Be Mindful of Your Background
Piles of laundry or personal photos may be fine when you’re having a video chat with friends, but for professional interactions, you need to curate a more polished background. I have been on calls where I see clothes hanging in the background or closet doors open. Treat your background as you would your work space in your office. Take some time to consider where you will be making calls from, and do a test run in advance to make sure nothing unexpected is creeping into the frame. Can’t find an appropriate space in your home? Many programs, including Zoom, allow you to use a picture as a virtual background.
Keep Your Information Private
If you’ll be sharing your screen at any point, take care that your personal computer activity isn’t on display for all to see. Have your slidedeck open in the background and ready to be uploaded to share. Whenever possible, share the specific application that you want your audience to see (e.g., a PowerPoint presentation or Word document) rather than sharing your full desktop. If you are sharing an internet browser, be sure to close all unnecessary tabs beforehand. You should also be aware that if you search in the address bar of your browser, auto-complete may reveal previous searches to your audience. To avoid this, clear your history, or navigate to sites before sharing your screen.
Family members or pets can be a major distraction if they wander into your frame while you’re speaking. If you can, make your call from a room with a closed door, and put a sign outside beforehand reminding people that you will be on a call at a certain time. If you’re unable to isolate yourself, try to make calls with your back to a wall so that no one needs to walk behind you as they cross the room. If you have a furry friend who just can’t resist cuddling you while you work, put them in a closed room or distract them with a toy or long-lasting treat before you begin. Of course, working from home has it’s challenges and consider the audience on the call. Many won’t mind the occasional child or the pet – but many will mind the pet barking.
The virtual platform is here to stay. We will be continuing to conduce business in the new “hybrid era.” Be sure you move forward professionally in this new chapter.