Video conferencing is becoming the new normal across the U.S. as more and more people begin to work remotely.

As simple as it used to be for us to walk into a conference room, sit down and have a face-to-face meeting, a lot more effort goes into hosting one from your home office, especially if it’s a makeshift workspace you set up due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But with the right preparation, look and presence, you can become a video meeting expert in no time.

1. Pick the right software

There’s a lot of video conferencing software out there, and each one takes its own approach to virtual meetings. You want to find an option that has a good reputation for working, fits your needs and is user-friendly.

Take into consideration the most tech-savvy member of your team, as well as the ones who struggle with simple applications when making a selection. Some of the most popular video conferencing software, according to G2, includes:

2. Have the right equipment

Besides picking the right video conferencing software, you’ll want to get some extra equipment. Your computer should include a usable camera and microphone, but you’ll also want a good set of earbuds to drown out background noise and distortion.

It’s also good to have an extra way to take notes during your meeting. Typing on the same computer where you’re hosting your meeting can get complicated, and takes you away from the conference screen. Keep a tablet handy if you have an extra device or go old-school with a pad of paper and pen to take meeting notes.

3. Test everything

Before hosting your first virtual meeting, make sure everything works. From a dry-run with your conference software to testing your equipment, ensure everything is ready to go when your meeting rolls around. “Avoid the embarrassment of delays and technical glitches by testing the connectivity of all sites before the meeting,” says Faith Thomas from Inc.

Too often, the start of a video conference gets delayed as you mess with stuff on your end that’s not working. Sometimes it happens while you’re on camera. Other times you leave attendees waiting around for your software to come online. Either way, these delays will make you seem less professional, so try to avoid them.

4. Dress to impress

It’s become a common joke that working from home means never having to get out of your PJs. That’s not the case if you’re video conferencing. At least on top, your wardrobe should include clothing you’d wear on a normal day to the office. You should also style your hair like you’re leaving your home and put on makeup if that’s part of your routine. This all helps give your video meeting a more professional feel even though everyone is sitting around at home.

When deciding what to wear, solid colors work best. You should also do a quick mirror check before logging into your meeting. Make sure there’s no food in your teeth and nothing on your face. Keep your meeting room a good temperature, so you won’t have to fiddle with adding or removing layers while talking.

5. Get the best picture

Lighting conditions can seriously impact video quality during a virtual meeting. Make sure you have enough light in the room so your image isn’t grainy, and commit to one type of lighting, natural or artificial. If using natural light, don’t sit with windows behind you. This position increases glare and can make you hard to see. Lighting coming in from the sides will make you look best, according to Meredith Hart from OWL Labs.

Frame the camera in a way that feels natural, like how people would look at you face-to-face. Position your computer so you can easily look at the camera and keep it close enough to give a headshot view.

Opt for a simple background with a light-colored wall. White works great since light bounces off and helps to brighten up the space. Keep your personal space off camera. Your co-workers don’t want to see your laundry or dirty dishes.

6. Keep it professional

When you’re not the only one at home, keeping it professional during a virtual meeting can be a challenge. Avoid interruptions or people walking past your shot if possible. Post a “Do Not Disturb, Quiet Please” sign if you have a door to close. Have a quick conversation with your family, partner or roommate if you’re hosting a meeting in an open area.

Treat each video conference like you’re connecting with attendees in person. A video call is no excuse to divide your attention. Show respect to whoever is speaking by maintaining eye contact. While you’re speaking to the group, try to look at the camera rather than your screen. It helps listeners feel like you’re looking at them directly.

Don’t forget to use the mute feature to keep out all background noise. Tell attendees you’re muting everyone who’s not talking to keep things quiet, and if they want to speak up they can unmute themselves or raise their hand. You’ll need to make sure your home is especially quiet as the host. When you’re listening, mute yourself.

It’s not so different

Using these tips to successfully host a video meeting from your home will help ensure you maintain a professional and collaborative space for remote work. Treat your virtual meeting like you’re all sitting in the same conference room, and you should have no problem earning the reputation as a virtual meeting aficionado.

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