Whether you like it or not, webcams are becoming a part of our everyday lives. We are involved in video conferencing, Skype chats and virtual learning workshops more and more. It is tempting to shy away from using our webcams and just rely on audio, but the benefits of using your webcam well far outweigh the discomfort of ‘being on camera’.
The more you use your webcam, the more relaxed you will become with it. So, get friendly with your webcam and get used to being the star of your own show! Here are some tips to help you out. (By the way, these tips have all been generated from lessons I have learned from getting it right/wrong myself!)
1. Location, Location, Location
If you are using a webcam that is not integral to your screen - i.e. one that sits on top of your laptop or PC then you have the luxury of positioning it in a location that works best for you. Where on the screen are you likely to spend most of your time looking? When running virtual training workshops, I spend most of my time looking at the list of names and faces on the top right hand corner of my screen. So that is where I position my webcam. It makes it easier to switch my view from webcam to names without it being obvious.
Also, if you are using a laptop then this often means you are looking down at the camera. Firstly, this is not the most flattering look for you (think double-chins), and secondly, it is not too comfortable. Try lifting your laptop up higher (even on to a pile of books) and you will be able to sit taller and look directly into the camera. It makes a real difference - try it and you will see.
2. Take a lesson from TV presenters
TV presenters talk to us through the camera. They look directly at us and in return we look directly back at them. We have eye contact. If somebody is talking to us but not looking at us then we engage much less. So even though it might feel a little strange at first, when you are talking, look directly at the camera. This will soon become familiar and the norm. I even find myself talking to the camera even when it is switched off!
3. Background Check
What is behind you? What can your audience see on the wall or shelf behind you? And - what does this say about you? I was delivering a virtual session recently where one of the participants was working from home. They were having work done by builders and the only quiet room in the house was his daughter’s bedroom. The Disney Princess wallpaper behind him did little to boost his street cred. On this occasion, it was funny and created an opportunity for his colleagues to playfully rib him throughout the session.
So, what is best? A bookcase showing your intellectual reading habits? Motivational posters? Photos of you with your team? Some say just a plain white wall is the safest option. I say it depends on who you are communicating with and how much of yourself you want to display.
4. Do Not Disturb
I am sure many of you have seen the hilarious clip of Professor Robert Kelly being gatecrashed by his kids whilst conducting a serious interview on the BBC. https://youtu.be/kQUcDxC5FN0
I have been gatecrashed by my cats, an electrician, giant wasps and most recently my husband wandering in to the office in his undershorts asking if I had seen his socks… (thankfully I had just turned the webcam off!!). Find a system that works for you - either a locked door or ‘do not disturb’ sign.
5. Get Professional
Take some time getting things right. Check your lighting, make sure you are well lit all around with no shadows under your nose (not a good look). Also, test your audio out beforehand. Although most webcams have built in microphones, they are often not good enough. Do a sound check before your virtual meeting to ensure your volumes are set right and the mic you want to use is switched on and working.
Once you have done all of this then it is down to you to sit up straight, smile and.. lights, camera and action!!!
We love designing and delivering interactive virtual training and we want to work with you to make your venture into the virtual world straight forward and enjoyable in a way that delivers the results you want to achieve.