Since the advent of COVID-19 people around the world are shifting from workplaces into home office environments. With this has come a massive uptick in video conferencing to allow people to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues and clients despite working from home. However one issue many have grappled with is, how do I make my home office look professional over a video call.
Whether you're in a share-house or a penthouse there are some simple steps that you can take to up your professionalism and put your best foot forward when working from home.
Proper lighting is perhaps the most crucial element to make yourself look professional when video conferencing from home. Correct lighting ensures you can be seen clearly and will also improve the quality of your video feed to other meeting participants. If you want your input into a meeting to carry weight, make sure it’s not coming from a low visibility, low quality video feed.
So what’s the best way to improve the lighting in your home office environment?
Open the window shades and let some natural light into the room if possible. As long as the window is not facing directly into your webcam this will provide a natural, even lighting.
DON'T put a light source such as a lamp behind your webcam and body, this will create a silhouette around your body and make your face dark.
DO put a light source in front of your webcam and body so that it is illuminating your face. This doesn’t have to be a spotlight, just a simple lamp a couple metres away will do the trick.
Think about your background
When you don’t have the ability to meet in person, your home office environment is going to provide subconscious cues to other meeting participants when video conferencing. A messy desk with a pile of dirty washing behind you might send the wrong message about your organisational skills to a potential client.
This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a full collection of Encyclopedia Britannica to place neatly behind your desk but it does mean you might want to avoid clutter. Consider which way you are angling your webcam to have a clean work environment behind you and push that hamper of dirty laundry out of frame. Consider adding something uncomplicated to your background, perhaps a simple piece of artwork or a pot plant to provide some character.
Whether it's kids, roommates or a partner, you don’t want someone interrupting your work meeting, it can be distracting for you but also anyone else in the meeting. The best way to avoid this is to find a private place to set up your home office, this could be your bedroom, an office or any quiet room. Avoid having doors and hallways in your background if possible as these increase the likelihood of an unexpected visitor being visible.
However this is not always possible so for those people consider investing in earphones or headphones with a high-quality in built microphone. Not only will this greatly improve the quality of your audio feed to others in the meeting but it will also reduce background noise by moving the microphone closer to your mouth.
Upgrade your audio
Your audio quality is just as important as your video quality if you want your opinion to be heard and listened to.Your computer's inbuilt microphone will do fine in a quiet room however if you are video conferencing from a busy house or sharing a workspace it will be worth your while investing in earphones or headphones with an in-built microphone. This will improve your audio quality, as well as reducing the amount of background noise coming from your feed.
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