In the age of COVID-19, we’ve all had to adjust to a new way of meeting up. But just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to be alone! Video calling has given us a window into our new virtual office. But before you join your meeting, make sure you check out these tips on getting ready for your close-up.

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Choose your platform

While your workplace may prescribe a solution like Microsoft Teams, catching up with your friends or family may require you to use a different platform.

If you already have a group chat in action, it’s fastest to check if it supports a video call function that everyone can participate in. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, for example, both have video calling options. Apple iMessage users, meanwhile can jump on a Group FaceTime call from their devices without having to download a new app.

If the group lacks an app they all share, jumping on a new platform like Houseparty or Skype might be worth a look.

Follow the tips below to make sure any call you make with your friends, family or work looks and sounds great!

Test your internet connection

Finding the right place in your home with a stable and strong connection is key to having a good catch-up with audio and video.

Follow our tips on how to get the best performance out of your home Wi-Fi network to make sure you’re set up for connectivity success.

Ensuring your internet plan can also carry a high-definition video meeting is also important. Check your internet speed first and ensure you have at least 1.5Mbps upload and download so as to send and receive video and audio. If your speed is lower than expected, check that other devices on your network (such as laptops and gaming consoles) aren’t downloading updates or other content.

Figure out your sound

Ensuring others on the call can hear you is almost more important than making sure they can see you. That’s why having a microphone that works is super-important.

You can test your levels in the Sound settings of your device to see how loud or soft you are. It’s important to test it ahead of time so you can make sure your colleagues can hear you before you jump onto a call as a mute.

If you’ve got a smartphone, it’s a fair bet you’ve got a back-up microphone wrapped up in the box sitting in your drawer. Those smartphone headphones might not be comfortable, but 99% of the time they have a built-in mic for your meeting needs if all else fails!

Finally, make sure your microphone is muted both when you join and when you aren’t speaking. That way, everyone can hear the person talking instead of ambient noises around your home.

Look at your background

When on a video call, your camera is going to pick up not just your beaming face, but also everything in the frame behind you. Try and sit with your back to a blank background. If this isn’t possible, make sure you at least clean-up!

The easiest way to check your background is to place your laptop where it’s going to be situated for the meeting and open its camera app to see how you look. For Windows users, Camera is best. Mac users, meanwhile, can use Photo Booth or FaceTime to check themselves out.

Check your lighting

Lighting can make the difference between hosting a call in a dungeon and a studio.

Scan your surroundings for the strongest light source and ensure that it’s placed in front of you, rather than behind. Placing light source behind you will wash out the image and make you look like a dark silhouette on camera.

Instead, simply putting a light source behind your computer (such as a lamp or a window) can make a world of difference to your frame. White or “cooler” light translates well on video, while more yellow “warm” light can make you look a little tinted.

If you really want your lighting to pop, designer Tom Ford recommends putting a blank piece of white paper on the table in front of your laptop as a way to give you “fill and bounce”.

Get ready for your close-up

Good camera positioning is also key to a good meeting. You want to make sure you’re visible in the frame and not sitting too far away.

The camera should be elevated so your eye-line sits perpendicular to the camera. Put it too high or low and you risk getting a weird angle that flatters nobody! Try using a laptop stand or even just a stack of books to achieve the appropriate height.

Getting a dedicated camera – rather than using your laptop’s built-in camera – is a great way to improve your overall image quality. Built-in cameras are often lower resolution than their dedicated counterparts, and separating the camera from the laptop means you’ll be able to place both in a space that makes sense for your workflow.

Don’t get distracted

It’s important to use your selfie camera to figure out how your frame looks, but keeping your selfie camera open during a meeting is a great way to get distracted. It’s easy to fall into the trap of staring at yourself for the whole meeting and not paying attention to your colleagues.

The best way to keep yourself focussed on the conversation at hand is to turn off your selfie-view once you’re sure you’re looking good in the space so you can give your full attention to the presenter!

Make sure you aren’t picking up your phone mid-meeting to check out social media or shop online. You’re in a meeting, remember! Also, when you’re front-and-centre on camera, your colleagues can tell your attention is elsewhere.

Instead of picking up your phone or tabbing into a different window, use the time allocated to focus on what the presenter is saying and to collaborate with your colleagues effectively. To set yourself up for videoconferencing success, ensure you still follow an agenda; ensure you prepare; take notes, and respond when it’s your turn rather than talking over someone.

Have a great chat!