As the COVID-19 outbreak continues and a significant proportion of the global population are living in lockdown and working from home, there has been a surge in video conferencing app downloads.  

On April 3rd,2020, Computer World reported: “The demand for video conferencing apps had surged with enterprise-focused mobile app downloads reaching 62 million during the week March 14-21 – the highest number ever seen.  That figure was up 45% from the week before and up 90% from the pre-COVID-19 weekly download average. Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts Meet both jumped in the rankings, with Zoom Cloud Meetings the undisputed winner”.

Clearly, for many this is a whole new way of working and a significant adjustment for some who may have shunned video calling in the past.  Suddenly having to present, show your face or interact on screen from your kitchen table or study is not everyone’s happy place.

We invited Alex Vernon, Founder and Owner, TikiHut Video Productions to give us his five top tips for successful video calling…

1. Minimise interruptions

Try and make anyone that you live with aware that you are about to make a video call so they can try and keep any noise to a minimum and avoid walking into your room/office. If possible, lock the door and leave a Post-it note saying ‘I am on a video call’.  Have a small toy or simple activity to hand if a small person does appear at your side. Be sure to give yourself five minutes before the time of the call to log in and check everything is working.

2. Limit distracting noises/sights

Turn off any radios, televisions etc. It is better to leave your phone off or switched to silent and no vibration. Try to avoid anything that might be visually distracting to the other parties; the less clutter behind you the better.  Be mindful of what books or objects are on display – they say a lot about you. Some video calling platforms allow you to add a background and so this can be an easy way to hide a multitude of sins when working from home and allow you to express your personality.

3. Frame your shot

If you can, try and frame the shot so that you don’t have too much dead space or the ceiling above you and check you are in the middle of your screen.  Anything that might distract or irritate the other parties can take them out of the flow of the conversation and the moment.

4. Be well lit

Try and make sure you have enough light around your face – this is the main thing people will be looking at. But avoid too harsh or bright lighting as you’ll be squinting throughout the talk. Ideally you want a nicely framed shot and clear audio, it is still important to be comfortable and as relaxed as possible.

5. Aim for best sound quality

Headphones with an inbuilt mic reduce background noise.  Noise reduction can be achieved by listening through headphones rather than speakers.   The best option is a dedicated mic and sound card.  

Alex Vernon commented: “I still sometimes find it hard being completely relaxed when I’m on a video call compared to talking in person, but like anything, the more you do it, the more you get used to it. Try and be as relaxed as possible and be yourself! It is always a good idea to remind yourself that this is a conversation, it’s a two-way thing. Ask questions, even if it’s not necessarily work related, just as you might do in person as this can help with people opening up and being themselves a bit more before delving into the business of the call. Finally beware of private chat functions just in case you inadvertently share something with everyone…!”

Brighton based, Alex helps business owners and charities tell their story through personalised and strategic videos to help build trust and engagement.

He has over 10 years of experience in the industry and has worked on a wide range of productions, from a BAFTA award-winning documentary to major feature films and high-end promotional and corporate work, to his own, self-funded, feature film.