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Top 10 Tips For Virtual Calls

April 7, 2020

Personally, I’m not convinced this whole internet thing is going to catch on. It’s probably just a fad, like rock and roll. Another two weeks tops. But on the off chance virtual calls stick around, we might as well figure it out. Life is more fun when you’re good at things and we can get you there quickly. Having trained over 130,000 people as communication coaches, we’ve put together our top video conference tips to be a whiz at virtual calls, presentations and video calls:


By Bill Hoogterp

1. Log on early: Don’t be THAT person who shows up late and says “Um..sorry I’m late everyone! Hey, what’d I miss?” Log on before the virtual calls, hit mute and then go get coffee.

2. Light up the camera with more than your smile: Backlight is good for sci-fi and murder mysteries but not VCs. Get natural light on your face not behind you. If not natural light, get a cheap lamp and shine it on your face where the lamp doesn’t show on camera.

3. Find that lens: Working with ESPN, CNN, NBC, Fox, we teach broadcasters to not look AT the SCREEN. Your eyes are normally drawn to the video of yourself—how incredibly gorgeous you are that day—or the person talking. Broadcasters learn to find that lens. Imagine your audience is inside that lens and speak directly to it. You’ll instantly exude more executive presence.

4. Fill the frame: Adjust the camera angle so it just barely cuts off the very top of your head. Many people slouch or put their heads in the middle of the frame—but then we look like we’re at the little kids table for Thanksgiving. Dominate the screen for more gravitas. It feels weird for a second (some people creep back down) but make yourself stay big for the whole call.

5. Eliminate distractions: You don’t have to have a professional backdrop behind you but the less distractions and clutter, the better.

6. Have a bigger view: Use Gallery view (think Hollywood Squares). You can read the feeling of the room when you see everyone.

7. Use the chat box once per call: You can start the call by saying “ Today’s meeting topic is X, so everyone open the chat box and write a half sentence about what comes to mind when you first hear topic X. Good, bad or ugly, not judging, just want to see what headspace everyone is in.” This works for a few reasons. First, no matter how much your audience may have been distracted, it pulls them into your topic. They want to type something thoughtful since their peers will see it and they can’t resist seeing some of the other responses, all of which gets everyone involved.

8. When you have to step away: Mute AND take yourself off video when munching, stepping away from the computer or talking to a family member in your house. If you are stepping away from the computer for more than a few seconds, write in the chat box that you will be right back so that colleagues know not to call on you.


9. Engage the audience: Body Polls work better than the poll function. “Show me with your fingers from 0-10 how you feel about X.” Or “everyone show me with your thumb what you think about Y.” Body polls give you data, the group gets data, you get a break and you emotionally connect everyone to your topic.

10. Manage your mindset: Having had the honor of coaching so many awesome people, you learn that part of the problem is the way we see the problem. Part of the solution is just how you explore solutions. Be curious and start clicking buttons. Sometimes in life you just need more courage than common sense. When stuck, put your fingers to your temple and make a small adjustment to your mindset. Start poking around all the different tools and settings available to you. I promise you won’t break the internet. Try something 5% different every time you attend a virtual presentation and you’ll gain mastery.

Want to participate in a 90-minute, fun training to practice these tips and get more advanced? Sign up for one of our public event trainings and you’ll be owning the virtual room in no time.

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