Here are the five tips you and your team can start doing right away to drastically improve your professionalism when speaking with a customer via one of these platforms.
1: USE PROPER LIGHTING
Lighting is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your professionalism during a video call. For example, I’m sure we’ve all been in meetings where someone is positioned with their back towards a window. Sitting like this creates the impression that the person is in the witness protection program. To fix this, sit with your computer so the window is in front or to the side of you. Doing so allows the natural light to illuminate you in most cases properly. Sometimes though, we can’t sit with a window like that in our office area. In those cases, I recommend using a three-point lighting technique that requires a fill light off to your left, a key light to your right front, and a back light behind you, as shown in this illustration. You could use expensive pro-level lights or simple architect style lamps that you can purchase from Staples, which is what I use. Not all light bulbs are created equally for lighting. Use daylight blue bulbs for a more natural look, especially if you do have some natural light coming in from a window.
- Use natural lighting
- Apply 3-point lighting
- Don’t overdo it
2: DITCH YOUR LAPTOP WEBCAM AND USE YOUR PHONE
A trick I use regularly is to connect my iPhone via a USB cable to my laptop and use it as a camera in Zoom meetings. Your phone’s camera is almost always better than your laptop’s built-in webcam. If you don’t believe me, check out the images below for a comparison. The image on the left shows my MacBook Pro’s webcam vs. my iPhone XS Max camera during a video call. The quality difference is pretty startling.
To do this, you need to download an app on your phone and install some drivers onto your computer. I’ve found two apps that work well: Neural Cam Live and Epoch Cam HD. Take a look at the links below for further details.
- Think about using a separate webcam or mobile phone
- Neural Cam Live App
- Epoch Cam HD App
3: FRAME THE SHOT PROPERLY
If you do only two out of these five tips, make sure it is proper lighting and framing the shot correctly by putting the camera at eye level. When the camera is positioned low, for example, it’s shooting upward at the person creating a worm’s eye view, which isn’t flattering. If you’re using your laptop’s camera, prop it up on boxes or books until eye level, or use your mobile phone as a camera mounted to a tripod making it easy to frame your shot. Once the camera is at eye level, visually divide your shot horizontally and vertically. Align yourself in the center and make sure your eyes are aligned on the horizontal line, as shown in this image.
- Keep the camera at eye level
- Position yourself directly in the middle
4: BE AWARE OF YOUR BACKGROUND
The background is everything visible behind you while you’re on camera. It should represent your company and your brand. You don’t want it to be too dull or too stimulating. Your background needs to reinforce who you are and be secondary to you on camera. White bookshelves work well because they aren’t distracting and allow you to put subtle items representing your company and you. If you can help it, don’t use your living room, kitchen, or dining room as a background. There are too many things you can’t control, and the person you’re meeting can get distracted.
In those cases where you need to be in your kitchen, you should try using a virtual background to reduce distractions. Not all video conferencing services support them, and not all computers can do them without requiring a green screen, so you’ll need to test this out to see what your computer setup is capable of doing. If you do use a virtual background, everything I just talked about still applies.
- Don’t make it distracting
- Reinforce your brand
- Try not to use your living room
- Think about virtual backgrounds
5: GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR INTERNET CONNECTION
When doing these virtual meetings from home, don’t attend video meetings using your mobile data network unless you have no alternative. It would be best if you had at least a 20Mbps download speed and 2.5 Mbps up. Zoom, for example, prefers a minimum of 10 Mbps up/down on a hardwired Ethernet or fiber connection. When I’m in my home office meeting with customers, I’m getting 200 Mbps download and 8 Mbps upload speeds. Remember, faster internet is always better.
Make sure to turn off any intensive network services before a meeting. So if your kids are playing an online game on Xbox or someone in your home is binge-watching Netflix at the same time you’re trying to have a Zoom meeting, those will cause your internet connection to be slower.
If you’re unsure how to determine what internet speed you’re actually getting, I’ve found that the easiest test is to go to google.com in your browser and search for “how fast is my internet.” This will return a result with a blue run test button that will give you a reliable snapshot of your internet speed. If possible, connect to your internet using an ethernet connection. Hardwired is almost always better. There are some exceptions to this, but in general, it’s a good guideline.
- Don’t use your mobile data plan
- Utilize a good broadband service
- Turn off Netflix
- Connect to a LAN vs. Wifi
- Google Search “How fast is my internet?”