BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
“Hey, let’s hop on a Zoom video call, I think it would be better for us to see each other! See you in 10.”
Video calls can instill massive amounts of stress, anxiety, and nervousness – all because it’s a new medium for many of us! As someone who both presents online (a lot!) and currently teaches folks how to present and speak in real life and remotely, there are a handful of things you can immediately start doing to feel better about your remote presentation skills:
DO remember where the camera is
Cameras are like eyeballs. Connect with the camera like you would with a person. Eye contact establishes trust – and without it, what’s the point in communication?
The other side of this concerns your camera angle. You want to frame yourself, so there is a bit of space around your head. Having the camera at eye level is great – I usually stack my computer on books or a box when I’m doing any video chat or meeting. This also gives you the space to move around!
DON’T worry about your child, roommate, spouse, partner, pet…
Normal times? I would say, ‘Hey! Try to find a quiet space!’
These are not normal times.
Do not worry if there is a cry or noise or bark – we are all figuring out this new normal together. You don’t have to apologize for an interruption. This whole situation is an interruption.
DO take notes
If you don’t take notes during in-person meetings, now is a great time to lean into that practice. Set your notes up either in front of your computer or off to the side and refer to them whenever necessary. Take notes of questions and comments you have while others are talking, bring notes into meetings and conversations, refer to your notes as much as you need to – and use them afterward to jot down big takeaways and action items.
DON’T stress about how you look
Yes, you should shower. No, you shouldn’t obsess about wearing a full face of makeup and perfectly framing yourself in a shot. Yes – make sure you’re not cutting off your head! Or just showing your forehead! But too often I see people paying so much attention to how they look they forget to listen to the person talking! Here’s the best advice: be comfortable as the best version of you. If that’s putting on makeup, great. If it’s wearing leisurewear on the bottom and a professional-ish shirt on the top, also great.
DO offer yourself grace
This isn’t normal. I repeat, this isn’t normal. What we’re dealing with right now as a country and society isn’t “business as usual” – if you forget to mute your mic, or unmute your mic – when you’re on a call or meeting, don’t spend the rest of the week beating yourself up about it. It happens, learn from it and next time, click the mute or unmute. Now isn’t the time to stress about a mistake that everyone will do at least once or twice a week during this time.
DON’T forget to listen
Video is difficult because we don’t have body language to fall back on – we’re dealing with facial expressions, tone, cadence, and words – that’s it! You have to pay attention at a much higher level to continue to connect with what the other person – and people! – are trying to get across. This is a great place to utilize your notes. If you’re having trouble listening, you can lean on the copious notes you’re taking. Or, better yet, use the act of note-taking as your “task” to keep you on track.
And above all, you got this.