Before I joined Valiant, I was acting and auditioning. That experience has been very helpful as we all move to work remotely. Actors can actually teach us a lot about best practices for video communications. Actors must send video auditions, or audition over video chat, as it is an important skill set to cultivate. While most of us aren’t trying to get a role or book the next big thing, we are trying to maintain a sense of professionalism in the remote workplace with our colleagues. We all want to put our best foot forward when communicating over video. Here’s a list of best practices that work for me:
Keep your background as neutral as you can. It can be difficult in the New York City apartment but take some time to test different backgrounds in your apartment. Eliminating distractions lets your audience focus on you.
Keep Your Face Visible
This is a simple one, but it makes all the difference. Keep your hair out of your face, so that your eyes are always visible to those listening to you. If your face gets obscured, so can your message.
Practice speaking clearly. Context clues can get lost over a video, so a little extra enunciation goes a long way. Trill your lips or do a simple tongue twister. Run “She sells seashells by the seashore” a few times before you present.
Light Yourself Well
This can be one of the most frustrating components of working from home. Finding the proper lighting is a headache, and while ideally, it would be natural light on your face, the layout of a room or apartment might not lend itself to that. Sun lamps on a low setting, or a bright lamp behind your computer can be a simple fix. Again, like the neutral background tip, take a little time to experiment and figure out what “puts you in the best light.”
Smile with Your Greeting
They say you can tell if someone is smiling while talking on the phone. A smile on a video chat is a very simple and very powerful act of kindness. Try not to lose the power of this very important social cue during these very strange times.
Look Your Best (or just how you’d show up to the office)
It can be tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. There are plenty of articles about the benefits of getting dressed for work even when you’re working from home. But when it comes to your meetings over video chat, looking good and well-groomed can elevate your confidence. Do whatever you need to make yourself feel that extra boost and it will translate to those you’re talking to.
Without the ability to see one another in person, our video chats and meetings have become the default alternative. It’s important to practice these skills so we can stay connected, productive, and sane. When it comes down to it, these tips help you communicate respect and engagement. Present yourself to your best advantage, even within the confines of your home. You may not get the “part”, but you’ll be showing up for your company and your colleagues.