We are now a solid three months into the pandemic of 2020 and have achieved a new normish. As best we can tell, things will never go back to normal and life will never be the same. That norm is much more distributed and virtual. People will use office space differently. Courts are and will continue to operate much more virtually, increasing access to justice and reducing costs to clients based on travel for hearings.
As lawyers, our business models have needed to adjust to a distributed work force where we minimize contact with our clients and coworkers. We are doing more video calls and video appearances than ever before. Video is undeniably more effective than voice alone and the ability to screen share and chat with whomever you are meeting with makes Zoom, GoToMeeting, and other platforms very popular for meetings with your team members, clients, and court hearings. Many people fall into the trap of acting less formal and less professional on video. We simply can’t afford to have our productivity or professionalism suffer due to the pandemic or for any other reason.
The good news is that our distributed work force can be just as productive and effective as our pre-pandemic workforce with the right systems and processes. While video is just one piece to that remote/distributed format, it’s a major piece we should all be tackling.
Here are some rules and tips to make the most of the video software.
- Silence your notifications. Minimize interruptions from texts, slack, or upcoming calendar invites.
- Make sure the camera angle is straight on. You will likely need to prop up your computer or phone to avoid a lovely view of your double chin or up your nostrils. You can use books or any other flat platform to raise your device to eye level.
- Look into the camera, not the screen. You want your conversation to be as real as possible, so make eye contact with the camera, and avoid watching yourself or getting distracted by other screens, phones, emails, etc.
- Lighting is critical to looking good on camera. Either position your computer across from a window or invest $30 in a ring light for your desk. Lighting makes a massive difference, so take some time to play with the settings and warmth to find what works best for you.
- Zoom has a setting to “touch up your appearance” and it’s amazing! Get an immediate facelift + airbrush with this under preferences in the video section.
- Check your background. Whether you are working from home or the office, check your background to make sure it is tidy and professional. This may take some thought and investment, but it’s worth it! If you don’t have the ability to get your background set up as you would like, use a virtual background. You can find some great ones for free on Canva, or make your own and simply upload to Zoom.
- Be just as formal in your speech, appearance, and word choice as you would be in your office. That means the way you dress, your hair, makeup, and word choices should communicate the message and brand you want. Colors really brighten a video call, so consider wearing color or having color in your background.
- Get a good microphone. You can use air pods, or another mic to make sure your sound is crisp and clear.
- Use the screen share to collaborate on documents, go over fee agreements, or prepare for trial/settlement conferences. Have whatever visuals you need prepped and ready to go before your conference.
- If you are having a company meeting or a meeting where many people are present, there are a few additional rules to make the most out of the meetings:
- Mute yourself when you are not talking. This will save bandwidth and reduce background noise.
- Keep your video on and stay focused on whoever is speaking when possible. The exception is if you need to move. If you need to move or you are eating, by all means, kill the video temporarily.
- Have a microphone available to pass around a conference table so that those who are participating remote can actually hear everything that those at the table can hear.
- Minimize interruptions.
- Consider a wide view camera that will capture everyone in office for everyone at home or remote.