Smile, you’re on camera! Video conference dos and don’ts

video-conferenceHave you ever had a conversation with someone on the phone and wondered about the meaning of their words? If so, it’s possible the lack of body language made the conversation difficult to interpret. According to research conducted by Professor Albert Mehrabian, when we communicate feelings and attitudes, 7% of the meaning is contained in the words we use. 38% of the meaning comes from the way words are used – tone, volume, speed, etc. And facial expressions convey 55% of the meaning. Therefore, a conference call or phone meeting can lead to some miscommunication due to the lack of body language. Because of this and other reasons, many companies are converting to video conferencing technology for meetings to increase understanding, reduce travel expenses and increase productivity.

However, many people lack confidence and understanding of how to best use and present themselves in video conferencing meetings. Whether you’re a solopreneur working in a home office or a large company with regular meetings, following these tips will make your video conference meetings much more successful and productive.

Know your equipment

Be sure to practice using the video conferencing tools and apps before your meeting.  Adjust your volume and ensure you’re not muted. The camera should be positioned to fully capture your head and shoulders if you’re sitting down or your waist up if you’re presenting while standing. The camera should be at eye level and on the monitor you’re viewing. Consider calling a colleague before the meeting to test the sound and camera angle.

If you’re using visuals in your presentation, practice transitioning from being on camera to showing your slides or desktop.

Consider your background

Be careful of what viewers see behind you. Avoid a messy bookcase or a cluttered table or wall. Don’t show political posters or anything controversial or inappropriate. If you’re in a conference room with sensitive information on a white board be sure to either remove it or aim the camera towards a different area of the room. Try to have as plain and neutral of a background as possible. Your company logo would be appropriate as long as it isn’t too big.

Dress appropriately

Even though you might be calling into the meeting from home you still need to be dressed as if you’re at the office.  Pajamas, sweats and t-shirts are not appropriate.  Your clothes should be professional and work-worthy, both top and bottom. You might have to stand up during the call, so nix wearing yoga pants or your broken in jeans. Also be mindful of the colors and patterns you wear. Avoid narrow stripes and busy patterns. Green and yellow are two colors to avoid.

Mind the light

The lighting in the room you are in should light up your face. Typically downlighting (fixtures in or on the ceiling) will create unflattering shadows. Try to have a light that shines on your face from the front or side.  This could be a window. But avoid having the window behind you which will make you difficult to see.

Sit up straight

Think about your posture when you’re in the meeting. If you’re slouching or reclining in your chair you’ll likely communicate that you’re not interested or are bored. Sit or stand with good posture so that you look engaged and interested.

Nix the food and drink

Avoid eating or drinking while in a meeting. This applies to all meetings – in person, conference call or video conference. Save the savory snack and cuppa joe for after the gathering. This is a meeting, not a coffee klatch.

Don’t multi-task

Avoid checking email or looking up the latest sports scores will on the call. You’ll look distracted and not fully present.

Eyes at the camera

When speaking, look at the camera rather than at yourself. You will appear as if you’re looking people in the eyes rather than at something else.

Video conferencing will continue to be employed in more and more companies. Act as if you’re meeting face to face with others and you’ll have much more success.


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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Kaitlyn on October 25, 2016 at 9:09 am

    These are all great tips for video conferencing! They were all informative and spot-on. Good backgrounds are so important; sometimes, backgrounds end up being distracting. Practicing presentations is key.

  2. Arden on October 29, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Agreed Kaitlyn. Many people forget to consider their background.
    Thanks for commenting.

  3. Prasanta Shee on September 5, 2017 at 12:48 am

    Video conferencing has already changed the way people do businesses and by following above mentioned Do`s and Donts one can conduct effective video conferences. Various tools like R-HUB HD video conferencing servers, webex, gomeetnow, gotomeeting etc. can be used to conduct a video conference.

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