With video calling and conferencing becoming a preferred means of communication for organisations in the UK and internationally, how can you make sure you feel confident on camera?
Do you remember your first business video conferencing call? I do. I had been out of the working world for two years, and a potential new employer wanted to have a preliminary video conference call with me whilst I was at home, a few hours’ drive away. I was dreading it! I was predicting technical difficulties, I felt self-conscious to be on camera, would my children disturb me? Could you see a mess in the background? Would there be lots of gaps in the conversation – repetitions, awkward silences?
Of course, all of those concerns made me nervous, and it’s hard to make a good first impression when you’re nervous. If it was up to me, we would have had a telephone call, or met in person, but the customer is always right, so I set myself up, gritted my teeth, got the kids out the house, and went for it…
Three years on, and video calling is my preferred means of communication at work. Working with TecInteractive has given me first hand experience of how brilliant video communication can be. When you get it right, it boosts collaboration and communication, improves relationship building and it means that you’re not wasting time and money traveling to meetings when you could be doing other things. But how do you overcome the nerves and anxieties that threaten to thwart those benefits? These are our top tips; they worked for me so I hope they can work for you:
Look the part
Feeling confident with how you look will boost your confidence on camera. For some people that’s being suited and booted and for others it’s just knowing that you’re looking your best. Making sure you set your webcam at eye level will also help you to look and feel more natural and professional rather than like you’re self-shooting your own reality TV show!
2. Treat it like a proper meeting
Give yourself time to prepare so that when you go into the meeting you are fully prepared, and not worrying about the meeting content – as well as worrying about being on video!
3. Turn the other way
OK, not literally, but if you hate seeing yourself on camera, try minimising the window with your image or pull the window off screen and out of view. If you’re finding it tricky to do this with your video calling platform, a simple post-it on the screen to cover the video window may be just as effective.
4. Create a Video Calling Room
Whether you are in the office or working from home, creating a space that supports video calling will help you to feel more confident about the call and get you in the right head-space. You may want to think about a room where you will have less interruptions and that has good WIFI coverage.
5. Staging, Lights, Camera, Action!
As part of your video calling room or video calling space think about staging your location in a way that helps your counterpart to focus on the conversation rather than the background. Tidy away clutter or mess, and ideally sit yourself in front of a plain pastel wall that isn’t too distracting. Lighting is also really important: a well lit room is essential but you don’t want a window or a bright light behind you as your camera will struggle to show you as anything other than a silhouette.
6. Practice Video Calls
Like anything, practice makes perfect, so whether you’re nervous about using the technology or seeing yourself on screen, the more you do it, the more comfortable you will be. Find a friendly colleague or a helpful family member who you can practice with, without feeling so self-conscious.
7. Public Speaking
Part of the challenge with video conferencing is knowing how many people may be a part of the meeting. If you’re nervous about public speaking then this can really play on your mind. Just remember that you’re not alone and as many as 25% of people fear speaking in crowd. Getting some training in public speaking or presenting can really help you to overcome those nerves and feel more relaxed in a conference call situation.
8. Video Calling Technology That Just Works
Part of my nervousness about video calling was about how bad quality calls can make it difficult to have a conversation that flows. A conversation that is stilted, where you are struggling to hear, or that keeps disconnecting, can make you feel more anxious and stop you enjoying the benefits of video. But at TecInteractive, we use StarLeaf. It’s simple to use, great quality and we can use it to call anyone – even if they don’t have their own video calling system.
9. Screen Sharing and Other Tools
Being comfortable with the features of video calling that enhance its usability is a great way to overcome your inhibitions with video and to embrace the benefits it can bring. For example, screen sharing at the touch of a button helps you to replicate the collaborative elements of a face-to-face meeting rather than emailing things back and forth or trying to explain what you are looking at. With StarLeaf video conferencing you can also record meetings for people who aren’t present or bring up to 50 remote users into a meeting, whether or not they have an existing video calling set-up.
If you want to feel confident with video conference calls, a lot of it comes down to being prepared mentally. Have confidence in yourself and remember that you know what you are talking about. Armed with self-belief, and technology that just works, video conferencing will help you to communicate and collaborate more efficiently than ever before – just try it and see!