By now, many of our lives have moved online, and onto video calls. This week I’ve had work meetings, my nephew’s first birthday party, coffee with a friend and a doctor’s appointment all on video call. To see a group of friendly faces on the screen just makes me smile! So, we are more isolated than ever, and relying on technology to connect us. Here’s how to video call like a pro:
1. BACKGROUND – a clean background is better. I realised I had a giant print of water lilies on the wall in my home office, with nude sun-bathers…not so great as a backdrop for a work conference call!
2. WAIST-UP – we’ve seen all those memes about dressing from the waist up. I say, put on your jeans! I am generally in yoga tights & tracksuit pants, but I get dressed properly for a video call. It’s only one hour and brushing my hair, putting on something I would actually wear to the shops and ‘pulling myself together’ is helpful for the rest of the day. We can’t become so complacent that we forget how to wear pants.
3. DO YOUR FACE – as someone who has worked from home for years, I know the temptation to be all natural. It’s great to give skin a break from foundation, to feel good in your bare skin, but when you look in the mirror a hundred times a day just because you can – you want to see something you like looking back. The same goes for video calls. Washing & moisturising skin. A lick of mascara, a little bronzer or your fav lippy can give you a boost of normality, of your old self who was capable and confident and happening in the world. You want to be focusing on other people’s ideas in a meeting – not how much you wish you’d fixed your hair!
4. ANIMAL FRIENDS – pets are heroes right now. They are keeping many of us company around the world. They are welcome to say hi on a video call, but make sure you keep paying attention to the work meeting / your friend’s news / reading a bed time story to the kid on the other end. My cat recently trotted across my keyboard and accidentally sent nonsense messages to my colleagues on a zoom call. Not ideal.
5. CONVERSATION ETIQUETTE APPLIES – we are all starved for conversation, social outings, debriefs, deep-and-meaningfuls, chats and catchups right now. There’s a pull, as soon as you see those faces on the screen, to unload. It’s been so tough! I miss you! Yes. But everyone feels the same. Especially in group calls, we have to let everyone speak, don’t interrupt, try not to dominate the conversation. It can be tricky to navigate, but by sitting back and listening, we can feel calmer, and even more connected.