The Importance of Staying Connected in a Socially Distant World
In my wildest dreams, I’d never thought I’d ever be in the situation I am now – neither at home, nor at “work”.
Prior to this year, I refused to even consider using a web cam to communicate with clients – a total introvert, I am, indeed.
Then the world changed. And I had to change with it.
Oh, no! Clients are going to be able to see me while we talk?
Haley Marketing has clients all over the country – rarely had I ever actually spoken face to face with a client, until now. It’s funny how many facial expressions one person can make in the course of a phone call. When you’re zooming away, and staring at your own face uttering every word, it is pretty obvious.
Facial reactions can be good, though, because it allows us to get past the perceived tone in a voice, or the assumptions we make when we can’t read body language. How many times have you read yourself an email from someone in your head and had it trigger a negative reaction? Don’t get me wrong – sometimes there is a tone to an email – but assuming a specific tone can cause all kinds of grief – sometimes even ruin your day.
My office is a mess!
And another important issue when video chatting – People can actually SEE what my office looks like? And this was all just reinforced by the Twitter account I saw in the news a while back – someone is out there rating people’s online video backgrounds based on several “important” criteria. After about 3 hours lost in that online rabbit hole, I learned that lighting is crucial and camera height can make or break your online persona. It’s important to balance the items you choose to be visible in your background; book walls and plants go over really well; pets in the background get special credit – and the account owners love pillows and decorative pineapples. Who knew?
I haven’t worked out of my office at work more than about 2 days since February, so the majority of my calls have been from my home office. I share my office with my 5th grade, remotely-learning child, who is usually part of my “background” with the way our home office is configured. But the nice thing is that once you get into a video call, the background tends to fade into the “background” where it belongs. And the value of a video call to developing relationships and communicating effectively can’t be beat!
So, what have I learned from my newfound acceptance of video calling?
- During this time of socially distanced communication, video calls can help make you feel connected to reality – whether co-workers, clients, friends or family. While we can’t reach out and touch people, we can connect in a way that we probably never envisioned – imagine if this was 20 years ago, or even 10 – technology has provided us opportunities like never before.
- Everyone is in the same boat – I have a child who interrupts me during meetings and a dog who decides to bark at random, startling times. So I’ve learned to communicate with my family to alert them to times that I’d prefer not to be interrupted, if possible, and made great use of the mute feature on my interface to prevent any unwanted audio interruptions.
- I don’t look great against an orange wall – I’m a summer type, not an autumn. True story, client actually laughed when the call started and said “nice office”. The orange wall is actually at work – so when I end up going back to work next year, I’ll be spiffing up the decor on the wall or maybe repainting. Fresh start to a healthy new chapter!
- Virtual backgrounds are fun, but can cause issues for those with not so great internet on calls with several parties. I leave the backgrounds for calls with smaller audiences.
- And finally, while I was super stoked to work from home at the beginning of this ordeal, I am now starting to realize that I miss people. So, while I will likely get back into the office a lot more in the new year, I will continue to use the tools that have shown me that face-to-face video calls are not only effective, but not at all scary!
Some articles I found to be useful for tips and tricks on video calling software:
- Want to Stop Looking Terrible on Zoom? 7 Quick Tips to Up Your Video Calling Game
- 12 Tips for Video Conferencing While You Work From Home
- 13 etiquette tips for video conference calls
- Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don’ts of Video Conferencing