to significantly improve the way you come across when communicating through the screen.
In this second installment of ‘top tips for managing your virtual environment’, I explore simple things you can do to make you look even better than you do already (!) whilst using your laptop as your communication portal, in order to maximise the impact of ‘you’ as the communicator.
A bad tradesman blames their tools
We’ve all heard this…something goes wrong with the ‘tech’…and people blame their tools/tech/children streaming movies/weather/anything else they can think of. Ultimately…it’s down to you to do your best to come across as well as you can, given the constraints of your (probably currently ‘home office’) environment.
Here, I have assembled a few ‘top tips’ on what can be in your control – thanks to my colleague Nick Todd for content drawn from his original blog ‘Four ways to look fabulous on webcam’ on this subject.
Light it up
Having a good quality light source positioned behind the webcam is essential. If you’re able to position yourself with a good-sized window behind your webcam you will have totally free, high-quality light. LED lights, like desk lamps, have a ‘temperature’ that’s close to daylight and are another great option for natural-looking light.
Find higher ground
Position your webcam high up, ideally just above eye level so that you can look straight into the lens without ‘looming over’ other people. (Nobody wants to have an intimate view of your nostrils!) Desktop stands for your laptop can really help with this (or simply put an old chair on a table for your laptop to rest upon !)
Frame the shot
An easy way of framing the image is to angle the camera so that your mouth is roughly in the middle of the image. Position yourself far enough away so that the other person will see all of your head and your shoulders. This way the focus will be on YOU.
Manage your background
Take a look over your shoulder… is it a complete disaster zone? If there’s anything there that’s going to be distracting, then remove it: a plain background works best. You want people to focus on you, not what’s going on behind you.
Sort out the tech
- Get to know the platform you are using – what it can and cannot do. You do not need to become a ‘superuser’…use the wonders of the internet and watch a couple of YouTube videos to explain how.
- Check your connection. You don’t need a lot of bandwidth to make it work…but it does need to be reliable. Check you have around 3-4 Mbps for HD video…check it on www.speedtest.net. Plug directly into your router with a cable where you can, in order to increase reliability…and yes, politely ask those around you not to be downloading UHD movies when you really need your fair share of bandwidth!
- Help manage others’ environments on the call – ask them to shut down bandwidth-consuming programmes such as browsers and email, and distracting ‘pings’ from ‘push’ notifications on some software.
Here at EFG, we normally work from our studio in our office with a ‘fully professional setup’. Now, along with the rest of the world, I’m working from home. This is my setup – it works pretty well…notice the height of the desk so I can stand, the lights illuminating the ‘scene’, natural light from the window in front, the additional microphone to make sure I’m heard without echo, a clicker to help move my presentation along easily. Oh, yes, and Crazy Dave, the Urban Goat (by Paul James), off camera, of course!
In the third instalment of tips around virtual communications we will look at how you can build rapport quickly with your audience, setting them up to participate rather than simply passively observing the meetings you are running.
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