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How to Master Working From Home: Video Calls

Hi there,

This is our week's last installment of How to Master WFH, thank you for all the great feedback - I will think of more tips as we go. When I think of video calls, I immediately remember when that kid famously walked in her dad's BBC News interview, his name is Professor Robert Kelly. When that happened, WFH parents from all over the world probably had the same reaction: we were horrified, we cringed, we nervously laughed, we sympathized, and we collectively thanked God that it wasn't us - yet.

Inspired by that incident, today I am going to focus primarily on how to prepare for a video call. Because I sat on enough of these to know it's a miracle that we don't have more disasters and bloopers like Prof. Kelly's on a daily basis. And now that we are all home and frazzled, maybe being prepared can help lessen our stress.

So how do we prepare for it?

Tip #1. Chose a quiet and private place that you can lock. You saw what happened to Prof. Kelly, so just do what you got to do - bribe your kids with candy, lock yourself in the bathroom, prop your bedroom door with a chair - whatever it takes to make sure you are not interrupted. But even so, I learned the hard way that having a lock in not enough. So in my house, in addition to locking my door, before every call I tell my husband and kids: "if you value your lives, you will not interrupt my meeting or scream at my door unless your hair is on fire". I add a more dramatic tone when I say ON FIRE, and It works most of the time. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Also, below another reason to be alone and give a warning 😳

Tip #2. Run a test: if you are doing a Zoom meeting for the first time, for example, test it first - ask a friend that uses the service all the time to test it with you.  Or just look it up and run a test yourself - you have Google for a reason. But whatever you do, NEVER EVER go into a video call without testing first. And do not, under any circumstances, try different features WHILE on a call, unless you want to be the Potato Lady up there. (I still laugh hysterically every time I see this photo though. That, my friends, is internet gold 🏆).

Tip #3. Check yourself out: now that you know how to join the meeting, and that you have everything for the call (downloaded the app, have the link and password, batteries on laptop are charged, got your notebook and pen for your notes, etc), you want to make sure your face in centered on the screen. That's right. Turn on the camera and see how you look. Have you joined video calls that people look like this:

Clearly, the only one who has it together is Hamster (although the lighting is atrocious, but it's slim pickings here). Just please whatever you do, just don't be Frog. Move your laptop or desktop until your face is in the middle - it's not that hard, people!

Tip #4. Get your act together: now that you are positioned like Hamster (sans the lighting issue, hopefully), take a look at yourself. Get yourself ready BEFORE the call so you don't spend the entire meeting fidgeting with your hair, pushing your fake eyelashes in place, and removing lipstick from your teeth - that's not a good look for you. Instead, do whatever you need to be comfortable beforehand: if it means to add make up, do it. Are you wearing a shirt 2 sizes too small and you keep pulling at it every 5 minutes? Change it (and please donate it to Goodwill after the call). Did you just roll out of bed and your hair looks like tumbleweed? Just brush it, for God's sake. Oh, important reminder here: your computer screen is NOT a mirror, and I do not recommend you finish your 10 step beauty regimen during your meeting. Just because you are looking at yourself and cannot see your co-workers, doesn't mean they cannot see you... and after they see your grooming habits, they won't be able to unsee them either, so please be charitable and spare them.   

Tip #5. Get your act together 2: look behind you. Do you see your underwear hanging all over your bed? Do you have food (or worse: wine bottles) laying all over the place? Does your "office" look like a daycare center gone wild? Do you have unacceptable lighting like Hamster? Please do not subject your poor colleagues to your mess, and clean up before the call. Or if it's hopeless, you can use tricks like Zoom's virtual backgrounds (get a tutorial HERE). When in doubt, position yourself against a white wall. No Brenda, your 3 scratched cat trees are not adding "warmth" to the meeting. Your co-workers have enough problems. 🤓

And remember: the mute button is your friend. If you missed those instructions from yesterday, please see them HERE . For the video of Professor Kelly:  click HERE. And before I sign off, a few more funny memes because we all need to laugh:

I hope these were helpful, and that your future meetings run smoothly. I will send more dispatches some time next week. For our complete WFH edit, click below. Be well and remember to turn that computer off  (and maybe visit us on Instagram after that). We will get trough this.


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