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For video meetings, the eyes have it. Use these tips to make a better impression…

by ace
For video meetings, the eyes have it. Use these tips to make a better impression...

When you sit across the table from someone at a conference, look them in the eye.

It's basic etiquette.

But when it comes to videoconferencing, many people take a different approach, even if they don't realize it. They look down or up at other meeting participants and generally do not make eye contact.

If you want to have a successful meeting, that needs to change, says Larry Becker, a Florida videographer and author of the recently released book. "Great on camera."

We think we are making eye contact in a video meeting because we are looking at the faces on our screens and responding accordingly. But the camera is not on the screen, it is usually above it and sometimes even below it.

The eyes have (Photo: Jefferson Graham)

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Nor is it flattering, and the inferior approach seen on some laptops is not as flattering as they come. Laptop magazine referred to the camera in some of these models as a "nose camera", horror film directors used the technique in films like "Frankenstein" and "Dracula" to scare his "scream".

"If the camera is low and looking down, you can look slight to someone or distorted," says Becker.

Larry Becker, author of "Great for the camera", offers an example of incorrect webcam positioning when the camera is below where you are looking. (Photo: Larry Becker)

The author has an easy tip to keep you focused and looking at the webcam, instead of scrolling down the screen. He makes a small sticky note with the topics he wants to cover from the connection and glues it on top of the webcam.

He makes sure it's a small sticky note, "so as not to break eye contact and obviously look away," he says. "The higher the grade, the more obvious it is that you are looking the other way."

Place sticky notes above the webcam to keep you on track and ensure you are looking at the camera, not the screen. (Photo: Larry Becker)

More tips: Distance from webcam

Check the distance between the eyes and the webcam. You will probably be shocked. "The first thing that people don't realize about your camera is that it's a wide-angle lens," and they tend to distort people. "If it's a little low," adds Becker, "it's very low."

He says the camera must be level with your eyes, period. "Two inches shorter will look much shorter."

Here Larry Becker, author of "Great on Camera", is at eye level with the camera. (Photo: Larry Becker)

How do you know if you are too low: the ceiling appears in your image? If that happens, you have failed, he says.

Larry Becker shows you how to tell if your webcam is too low. If you can see the ceiling. (Photo: Larry Becker)

Your golden rule: keep your laptop 30 cm from the table.

This can be accomplished by placing the laptop on top of a pile of large books or by purchasing an economical accessory, a "riser", which may not be comfortable to type, but does wonders for its appearance. O RockJam Portable DJ The laptop stand sells for $ 20 on Amazon. Other similar items can cost between $ 30 and $ 50. Pyle sells a version for $ 40 this is adjustable.

Larry Becker has his laptop in a riser made for DJs to ensure he is making eye contact with his interlocutors (Photo: Larry Becker)

Remember that the same principles apply if you use the camera on your smartphone or tablet for your meeting. But if you use the phone, remember that holding in your hand is not a way to introduce yourself successfully during a meeting, because the camera will be shaky.

Placing the phone directly in front of the books to support it will not work because the phone will be very low and looking at your face. Try a table tripod with a smartphone adapter and place it on top of a stack of books. We like it $ 25 selfie stick that can double as a Vinsic tripod. It is adjustable, so for these purposes it should work well.

For tablets, many companies offer several adjustable stands. We found one for $ 25 in Lamicall's Amazon.

Stay focused on the call

"If you sit in front of someone and they look away, they telegraph that they are not interested in you, you are not important enough," says Becker. "A lot comes up at the discussion meeting, and you need to show that you're interested. I nod and smile to say 'I get it. I'm paying attention to you.'

Minimize distractions

Some final advice from Becker: put the phone in silence before a call, close the email on the computer to stop notifications and turn Facebook off completely because it is a major memory problem and can interfere with the quality of the video call.

Follow Jefferson Graham of USA TODAY (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter

Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2020/05/18/videoconferencing-tips-great-virtual-meetings/3119138001/

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