As we already know, the power of video is quickly reaching all parts of the world. From a smartphone for a quick call to family members to an executive tele-presence system for monthly board member meetings, video has become an everyday necessity for all business and leisure settings. Although a major benefit to today’s video functionality is its broad points of access – anytime, anywhere, from (almost) any device, video calls aren’t always made to be conducted at all times and from any location.
For this reason, presentation is key for a successful video call of any type. Loud/busy environments, poor network quality, and improper audio/video tools can easily turn a video call into an ugly experience. Luckily, a little planning and preparation go a long way to ensure the best video call possible.
Whether you have been using video for years or are just now exploring its possibilities, below are five easy tips for conducting a better video call.
- Let There Be Light: Obviously, the room in which a video call is conducted must be well lit. However, most overhead lights used alone during a video call cause shadows on the participant’s face, which cause the user to age about twenty years – yikes! To destroy those shadow bags under the eyes, use a desk lamp or specialty ceiling lights (more appropriately for a conference room setting) that points directly toward the face. The difference can easily be seen in the photo comparison.
- Emphasis on the Camera: Although most mobile devices these days come with a built-in camera, the best cameras for video aren’t built-in. Yes, this will require the purchase of an additional peripheral, but don’t fret; a simple USB webcam can be purchased for less than $100 and it makes a HUGE difference in video quality. See the illustration below – the photo above is using the built-in laptop camera (looks a bit cloudy or underwater-like) and the photo below is using a USB webcam (much more crisp!).
- Eyes on the Angle: Along the lines of a proper camera, the angle at which the camera is placed is just as important. For the best experience, the camera should be placed at (or slightly above) eye level to keep the user’s face at a natural conversation position – below eye level has the user looking down while participants get a less flattering view, and above eye level has the user straining his/her neck during a call while participants communicate to the user looking upward (very unnatural).
- Know Your Setting: Certain situations are difficult to control, but the ideal setting for a video call includes a background with little movement, little distractions, and little depth; when in doubt, have the video call in front of a wall. Others continuously moving behind the user, barking dogs, and a wall full of posters are all examples of distracting elements than can take the focus during a video call. Whenever possible, a simple environment is always best over video. (Fancy backgrounds like mine below can also be used if you are generally stationed at one location for video calls.)
- Dress to Impress: The same rules for an appropriate setting applies to proper clothing for video as well. Stay away from intense patterns, bright colors and inappropriate attire (i.e. sweats, baggy clothing, large graphic prints), which can cause a distraction for the viewers. Instead, choose simple, solid colors to ensure the attention stays on the conversation and not on the user’s ensemble. Basically, if the clothing is appropriate for a business meeting – wear it! If not, save it for a different occasion.
What other details are important when conducting a video call to ensure the best experience?