Video Calls and Chats? Set Yourself Up for Success

Have you made a video call – or joined a video chat – lately? Group and one-to-one video calls are keeping many of us connected. These face-centric communications are infusing personality into discussion with friends, family and coworkers. They’re bringing our conversations to life in ways that feel a little more human. And, they’re helping us foster a sense of community with people in our lives while we can’t see them in person.

In case video communications is new for you, these tips can help you set yourself up for success.

Choose good location

If you’ll be joining a video call or group chat for longer than a minute or two, be sure you choose a spot in your home that’s as free of distractions around you as possible. Pay attention to what people will see in your background. Could the plant or lamp behind you look like you’re wearing a funny hat? Can people see a cluttered kitchen over your shoulder? Test it out and set up a spot that won’t take attention away from you and what you’re there to talk about and share.

Stabilize your phone or tablet

If you’re using a webcam on your computer, you probably won’t be holding the computer in your hands. But, if you plan to use your phone or tablet, you’ll want to find a way to steady it for the session instead of holding it. You can use a tripod, an easel or any number of accessories. This will keep your fellow video callers from feeling “seasick” when they see your screen.

Choose a good camera angle

If you’re using a phone or tablet, know whether you need to position it vertically or horizontally before you join the call or chat. And, check how your camera setup frames your head and shoulders. Be sure you’re close enough that others can see your face, but not too close.

If the chat will be streaming over social media, some apps add your name and details in the lower third of the (horizontal) screen. If you’re too close, that graphic will cover part of your face. So, watch out for that. And, avoid positioning your phone or tablet too low. You don’t want fellow chatters looking up your nose (It’s not a good look for anyone).

Adjust the lighting

The room around you may not provide enough light so that others can clearly see your face. Or, it may cast shadows on your face that are distracting. You can improve this with accessories that attach to your phone, tablet or computer or with a light kit. But, you can also bring a lamp nearby and take off the shade.

If you wear glasses, be aware that tiny reflections of the lighting you add may appear on your lenses. You can avoid this in a number of ways (moving the lighting around, purchasing a light kit designed to avoid this, etc.) But, if you want to keep it simple, just be sure any glare you experience doesn’t keep others from seeing your eyes.

Prepare your thoughts

For group chats or calls, whether it’s for business or just for fun, it’s a good idea to think about what you want to share before you go live – especially if you’re leading the call. If you want to be completely spontaneous, that’s your call. But, having a few prepared thoughts can help move the conversation along if things get quiet. And, if you tend to ramble on, it can be a way to keep what you say concise… to give others on the call plenty of time to talk and share too.

Engaging through video adds valuable dimension to our communications with the people in our lives. You can use these tips to support what you bring to the table. But, remember: You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to show up and be you.

This article was written by Amanda L. Ray, an AT&T employee and a TechBuzz contributor. The statements in this article are her own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.

If you’re an AT&T customer, you can find account support information related to COVID–19 here.

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