Managing a Successful Video Conference & Creating a Good Impression
By: Ivan Bartolome
In this COVID-19 environment, all of us are spending many more of our meeting hours connecting with people from home and online. There are many popular software choices for online meetings, and some include: Skype, Webex, Go ToMeeting, and the newly emerging Zoom. All are relatively user friendly and easy to access.
At HealthSearch Partners we are regularly online with candidate interviews and client and search committee meetings. Healthcare executive search has definitely gone virtual during the pandemic. In some ways, this is a very good thing. Face-to-face meetings, although reliable and comfortable, are time consuming, costly and often challenging to schedule. It is so easy to book a quick Zoom interview and get to know a candidate better; and Search Committee meetings are also simpler and effortless to schedule. However, the challenge with online meetings can be ensuring that you come across with the best impression possible. First impressions are lasting impressions, and they can make or break your search.
Here are some suggestions for making your next online video conference a successful one:
- Make sure that your hardware device is compatible with online software that you are using. Be sure to test it before your conference. Operate your device from a steady base. Avoid holding the device in your moving hand.
- Confirm that you will have access to a stable, high-speed internet connection. Slow or unreliable networks, including cellular data, may disrupt audio and video quality and make communication difficult.
- Avoid connecting in busy and noisy locations. Instead, choose a quiet place for your conference with minimal distractions. Take steps to prevent interruptions from family and pets if conducting the meeting from home.
- Set up a meeting location with a professional and uncluttered background. The area will need to be well-lit with adequate and soft front lighting to illuminate your face properly. Avoid harsh directional lighting and especially backlighting from windows or other light sources behind you.
- Raise your camera angle to be at or near eye-level rather than pointing upwards and center your eyes in the top third of the frame. Ensure that you are the focal point by positioning yourself near enough to the camera that your features are in focus, but far enough away that your shoulders and the top of your head remain just below the top of the frame. Avoid leaning too far back which can give the appearance of informality or disengagement. In fact, occasionally lean into the camera when you talk.
- Eye contact is a bit of a challenge, but it helps to look directly into the camera on the top of your pc or the center of your iPad when you speak. Learn to use peripheral vision to observe the others while you are talking. When listening to others, use your eyes to show that you are searching or listening. Try to avoid a passive stare.
- Dress for online video conferences as you would if the meeting were occurring in person, including appropriate business attire and a polished appearance for formal meetings and interviews. Most people seem to be business casual these days.
- Use proper etiquette. In situations in which you are not regularly speaking, keep your audio line muted. This will minimize background noise and interruptions in the conference audio. If you need to ask a question while another participant is speaking, raise a hand to provide a visual cue that you need to interject. Also, try not to move around a lot. It can be distracting.
- Be sure to sign on a couple of minutes early for your scheduled call. You’ll likely be placed in a virtual waiting room, but this gives you the opportunity to make sure that your own framing and lighting are good.
- If you are chairing or hosting a group meeting, let participants know that the chair will recognize them before speaking to avoid everyone talking at once.
- When hosting online board meetings, it’s important to start and close the meeting with the agenda or plan for the meeting. To open the call, ask everyone to say hello and introduce themselves. It’s a good way to get people focused and comfortable with the technology. At the end, ask everyone for a closing thought. If you are interviewing a candidate, be sure to invite them to ask some final questions.
So, do your best to look good on video conferences! The person on the other end is likely taking actual or mental notes of you. Create the best impression possible and in the process, make your message more compelling to others.