The Eleven Critical Tips for Successful Videoconferencing: Part 1- Location, Location, Location

The start of any good meeting (in person or virtual) always begins with your meeting preparation. And just like any good realtor will tell you, it’s all about “location, location, location.”

LIGHTS: Your computer should be positioned so there is no bright light behind you. Keep your light in front of you, and at no more than a 45 degree angle to being directly in front. If you are doing evening calls, be aware that your computer screen can add additional light to your face.

Many people have invested in “ring lighting” and other fancy attachments for their computer/cameras. If you want to invest $2-300 in upgrading your lighting (and camera, and maybe a newer computer to handle the higher resolution, oh and don’t forget faster Internet at home…) that’s great – but wait until you’ve done all our recommendations here and you know exactly what you need (and how often you’re going to need it) to be successful.

Man on toilet with laptop computer
This is not the best location for video conferencing.

CAMERA: Raise your camera up to just a smidge below eye level (yes, that is a technical term). Use books, a higher tabletop, or even a stool to place your computer on (assuming a notebook with a built-in camera) so that for others in the meeting their view of you is eye level. Always be certain that you center yourself on your camera frame, and that your head is slightly above center vertically in the view without cutting off the top of your head.

Find someplace quiet; while you may be used to the kids screaming, barking dogs, trash pickup day, and the neighbors deathmetal polka band rehearsing next door, they are all distractions to the rest of your meeting team. Be aware of the small things (air conditioner, dishwasher, etc) that may not seem loud to you but are right in line with your microphone. If you can’t avoid ambient distractions, consider using earbuds or headphones with your computer. While wireless is all the rage, if you have wired (since you won’t be moving away from the computer) will eliminate problems or interference issues with Bluetooth headsets.

ACTION: 
Remember that with children and spouses around, the kitchen may not be the best room in the world to set up for your meeting. Unless you need to channel your inner Julia Childs it’s best to be somewhere that isn’t likely to be heavily trafficked and you interrupted. If you didn’t hold budget meetings at work in the office lobby last year… well, you get the idea.

On the subject of “where” – think about what is showing in the frame behind you. That funny “fart” award that your crazy Uncle Bunky gave you when you were twelve may be a cherished family heirloom, but it will detract from the proceedings as it peers over your shoulder at the virtual board meeting of the Civic Betterment Society of Bedford Falls. If you need to, have a close friend check out the view for you. Sometimes we get so used to odd belongings, a frayed chair, or that door frame chewed up that time a raccoon wandered into the house, that we don’t realize they may not telegraph the image we want to present to our co-workers, clients, etc.

I can’t finish this section without reminding everyone that while we will make the appropriate noises of approval (no one wants to be “that” person, after all), interrupting the meeting to show off your pet, child, or spouse is annoying. You didn’t bring them into office conference room so they could run around the table barking (or yelling), so no one really needs to see them via camera, either. A quick introduction or acknowledgement if they happen to inadvertently wander into the frame (You’re not in the kitchen, right?) is all that is needed.

PREVIOUS: Introduction
NEXT: Part 2: Be Prepared