Video conference platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been part of our daily lives for more than a year now. We are well versed in using video conferencing for presentations, general discussions and teaching classes remotely – but how effectively are we presenting and communicating?

I recently completed a Linkedin Learning course on Online Presence in Conference Calls. It was an insightful reminder of how small things can have a big impact on your online presence in video calls – especially if you are leading a discussion or trying to engage an audience in a presentation.

Here are some tips to create and improve your online presence.

Know your tool

Again, we are all pretty used to Zoom and Teams by now, but it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re on top of the latest system updates, especially if you are planning to screen share, have slides with audio embedded or use breakout rooms. A quick test with a colleague before the meeting can save you from trying to figure out things during the call. Alternatively, log a ticket to the LX.lab and request a consultation with one of our team.

Prepare your home studio

A good online presence is also impacted by often overlooked things, such as the location of your desk, lighting, your camera position and background. 

Making eye contact

The easiest thing to start with is making sure your camera is at the right level: at eye level. This will also help you adjust your posture so that you’re sitting up straight in your chair. Make sure that you frame yourself in the middle of the screen – your head and the top of your shoulders should dominate the screen.

Also, try to look directly at the camera (instead of the screen) while you’re presenting. This will create an ‘eye contact’ experience for those on the other side of the screen. It’s a great way to increase your presence and engage with your audience, colleagues or students.

Sound & vision

Lighting is also a key element of how you look on camera. Position the camera so you are facing the light, and avoid having the light source behind you. This can be either using a window for natural light, or even a lamp at your desk.

Although audio is often difficult to control when you’re joining a video call from home, prioritising silent spaces as much as possible will ensure crisp and clear audio, and people will understand what you are saying a lot better.

For more suggestions, read Matt Vella’s recent blog on improving your home video set-up.

Use body language

Body language is by far the most underrated aspect of video calls. It’s assumed that body language is not as important as it is when you are face-to-face, but that is simply not true.

Non-verbal communication such as ensuring eye contact, having good posture, and gesturing with your hands matters equally – or even more than before. We often rely on social cues to guide workplace interactions. Even with the limitations of video, you want to keep your audience engaged, send the right impression and maintain a good presence.

Try to move your upper body as you would normally do in an in-person professional context. Sit straight, look at the camera and feel free to use your hands for emphasising points. On the other hand, you should avoid pointing directly at the camera as this might come across as aggressive.

Be present and mindful

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that you are being watched, and even easier to become your own distraction in video calls by checking your emails, the next class or meeting calendar invite, or even your phone. 

Be fully present in an online video call. Avoiding multi-tasking can be a challenge, but it plays a big role in your online presence. It also means there are fewer chances to miss a question or accidentally interrupt someone. 

Get more tips and ideas on staying present and social online in this blog by Alex White.

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