By Victoria Rose & Marie Meoli Rourke
Participating in a run of virtual, screen-to-screen, meetings from the comfort or chaos of your home is a new game for many of us. And whether it’s via Zoom, Teams or Skype, the high-profile fails of what not to do are playing out on morning and late-night talk shows, as well as in the mainstream media making everyone a little more paranoid and some desperate for guidance. Well, good news for those who want it! Here’s a simple list to help your screen time style:
Stay Dressed for Success & Keep a Schedule
We’ve all seen it, and many of us have done it … Half-dressed, sporting the ball cap, or worse doing both isn’t cool for the office and isn’t the best pick for work at home either. Finding a healthy, daily routine that gets you in the right headspace is essential for the workweek (and for those who’ve lost count, the workweek here in the U.S. is typically Monday through Friday). So our advice: Find a rhythm, stay dressed for success and be camera-ready. You never know – especially right now – when a future customer might beam in or a boss may call and want to see how you’re doing.
Remember, Camera Angles & Natural Lighting
First, a good web camera goes a long way. We recommend a Logitech HD webcam with a built-in privacy screen just to be safe.
Second, your camera should be at or around eye level, between your eyebrows and original hairline is a great target. A camera that is too low can be distracting and brings folks on the other end too close for anyone’s comfort. And despite what we see each and every day, you never want the camera angled up into your chest, your chin or worse your nostrils. (A bat in the cave is not what the camera or the audience is there to see.)
Third, if there’s room, put about a couple feet between you and the camera. This gives you and the audience some breathing room. Nature light hitting your face is also a good cosmetic move. Having big windows behind you with light beaming in, not so much. If you’d like to buy a Selfie Light Ring (aka as a glam light), we use QIAYA — just be sure if you wear glasses it’s not reflecting on your lenses (been there, done that!).
Be Mindful of Your Background
In today’s work-from-home chaos, everyone gets a pass and the occasional oops – a cat, a kid, a dog, a family member in their PJs walking by – is bound to happen. But the backdrop matters, which is why we have options: DIY, blur the background or pick one from the screen menu in advance – and we’re not talking Tiger King, albeit fun for virtual happy hours.
As best you can, make like a good realtor and stage your space to avoid distraction and keep people focused on what you have to say, not what is or isn’t happening behind you. If you’re not sure, videocall with a friend and ask them what they see and thinks works best.
Look into the Lens, not at the Screen
It does not feel natural, and few are doing it, but we have to stop looking down at the screen and start looking into the lens. Think about your local TV news… talk to and through the camera — look at the light! If we keep looking down at the “Brady Bunch” screen, or worse watch ourselves, we may as well write a message on our eyelids (anyone remember that from Indiana Jones?) because that’s all anyone is going to see. A hack that helps: Place a happy hour drink coaster over your corner of the screen, so at minimum, you stop watching you. Another tip: Use a Post-It Note behind your camera to remind you to “LOOK HERE” instead.
A few more tips:
- Always join a meeting on mute, and then return to mute when it’s not your turn to talk.
- Watch your body language, especially non-verbal eye rolls, head shaking and hand gestures.
- Don’t eat on camera, especially with volume ON.
- Don’t answer your mobile phone while on a video call if you can avoid it.
- If you’re hosting the meeting, call out the purpose of the call within the first few minutes of the meeting and set expectations.
- If video is your game, invest in a Yeti … and we’re not talking a mug or Abominable snowman; we’re talking a USB microphone.
- Last thing: Make sure screen sharing and recording are both OFF, unless you mean for them to be turned ON.
With these tips, you can experience screen time in style!
About the Authors
Marie Meoli Rourke is Founder and Chief Channel Strategist and Victoria Rose is Marketing and PR Intern for WhiteFox Marketing Inc., the IT channel’s “go to” team for targeted and effective communications, marketing, PR and social media expertise. Rourke also is a member of the ACW Communications Committee.