|1. cuddly jumper or tie?
No matter how cosy the jumper and baggy trousers may be, in the business world we clearly reject these favourite items.
For film and TV people, the rule is: no heavily patterned and visually distracting tops – at the end of the day with advertising! And this should also apply to your online presence. Small patterns and stripes can cause flickering in the image and strain the eyes during conference topics. More importantly, it can distract from what you have to say acoustically.
Our TIP: A friendly, relaxed business outfit, preferably in colour, but not with a flashy pattern.
2. avoid “swells
Even if there is something appealing about letting your colleagues and business partners into your private chambers virtually, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to present yourself in the right light.
Avoid the cosy couch with the laptop in front of you on your knees. We recommend a fixed, non-swivelling chair without castors. The longer a meeting lasts, the more prone we are to rocking. On the screen, this “swell” is immediately noticed by the participants and appears distracting or rude.
If possible, don’t choose a chair with a high dark backrest, it looks stifling and gloomy.
Here is another TIP for moderators or speakers: Have the courage to speak standing up. The same applies here as in a live face-to-face lecture: Standing gives you self-confidence and you have more room to gesticulate.
3. the world behind your back
Surely you have seen it before that some conference tools offer a real treasure chest of backgrounds that you can use during the conference. Our advice: Don’t do that 😉 It looks very unnatural and distracts attention from the real thing. The conference participants may wonder what you are hiding.
When choosing a room, simply make sure it has a neutral, unexciting background. Preferably a closed cabinet or a wall with selected pictures. Family photos do not belong in public and are also very distracting, as are open shelves with very colourful objects.
If your workplace is visible in the picture, remove anything distracting from the field of vision.
A note for all animal lovers: Minki or Friedolin should stay in another room for the duration of the conference. As much as you love your cat, it creates too much distraction when he roams around the picture after his nap. It’s best to lock the room during the web conference.
Our TIP: For an official conference with business partners, we recommend hanging a poster with the company logo in the background, for example.
4. nothing without light
The be-all and end-all for any kind of film and video format is light. This also applies to your web conference.
Always make sure that the image is well lit. The light should fall on your face from the front or slightly from the side, i.e. there should be a window in front of or slightly to the side of your computer.
Backlighting is a no-go. Your face will appear dark and the surroundings will dazzle and outshine the scene. If there is a window behind your desk, simply darken it with a roller shutter or blind and use another light source from the front.
Daylight is generally always preferable. In the evening, provide as many light sources as possible in the room. Dark scenes should be reserved for Hitchcock.
5. the trick with perspective
Everywhere we see them with their mobile phones on their arms stretched out wide, the bloggers and influencers of this world. They have recognised it: The skilful use of the right perspective can work wonders in front of the camera.
What applies here to the orientation of the smartphone can be applied to your webcam.
Avoid placing the webcam below your face, which is the case when you place the laptop on your knees in front of you during the meeting. You will then be looking “down” – a highly unflattering perspective. If you are not using an external webcam, place your laptop on a stack of books, for example, and position the camera centrally at eye level.
Also consider your distance from the camera: 1.5 metres between your face and the camera is ideal, but certainly not always achievable. However, it should be at least one selfie arm’s length.
Another tip at this point: if possible, do not look at your own picture during the meeting. This is not only irritating, but also inattentive. If possible, look directly at the camera or at least at the centre of the screen.
6. test 1,2,3…
Working in a home office has many advantages. For example, one usually works in a more concentrated way and there are fewer interruptions than in the office, where the colleague in the room is on the phone or spontaneous queries are thrown in from the neighbouring office. In the current situation, however, many things are different. The partner often works from home, the children play in the background, the postman rings the doorbell and Waldi starts barking.
In order to reduce the amount of background noise at home, try to find a room that can be locked and to which you can retreat alone for the duration of the meeting.
It is best to use headphones, as this will minimise the ambient noise and provide better sound quality. For less call-centre flair, go for wireless in-ear headphones, which look more natural in the picture.
A note for the ladies: As chic as it may be, steer clear of big earrings or jingling bangles for the call. All this can lead to annoying sound interference. Adjust the volume precisely before the meeting starts so that there is no reverberating echo among the participants at the start.
Our TIP: 5 minutes before the start of the web conference you should take time to test all functions and settings of the camera and sound sufficiently. This will give you confidence and you can concentrate fully on your participants and content.
7. your most important instrument
Alone in your home office all day, it’s a good idea to wake up your voice before the digital conference starts.
Prepare your voice so that it sounds clear and convincing. It’s your most important tool, especially when you’re giving a long talk, whether in a virtual room or a live meeting.
Here are a few exercises to prepare your voice:
Grimacing for just under a minute helps to loosen your facial features. Then click your tongue several times like a horse and let your lips vibrate. Then yawn several times with a wide open mouth and a loud sound. Finally, sing a short song, one verse is enough 🙂 .
But be careful: the camera should be switched off at all times 😀 It’s best to tape it up until you start the meeting.
We have one more TIP for you: At the beginning of the meeting, ask whether you can be heard well and keep the volume at a suitable level. There is usually no reason to speak louder into a microphone than you would in a face-to-face meeting. Also, make sure that the microphone is not too close to your mouth, especially when using a headset. This can cause unpleasant noises when breathing in and out.
8. body language
In an online meeting, the frame limits the field of vision for all participants. Since the eyes are less likely to wander, your posture becomes even more important than in a live meeting.
A slumped or reclined posture can come across as disinterested and bored. Make sure you sit up straight, this makes you look dynamic and active.
Feel free to use your hands when you speak. However, avoid gestures that are too large – think of the limited field of vision – or gestures that are too fast – think of the transmission speed and time delay.
Facial expressions also play a big role. Always remain “visually” attentive. Please don’t start a Google search or check your smartphone on the side. All this is much more noticeable on the limited screen content than in a real meeting – where it politely doesn’t belong either.
9. oops, there’s Minka
There is one more topic we want to draw attention to and ask the question: How do you deal with unexpected disruptions in the middle of a web meeting?
You’ve probably experienced it many times, whether it’s technical faults: “Oops, the picture’s gone!”, “Hello, can you still hear me, there’s a noise on the line” or very tangible incidents when Minka the cat jumps onto your lap purring after her afternoon nap.
The rule here is: notice disturbances and address them proactively! If a disturbance occurs with you or another conference topic, deal with it. For example, help your colleague to solve his technical problem so that he feels taken seriously. If Minka comes to visit you – even though the door is closed – talk about it briefly and openly, then you can continue in a relaxed manner.
Last but not least, a tip that seems self-evident but is often neglected: value your colleagues’ contributions and let them finish. It often helps to wait a moment longer before replying, as there can be delays in the transmission due to the connection.
Take a moment before your next meeting to remember these 9 points. This way you will be prepared for all the little obstacles in digital cooperation.
If you need further TIPS or assistance in times of the “new normal”, please contact us at any time, we are available with advice and support.