I love the video phone. I use it at least five days a week (that’s me wearing the monocle below). Recently, a friend of mine had a job interview via video phone which turned into one long awkward experience of not knowing where to look. In personal settings, the video phone has transformed the way we connect with friends and family who live far away; as your moving image translates more meaning than audio could ever hope for. Facial expressions allow you to fully absorb the idiosyncrasies of a person, infusing the conversation with emotion and unsaid truths. The ease of operation, the proliferation of webcams and the decline of video lag issues all equal the rise of real time facial reaction via the digital world.
However, most people cringe at the thought of attending a meeting via video phone. I predict this will dissipate with the upcoming generation; the awkwardness we all feel when our image is transported into a conference room will be a non-issue for those in middle school now. Video allows for a more sincere experience of collaboration and pseudo-physical presence than audio, and I think the video phone’s integration into business is unavoidable. So here are some tips on how to keep anxiety and awkwardness to a minimum in professional video phone encounters:
- Pick a place to look and stick with it. Frame the camera to be as even with your eyes as possible, and move the video window on your screen as close to the camera eye as possible. If you are to be projected on a screen above everyone else, move your camera to point up at you, as if you were actually sitting on the screen, looking down. (see image below)
- Show your best side. Your image size should be that of a headshot; be close enough to the camera for your face to translate but not so close that they can see your pores.
- Text in case of emergency. Always IM the person prior to the meeting starting, so there is a text window present that can be relied on, discretely, if a problem occurs with the video phone. If the video starts to lag, do not panic. Simply send a message, and wait for the video to catch up.
- Jump in. This is the future….now. You have to consciously and actively choose to live in it. Accept the tech; vid phone into the conference, people, vid phone.