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  • Emilie Heaney

How to video call like a professional

Watching the news every night, it’s hard not to notice the varying video calling techniques of BBC correspondents and interviewees as they tune in from their homes to keep up with social distancing measures. There’s been a range of successes and failures, from poor connection to messy studies, with everyone doing their best to carry on as normal.

The problem with video calling is that distractions can detract from the important points being made. Now more than ever, getting your video calling technique sorted is a really important part of doing business. With millions of us working from home, video call has become our central link to our clients, business partners and team members.

We’ve narrowed down our essential tips for video calling, to help you get your message across, wherever you are.

1. Get organised

The cardinal sin of video calling is a poor internet connection. There is nothing more annoying than trying to conduct a business meeting with someone whose connection keeps dropping or interrupting. Of course, there’s only so much you can do to control this factor but if you have a patchy connection, get as close to your router as possible.

Once you’re there, take the time to check your video and your microphone performance too. Angle your camera so that it’s well-centred on your face and not just your chin or forehead. Although people will still be able to hear you in these positions, you’ll be much more likely to get your point across if they can also see your face. Eye contact is reassuring, even if it’s only through a screen. These steps should be done well in advance of your video call to make sure that you’re completely organised before it starts.

2. Consider your backdrop

You’ll want to prioritise finding a quiet space, away from the noise of the rest of the house, but it’s also a good idea to take a look at the background for your call. Your home can have more of an influence than you might think! This is especially true if you plan to be talking to existing or potential clients - a messy study full of precarious piles of paper and files probably won’t fill them with confidence!

As in traditional interviews, presentation can have a big impact on first impressions and now that includes your home! If possible, find somewhere with a clean, neutral background that isn’t going to cause too much distraction for the person on the other end of the call. Look for a spot that won’t have family members or flatmates walking in and out behind you too. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for you to communicate with your callers so don’t let your backdrop get in the way!

3. Dress the part

Keeping professionalism in mind, you might also want to consider your work wardrobe. Video calling with friends and family is a relaxed affair but if you’re calling someone in a business context, it’s a good idea to wear something other than pyjamas!

A formal suit probably isn’t necessary but a shirt or a work appropriate top or dress is a good idea. Once again, this is about giving your clients and colleagues confidence that you haven’t taken your foot off the gas just because you’re working from home. You can always change back into sweatpants when you’re finished!

4. Be early

When you’re video calling from home, it’s really hard to make an excuse for being late! If you know that you have other pressures like childcare to contend with, try to build in a 10 minute buffer between the start of your call and everything else. Aim to be sat at your desk well in advance of your call starting. This is as much for you as for anyone else. You need that time to clear your head, get your ideas straight in your mind and mentally prepare for the meeting to get the most out of it.

5. Remember - you’re on camera!

As well as trying to avoid unexpected interruptions and keeping your caller waiting, probably the best advice anyone can give is to remember you’re on camera! The people on the other end of the call can see everything you do so get organised before the call begins, make sure your background is appropriate and whatever you do, remember they can see you.

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