25 Mar 2022 6 tips for better video calls while working at home
In the life of a working mum or dad, flexibility is key. And in the life of a sometimes-work-from-home working mom, technology is the reason I can be flexible. Sometimes my kid gets sick, or I need a plumber to come fix the toilet. I’m lucky to have a job that lets me work remotely in an age where videoconferencing is an acceptable way of staying on track with the day’s meetings.
But videoconferencing isn’t always easy. The kids climb on you, the dog barks, there’s background noise… you get the idea. I’ve had some embarrassing moments and made plenty of mistakes, but I’ve learnt a few things along the way. Here are tips for successful videoconferencing from home.
When you’re on a call, give some thought to what’s around you, such as the backdrop.
Tip 1: Choose the right environment
When I want to talk through a complex issue or brainstorm ideas, video calls are more efficient than chat or email. They also help me get to know teammates in different time zones. But when you’re on a call, give some thought to what’s around you, such as the backdrop. Choose a plain wall, and avoid windows that will provide too much backlight. And if you’re using a laptop, put it somewhere steady. I once did an entire video call with my laptop on my, well, lap, and at the end the other participant told me that the subtle wobbling of the screen was extremely distracting.
Tip 2: Invite anyone, anytime
Videoconferencing doesn’t always have to be scheduled; if you’re in the middle of a too-long email conversation, you can instantly set up a meeting and invite people within or outside of your organisation to join. Hangouts Meet automatically creates international dial-in codes so people can call on the phone from anywhere, and you can invite people via a Google Calendar event, by email, or by phone. Check out our help centre to get started.
Tip 3: Can’t hear? Turn on captions
If you’re in a loud place and don’t have super-fancy headphones, you can use Meet’s live caption feature to display captions in real time (just like closed captions on TV). Start here.
Tip 4: Presenting? Only share what you mean to share
Don’t you love that moment when you’re sharing your screen and then, suddenly, everyone on the call is reading your email? To make sure you only share what you mean to share, present only one window rather than your entire screen. Check it out.
Read all the Think with Google tips
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