Who Knew Video-conferencing Was So Complex?

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Oh, man. I’m late! How can it be 8:20 already? And who schedules these “meetings” so early? Ugh. All right, let’s do this. Brush teeth, crank out a K-cup, fire up computer, log in to VC. Whew. 8:29. Made it on time. I am the master of time management. Aaaaw yeah.

Wait, what the what? How? When? Wait, what is going on?

Boss: “Ok, good to see everyone this morning on our first video-conference during this “distancing” exercise. I know it’s early and we are all working through some challenges with working from home, tending to kids, and our new work environments. I’m proud of you all for being flexible during this transition. Hopefully, everything will go back to normal in a few weeks, but for now let’s all keep our spirits up and keep well connected. I’d like to go around the “room” and get a sense of how each of you are doing working from home.”

Ok, well that could have gone better. Sheesh! I look terrible. And my house looks a wreck! Not sure how I didn’t get the memo. Everyone looked refreshed, prepared, and…how did Margaret make it look like she lives in a tropical paradise?

Phone rings.

“Oh, hey, Margaret. Yeah, that was, um…fun. I can’t believe I was the only one in my PJs. Hey, when did you move to the beach?

Oh, that was a background? Really? How do I do that? Wait, and your skin looks great! What are you doing since you’ve been working from home? You look fantastic!

Oh, it’s a filter? Really? How do I do that? Hmmm. Can you help me out? I don’t want to look like I just fell out of bed on our next VC.

Thanks! I’ll check my email.”

Wow. I did not know about this. Let’s check this out.

Log in, go to Settings, Video. Hey, I look fabulous!

Now let’s go to Virtual Background. Sweet!

Good, now I’m ready for my next call. Gotta check my LinkedIn profile to see how my other peeps are doing right now.

Wow. Lots going on. Everyone is really into this videoconferencing thing. Seems like I’m the last one to get on board. Hey, what’s this?


That looks like a great course. Just thirty minutes? And it’s free? Really? Ok, I’m in!

Thirty-five minutes later…

I am so ready for our call tomorrow.

Twelve hours later…

Boss: All right, folks. Good call today. Thanks for joining and sharing. You guys are really showing your best work these last few days. I appreciate you all very much. And Jimmy, I’d like to talk with you privately after the call if that’s ok.

Oh, crap. What did I do? I thought I was really professional. Did I say something inappropriate…again?

Phone rings.

“Good morning, This is Jimmy. Oh, hello, Mark. I didn’t think you would call that fast.

Well yes, after yesterday’s VC, I realized I looked pretty bad compared to the rest of you, so I did some reading and learned a few tricks for presenting better on calls.

Well, thank you, Mark. I appreciate the compliment and I’d be happy to lead the next meeting. See you tomorrow.”

I have to share these tips with Margaret. She was so nice to help me yesterday. I want her to be her best too!

Tips to Improve Executive Presence on VC Calls:

  • Preparation
    • Practice your speaking parts beforehand
    • Have your presentation up on the screen and ready
    • Get enough sleep the night before
  • Participation
    • Announce yourself and use other’s names when speaking to them
    • Don’t interrupt others
  • Stage Design
    • Raise the camera to eye level (you don’t want people looking up your nose or at the ceiling)
    • Frame yourself to capture your chest and head
    • Position your head to the upper middle third of the screen (think of a tic-tac-toe grid), but leave enough space at the top so your head is not cut off
    • Clear the background so it is not distracting or turn on a virtual background (Green screen or blank backdrop dramatically improves the virtual background effect.)
  • Eye Contact and Body Language
    • Look into the camera, not others (or yourself) on the screen
    • Sit up straight and tall, don’t slouch
    • Use natural hand gestures, but don’t point at the camera
  • Wardrobe
    • Wear solid, jewel-tone colors (sapphire blue, ruby red, emerald green)
    • Avoid floral patterns and stripes (they are distracting and create distortion on screen)
    • Avoid silk, satin, and shiny fabrics (they reflect light and create glare on screen)
  • Lighting
    • Always have a light source in front of you, but behind the camera (Seriously, get a ring light.)
    • Do not have a window or bright light behind you (creates silhouette effect)
    • Side lighting creates a warm ambiance
  • Audio
    • Invest in a good microphone. (The camera on your laptop is fine, but that microphone is not.)
    • Test your microphone before the call
    • Turn off music, close doors, and silence phone and computer notifications

Your Mindful Moment:

Sometimes things look complex, but with a little reading and a little learning, you quickly become an expert.

Be safe and be your best!

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