Whether it’s over Zoom, Slack or Google Hangouts, video calls are now the normal way to conduct business and chat with friends. While some of us are used to interacting virtually, for others it can be quite the adjustment. Besides trying to figure out if you’re on mute or not, when you actually do have your camera on, you may feel uncomfortable having your home on display. Instead of trying to come up with excuses for why your camera isn’t working, try these tips to help you create a video-call friendly room.
1. Frame the Shot
What you see when you sit down at your desk is not what your colleagues will see on camera. In fact, they’ll see everything you can’t see, the space behind you. When sitting down for a video call, think about what’s going to be in view of the camera. Before your call, open your computer’s camera so you can see what will be in frame during your call. You can do this a couple of minutes before your call starts to make sure everything looks okay. It will also give you an opportunity to see how you will look on camera. Take a minute to frame the shot before you start your call.
2. Background Distractions
Working and living all in the same space is difficult, especially with a full household. If you spend most of the day working at your kitchen table, it might not be the best space to take a call. While your presentation is no-doubt very interesting, your colleagues might be distracted by your household members moving around in the background. If you have the space in your home, you can always move to another location temporarily to take a call. If you can’t move, let your family know you will be on a call and ask them to avoid using that space during your call.
Even if you live alone, your background can still be distracting. Think about what art, furniture or knick knacks will be visible on camera. Do you have an outrageous art print that always sparks discussion at dinner parties? It might not be the best backdrop when on an important call with your manager. Ideally, you want your camera to face a steady backdrop that won’t move or be distracting. While it sounds boring, a blank wall is often your best option for video-calls.
3. Proper Lighting
One benefit of working from home is that we can adjust our space to make us comfortable. While you may enjoy working by candle light, it will be nearly impossible to see your face on camera. When it’s time for a call, turn on a light. Overhead lighting can be harsh and cause shadows, so take this into consideration when framing your shot. If possible to avoid, do not sit in front of a window as the camera will expose the light and make you look like a silhouette. A desk lamp is your best option for proper video-call lighting.
4. Go Virtual
Whether you can’t be bothered to move or don’t want your art on display, you can always go virtual. Many video-call services offer the option to use a virtual background. These backgrounds can be used to completely hide your real space and instead make it look like you’re on the beach, in a luxury condo, or even on the set of your favourite TV show. If you do opt to use a virtual background, just make sure it’s office-appropriate so you’re still video-call friendly.
While video-calls are now the new normal, we aren’t always camera ready. Use these tips to help you set up a space that will be free from distraction so you can focus on your call. If you find you are distracted by the appearance of your home on or off camera, there’s always a solution. Whether you need a fresh coat of paint to spruce up your walls or just a good house cleaning, you can get quotes and connect with pros on HomeStars. By making your home video-call friendly you’ll be prepared the next time someone wants to jump on a call with little to no notice.