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Video calls and virtual meeting tips from a pro

Since 2014, I've been working remotely in some capacity, so it's safe to say I've learned a thing or two about successful video calls and meetings.

In the last few weeks, however, companies such as WebEx and Zoom have experienced a record increase in usage, as many people and businesses go virtual due to COVID-19.

The thing with this type of communication, however, is this: we're going to get a lot of things wrong with it before we get a lot of things right. The same can be said for social media. Both, in the course of human history, are new forms of communication, so there's a learning curve to be expected.

Here are my tips for getting it right (from someone who's gotten it wrong more than once):

1. Don't judge someone if they roll out of bed to hop on a video call. The unofficial theme of the pandemic is "lower the bar."⠀

2. Don't judge someone who gets all dolled up because it makes them feel a sense of normalcy. Say it with me: if you look good, you feel good. ⠀

3. The mute button is your best friend. And yes, there's always that ONE PERSON that doesn't realize they're not on mute. Don't be that person. ⠀

4. Have the light source behind your laptop, if possible, not behind you. If you want to look your best on a video call, it's critically important to think like a Kardashian and consider good lighting. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. ⠀

5. Sitting against a wall reduces the chances of people walking behind you in their underwear. Again, there's always that one person. The good news is that something like this only has to happen once before you learn your lesson. ⠀

6. Stack books underneath your laptop so that the camera is at eye level. Text neck is real, and it's horrible. ⠀

7. Saying, "that's weird, my camera isn't working," works every time. For some reason, my Slack disconnects from my laptop camera all the time, but if I'm ever having one of those days where I look or feel "off", I can always use this as an excuse. ⠀

8. No, we don't always have to hop on a quick call. There are some meetings that can still be emails.

9. Video calls can be mentally DRAINING and will strain your eyes. Don't do too many of them in one day. Don't schedule them back-to-back, if possible. Give yourself (mostly your eyes) some breathing room.⠀

10. Eating and drinking are like reclining seats on a plane: we ALL do it, or NO ONE does it. At least, that's my philosophy. Mouth noises are amplified. ⠀

And above all else: STOP apologizing because kids, spouses, and pets interrupt occasionally. It's honestly refreshing to remember the people you're working with are still human.

Screen or no screen, remember: we're all people. People are new to this sort of thing. Eventually, we'll figure it all out, but until then (and above all else!), ask your kids what you should do.

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