Monday, 15 June 2020

How to improve Video Calls easily in 5 Minutes

Hello internet friends. Welcome back. Today's lesson might seem simple, but I have a video called with enough friends this week, to realize that y'all could use some serious help. Looking just a little bit more professional, and definitely more presentable on video calls. 

video call interface

Like a lot of people, I use Zoom, and that's mostly because trying to figure out my Skype password that I made when I was 18 has been like. But with the uptick in Zoom users, has come an uptick in privacy concerns. User information has reportedly been leaked to third parties, and numbers are easy to guess, which is leading to Zoombombing, which is now a legitimate term. And privacy advocates even see some concerns with how Zoom evades Marcos administration controls to install itself on your computer. So even though I'm super comfortable with Zoom, I've also found some alternatives, like Houseparty, Webex, and even creating a new account for Skype.

Now before you can be on a call, you gotta set up a call. And there are great slack apps for Skype, Webex, and Zoom that allow you to quickly create videocall invites within chats, and if you use Google Calendar, and you want to install the zoom for GSuite extension, that'll allow you to select zoom as a video option when creating calendar invites. 

Video Call Setup

Now that you've set up the call, let's talk about looking presentable on camera. Now there are some of you that are probably like, "Hmm, Becca how are you qualified for this?" And to that, I raise exhibits A, B, and C.

First and foremost, my favorite thing in the whole world, Get that good light. 
Open your shades and let all that natural light pour in. But don't do it dirty by sitting with your back to it. I recommend having your largest light source either right in front of you, or no more than 45 degrees from directly in front of you. Also, be aware that your computer screen might be the largest source of light, so adjust that too. You don't wanna be blowing yourself out lookin' like a little ghostie up in here.
All right, now that you lighting, you gotta get your camera at the right angle. And there's only one option, eye level. I'm saying, use a book, use a stool, use literally whatever you have to use, but get the camera at your eye level. You can check yourself out, but do it before the call starts. Not at the beginning, the middle, and the end, or just, throughout the whole thing. 

You know, and I know, and we all know, that you look the best on this video call. But we also all know that you're staring at yourself. It's not only distracting to you, but it's distracting to everybody else, too. 

You want to show up at the meeting already looking good. For me, that means opening up a photo booth, before the call even starts, and making sure my background is like, clear of dirty clothes, the angle is good, and well, I look like thedamn champion that I am. There's also the option of using a background to completely block your surroundings. And y'all are getting, like, really creative with these, but here are my favorites. 

In the settings of most video conferencing apps, you also have the option to have your video and audio off by default when you join a call. Since I know I'm showing up with, incredible video if I do say so myself. I leave my video turned on, but I am sure to have my audio defaulted to be off when I join a meeting, and you should too, but, more on that later.

Also in the settings of Webex, Zoom, and Skype, you have the option to have a video preview of your video pop up before you join a meeting so that you can do one final check to make sure you look incredible. 

Now when I'm on a Zoom call, I've got into the habit of just, hiding my video entirely, so there's no temptation whatsoever. Give it a try guys, it's actually, Freeing. Now the flip side of that, is that it's very easy to forget you are on camera. Don't pick your nose. Or maybe do, I don't know. Up to you. 

Oh, and of course, let's talk audio quickly. Most of us don't have a ton of control over this, but, being in a quiet place typically makes for better audio. 
Also, keep in mind that your headphones might have a better mic than your computer. I have Bose 700 headphones, Galaxy Buds, the ones that came out in 2019, not the plus version, and of course, the mic that's already built into my MacBook Pro. So I use the audio testing tool within Zoom to test all of these mics.

All right friends, stay professional, even when you absolutely have not gotten out of your sweatpants for like, two weeks. Thank you so much for watching, I truly appreciate you, and since you made it this far, I have a bonus tip for you. If you're using Zoom, and you're muted, you can hold down the spacebar to temporarily unmute yourself, and it makes you feel like you're using a walkie-talkie, or an intercom system, and I friggin' love it. Anywho, be well, and hopefully, I'll see you in the next one. 

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