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5 Ways to Command a Presence on Video Conferences

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Man speaking from video screen to a team of office workers

Even as video conferencing becomes a staple of workplace meetings, it’s also presenting new challenges for effective business communications. For instance, some people may be reluctant to appear on camera because it forces them out of their comfort zone.

But there are other issues as well. A poorly managed video conference may hinder progress on projects as the potential for interruptions multiplies quickly as the number of locations joining the conference increases. In addition, the conversation can be easily derailed by action happening in the background of any participant, such as the comings and goings of coffee shop patrons.

With all of these dynamics at play, an individual’s reputation could suffer if they consistently deliver a poor performance on video. Speakers who fail to demonstrate confidence can limit their ability to influence other team members or even maintain control of the call. And if they don’t master delivering video presentations, they could see their opportunities for professional advancement diminish as well.

Fortunately, with a little bit of thought, effort and practice, you can cultivate a commanding presence on video. Follow these five steps to greater confidence during your video conferences:

1.  Pay Attention to Your Environment

The first step to making a great impression on camera is to eliminate background noise. Start by creating a dedicated space for your video conference, ideally in a room where you can close the door. If you’re in a noisy place, be sure to mute the call whenever you’re not speaking. Then, de-clutter your background to remove potential distractions. Situating yourself in front of a blank wall often works well. Don’t forget to tell colleagues and family to avoid interrupting you during your conference.

Before the call, settle yourself in front of the camera and run a few tests. Looking down into the camera is often unflattering, so be sure to put your camera closer to eye level. Proper lighting also makes a big difference. Set up a soft, diffused light, such as a window with sheer curtains or a lamp placed nearby. Avoid placing yourself directly under harsh fluorescent ceiling lights, which tend to create shadows and lines on your face.

2.  Dress Professionally

Whether you hold your video conference at home or in the office, be sure to dress the part. If you’re meeting with clients, dress as you would if you were meeting them in person – even if that means business attire. For internal team meetings, attire should reflect what you would wear in the office regardless of your location. Either way, your clothes should set a professional tone, which will give greater weight to your words.

Since colors tend to wash out on screen, wear bright solids. They’re less distracting than patterns and look better on camera.

3.  Exude Confidence

Confidence is communicated through both body language and eye contact. It may be difficult during long conference calls, but be especially conscious of fidgeting. Frequent movement can be distracting to other participants, even if you aren’t the presenter. Focus on staying still and sitting up straight.

Eye contact can be even harder. On video conferences, we tend to look at the other attendees while we talk and sometimes even the window showing ourselves. But this can be disconcerting for them because it sets your gaze below the camera giving the impression that you’re looking down and away. Instead, look directly into the camera whenever you speak.

4.  Be Considerate

On audio calls, multitasking is common and can be a problem. After all, others can’t see what you’re doing. While video conferences discourage such behavior, other activities can still be tempting. Remember that the rules of business etiquette still apply, even more so in a virtual environment. Don’t break out your lunch for everyone to see, and don’t hold side conversations. Treat virtual attendees with as much courtesy as in-person participants.

Additionally, if you’re leading a call with participants who don’t know each other it is a good idea to follow common meeting best practices, such as introducing everyone before the discussion gets started.

5.  Stick to an Agenda

As with any meeting, it’s important to plan effectively. Create an agenda and stick to it. Whether you use a simple bulleted list or an agenda timer, track your progress and keep the conversation on topic.

For those new to video conferences, these practices will smooth the edges of being on camera, and before long, it will feel natural and routine.

Beyond video conferencing, ShoreTel offers a number of collaboration tools designed to make teams more productive. Learn more about ShoreTel’s collaboration solutions.

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