Tips to Avoid Becoming a Video Conference Hashtag

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An illustration of a video call over the internet. An example where the background is inappropriate.

Over the last 3 months, it’s almost certain you’ve seen one. With video conferencing being part of our “new normal” almost everyone has seen a video or two of someone who became “Insta” or Tik Tok famous for their faux pas on the laptop screen. 

While it may be easy to shake your head in wonder at some of what has taken place over video conferencing, it does make you realise that for many, this new mode of communication does indeed have a steep learning curve. So if you are new to the whole video conferencing game, or if you manage a team that is, here are a few tips to ensure you can avoid becoming a video conference hashtag. 

Familiarise yourself with the video and mute features

This tip may seem like basic common sense, but from the hashtags that have been created thus far and the videos that have circulated across the internet, it bears repeating. I have been on a few calls where I am glad to have had myself muted and have had to close my video window, most recently in order to take care of my sick dog whose timing coincided with a video call I had just begun.

Most, if not all, meeting attendees realise that working from home is not something that everyone had the luxury to plan for, so going temporarily silent and off-screen, if need be, is perfectly acceptable and understood.

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Test your camera angle

Have you ever been on a video conference with someone and for the full hour of the call, you can hear them, but all you can see is the top of their glasses and their forehead?  It happened to me two weeks ago. There are a host of stories people could tell of the unflattering and distracting camera angles that have been seen on video calls. And it should come as no surprise that they are often being discussed via chat among meeting attendees as the person is speaking.  

To get the most from your video calls and to ensure other attendees do as well, ensure you have a good angle from which you are speaking. It can be highly distracting to have that one person or a couple of people who seem as if they have never used a camera before. If need be, do a test run with your computer and do what you can to put the camera at eye level (even if you have to rest your laptop on a few books) so others on the call can truly have a face-to-face meeting. To learn more about looking your best on video calls, read Anna’s comprehensive post full of top tips.

Have the best lighting possible 

The purpose and benefit of a video conference are defeated when you are hardly able to see the person on the other side. Numerous individuals forget the importance of good lighting when it comes to video conferencing. Being able to see one’s face fully is beneficial and if that cannot happen, actually keeping the camera off would be better so it is not a distraction.

Investing in a portable light that can fit behind your computer can vastly improve the quality of a video call. Here is the one that I use in my office for all of my calls and I can assure you that it improves the overall quality of my meetings. 

Be Human

One of the biggest challenges that many have had during this shift to working from home and video conferencing is they do not have an “office” in their home.  This means that meetings may have an occasional child, spouse, or pet in the background. Rather than add additional stress to the current disruption, just accept it. Instead of viewing it as a distraction, choose to see it as one way that business is becoming more human. 

There is rarely anything that is so vitally important that having someone in the background will alter the course of the meeting. All we can do is adapt to it and know that others will most likely do the same.

Only a few months ago, nobody was thinking about writing a video conferencing etiquette guide, yet here we are in a new business norm with some adjusting to what may just be more the rule than the occasion. Do what you can to optimise the video conference experience; it will benefit you and all those who are joining you and adapting themselves. If you are a complete beginner, our comprehensive guide to video conferencing can help you with all the information you need to get started.

Restructuring a nation through technology: How UK businesses are facing a post-pandemic future

Originally published Jul 03, 2020


Carlos Hidalgo is a 25-year business veteran. Over the span of the last two plus decades, Hidalgo has held corporate roles, started his own entrepreneurial ventures and served in non-profits.

In addition to his various roles and business pursuits, Hidalgo is the author of two books Driving Demand, one of the Top 5 Marketing Books of all time according to Book Authority which was published in 2015 and The UnAmerican Dream which was published in 2019.

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