11 ways to prepare before a video conference » The Daily Remote

11 ways to prepare before a video conference

6 min read

Wes Hicks

Before you have a remote job, you need to prepare for the eventuality of having a video conference. You could have a video interview for a potential remote job as well.

When you have a remote job, it’s important that you be your professional self on video as you would in person in an office. Non-verbal communication still makes up 90% of all communication even if you work from home.

In this article, I’m going to cover the 11 ways you should prepare before you have a video conference from home.

    1. Background
      You should be aware of what others can see around and behind you. While you should be the focus of the camera, others can see your surroundings and it can sometimes cause distraction when you are trying to stick to a meeting agenda. Here are some ways you can optimize your background to eliminate distractions:

      • Purchase a green screen (folding pop-out portable screen, green paint, or green screen fabric). Most companies are using Zoom as their video conference solution (I highly recommend it). Here’s how to use a virtual background with Zoom.
      • Pick a location in your home, co-working space, or other place you would work from home that is relatively clear of background noise. This could be a blank wall, a curtain, or a corner with minimal decoration.
      • Make sure that you will have minimal distractions during your video conference. Plan to be 100% focused for important video conferences. Don’t be this guy.
    2. Preferred audio/video devices selected and audio/acoustic levels are appropriate for your room
      • Avoid asking “can everyone hear me?” and “can everyone see my screen?” it’s better to join the video conference or virtual meeting early so you can ensure these things are working properly.
      • Test your audio and video at least 10-15 minutes prior to a meeting so you can assume your devices are working and address meeting agenda sooner. The sooner you ensure you are prepared for the meeting, the sooner you can accomplish the goals set forth in the meeting agenda.
    3. Firmware/drivers/software all up-to-date and compatible with output devices, etc.
      Sometimes, you need to update software or firmware that is required for your device to operate audio or video properly. You should follow the update instructions as required by your devices. For example, I have a USB device called Dragonfly that enhances digital audio to deliver more natural sounding audio through your audio devices.
    4. Proper attire, outward appearance is presentable, posture good, be aware of your facial expressions as nonverbal communication is just as important in this setting
      At the end of the day, a video conference assists your colleagues in understanding and empathizing with you and your outlook. While most people don’t want to be judged by outward appearances, this is still an aspect that is used to understand another person. I personally don’t believe you have to be 100% perfect to attend a video conference, however, you should be your genuine, professional self.
    5. Water to drink nearby
      Some video conferences can extend longer than their intended time. It is helpful to be fully prepared by having a glass of water or bottled water nearby. This not only helps you stay hydrated but also helps you articulate properly.
    6. Conference window is in the same monitor as your webcam
      In order to help you and your colleagues or other video participants feel as if they are in the same room, it’s helpful to make sure you’re looking at their video. Always place the web conference video in the same monitor as your webcam. You don’t always have to look at the webcam. But when you look at the same monitor as the webcam, it feels more like a face-to-face conversation.
    7. Use well-designed presentations with the correct aspect ratio, etc.
      I cannot stress this enough. Anyone who has taken time out of their busy day to attend your meeting is looking for any insight or value they can take away. If you cannot contribute value information or insight to a meeting, then you should probably not attend. Make sure your presentations are well-constructed and designed.
    8. Meeting agendas are simple, clear, and focused with expectations understood prior to the meeting
      If you are the one conducting a virtual meeting, you should ensure that you have a clear agenda attached to the meeting invite. This way, any attendees can add objectives or insight to your meeting agenda which can make the meeting go by faster and save everyone valuable time. Small talk has its purpose. Create a separate “non-work chat” meeting. Leave work meetings for making decisions quickly so that everyone can accomplish their goals more efficiently.

Tip: create a Google doc to capture the agenda, any questions, meeting notes, and action items that you can link to the meeting on the calendar. This way, everyone can reference it for further use and any decisions made can be documented.

  1. Small talk acceptable, but don’t derail
    As stated in the previous point, small talk has its place. Even in a meeting that has a specific agenda, it’s acceptable to have a some small talk to encourage camaraderie, but you shouldn’t waste others’ time. You can and should schedule video conference time as a remote worker with your colleagues to get to know them on a personal level.
  2. Keep outside distractions to a minimum
    This is an obvious one but sometimes you cannot always prevent the background noise and distraction around you. Try your best to anticipate any distraction or noise in advance. Here are some examples:

    • Kids
    • Pets
    • Lawnmowers
    • Vehicles
  3. Good lighting is everything
    This is true for photography as well as video and virtual conferences. Position your computer near natural light if you can. Alternatively, you can use an additional light to highlight your face a little better. Test out your screen for any glare prior to the conference.

From @workingrem: Start with prep for any meeting. Can the right people attend? Have they had time to pre-read required materials? Then add tech: test the collaboration platform, ensure people can join using their hardware. When it’s time to meet, remove distractions and stick to your agenda.

How to have a video conference while traveling

Lastly, if you have to conduct a video call while you are traveling here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • If you can be on the call in your hotel room, put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
  • Try to find a quiet place where you talk without a lot of people or background noise like:
    • Renting a conference room in a hotel
    • Go to the nearest library (sometimes they have conference rooms to check out)
    • A cafe in the hotel lobby or nearby (pick a corner table away from others if possible)
    • If you rented a car, go out to your car and use your mobile phone to dial in

Have you ever done a video interview or video conference? What tips did I miss?

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