A Newbie's Guide to Video Conferencing: 10 Tips on How to Be an Instant Pro (and NOT Embarrass Yourself!)

April 5, 2020
A Newbie's Guide to Video Conferencing: 10 Tips on How to Be an Instant Pro (and NOT Embarrass Yourself!)

With so many educators using Zoom, Google Hangouts or other video conferencing platforms for the first time, I thought it'd be good to share some tips and tricks to save face!

I've been using Zoom for awhile now and have learned some things the hard way! Maybe this Newbie's Guide can save you from some embarrassing and panicked moments! 😅

Aside from the basic don't Zoom while peeing and don't forget to wear pants, here are some practical tips I wish someone would have shared with me when I first started out video conferencing. The most important thing is to remember to BE YOU, be honest and patient through this process, and just have fun with it!

Let's make this transition to online learning and teaching easy:

Look into the camera, not at yourself!

💥PRO TIP: Keeping looking at the camera even when someone else is speaking so they feel like you are looking right at them! This will keep the connection strong!

Consider lighting and background.

💥PRO TIP: Open your camera or start a Zoom meeting with yourself to play around with the lighting and background to make sure you feel good about it all! And look at the whole scope of the background and make sure you are okay with what they are behind and around you. And the lighting should light you up! I have an extra lamp right behind my computer so it brightens up my face.

Give yourself (and Zoom) enough time to open and start running.

💥PRO TIP: If your computer is on the slower side, then give it plenty of time to wake up so you're not struggling with tech issues right before your class or meeting is about to start - ESPECIALLY if you are the host! 💥SUPER PRO TIP: Plan for tech issues! 😜

Be patient and let go of perfectionism!

💥PRO TIP: Be patient with yourself first! We are all venturing into new territory so don't get caught up in being perfect every time! Build in time to work through glitches and unexpected issues.

Establish community guidelines and stick to them!

💥PRO TIP: Don't just tell them how to show up to your new virtual classrooms or meeting spaces, but create the guidelines together so they buy into it and follow them!

Get dressed, head to toe, and put on some makeup.

(Even just a little touch makes a big difference!) Remember: you are "going" to work!

💥PRO TIP: Video conferencing can really wash you out. I keep a favorite color lipstick (that looks good on video) right next to my computer so I can throw it on quickly if I forgot beforehand.

Clear your desk and your desktop!

Close everything else on your computer to eliminate distraction, stay focused, and avoiding sharing something on your screen that you don't want them seeing!

💥PRO TIP: Don't just minimize windows - actually close the windows to be safe. AND...consider your wallpaper and what's sitting on your desktop, too. As you share screens, anything you have up, they can see!

Use the chat box often to keep them engaged!

💥PRO TIP: Be explicit about using the chat box. Be clear about how, when and what to use the chat for. But also be really clear about what NOT to use chat for - a lot can be happening in private chat that you won't be aware of. Include this in your community guidelines!

If you are hosting, make it easy on yourself!

💥PRO TIP: Always use your personal meeting ID instead of new one every time, and select mute upon entry and enable waiting room. Automate as much as possible!

Get up and move around!

💥PRO TIP: It is easy to stay in the same spot and keep plugging away but movement is really important! Remember - if the bum is numb, the brain is the same! So build in breaks to get up, move around, and even host a 2 minute dance party! Set a timer and make sure you take (or host) a brain break at least every hour!

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