The Climate Change Coaches team have been coaching virtually for years and almost all of our trainings are run online. Here are our light-hearted tips for avoiding an online disaster.
Forget the Chanel, but do think about how you and your office look on camera
- Set up your space with care, ideally in a closed room without distractions. Don’t underestimate how annoying your background noise is! – Hamish
- Your background says something about you so get those drying pants off that radiator! Backgrounds need to be bolder to stand out on the camera, though darker paint colours can just look black. Add interest with a screen, a big plant or a print. – Charly
- Fix your light levels. Are you blinded by a window, or is your face too shaded? Just like a still camera, if there are extremes of light, the video camera will make dark things darker and bright things brighter. Use background lighting to fill in. – Emily
- Try to avoid speaking from your bed, and not just because it looks less professional. It’s helpful for good sleep to keep bed just for sleeping. If you can, don’t confuse your brain by associating the bed or bedroom with work. – Charly
- If you dress up for your call, make sure that your outfit looks good from the waist up. Something that looks smart full length could look scruffy when just the top half. – Zoe
- Wear lipstick to look less ghostly! I don’t wear lipstick in ‘real’ life but find that without it during online calls, the camera can make me look a bit dead! – Charly
- It’s a simple one, but it makes a big difference. Wipe your camera lens clean to get a clear image. – Emily
Plan and rehearse your session beforehand if you’re leading it
- Rehearse any instructions you will give to participants beforehand so they are really clear. – Emily
- At the planning stage, think about the ‘why?’ or reason for your webinar or meeting. Why do people need it and what do you want them to come away with? I spend a few minutes connecting to this why in very human terms and it helps me to focus beyond my nerves on what is needed. It can be helpful to articulate this at the outset of the call too. I find noting this down quickly beforehand helps me to get really clear and focused about the why, how and what of the session. – Sarah
- Make sure you check your screen permission before you start if you want to screen share during a call. – Emily
Never work with children and animals!
- Don’t let your dog join in! Herbie once licked my face during a training! – Sarah
- Put yourself on mute when you’re not speaking. On my last call, my daughter shouted ‘daddy I need a poo!’ just after I put myself on mute! – Charly
- Feed the dog first. I was guiding a visualisation on zoom and my dog started groaning in the background. It definitely lightened the mood! – Joey
- Now that many of us have children at home, if your kids could appear on a call make sure they’re dressed for their own protection. Faces covered in chocolate are fine though! – Charly
- Always acknowledge at the start of the conversation that you are at home, and that whilst you’ve done everything you can to replicate a professional setting, the presence of children and animals may produce some unexpected sounds or interruptions! – Ruth
- Have a glass of water to hand if you’re going to be longer than 30 minutes online
During the call – get present, sit up straight and don’t rustle!
- Sit upright in the camera view and try not to spend the whole call making notes. People want to see your face! – Hamish
- If you need to get up, turn off your camera before you do so, so that others aren’t distracted by your movement. – Ruth
- Maintain presence and refrain from multitasking. It’s so tempting but you’re actually wasting time if you’re doing more than one thing. – Hamish
- Check your sound to make sure that it’s clear. It’s really easy to block your speakers with a sheaf of papers. Likewise be mindful of not rustling papers while speaking or listening. – Charly
- Be concise – people online aren’t paying as much attention so be clear and don’t waffle! – Emily
- Have a glass of water on hand if you’re call will be longer than 30 minutes. It’ easy to forget to drink! Zoe
- Avoid presenting for more than 20 mins at a stretch. People can’t concentrate for that long, online or off. – Sarah
- Try not to fidget and remember that if you’re sharing your screen, everything you’re doing is displayed. I’ve been distracted this week by people moving their mouse around the screen unnecessarily. – Ruth
Try something a little less ordinary
- Don’t be too shy to get people to do physical things during moments of transition in the call, to shake them out of their sitting poses. This could be as simple as a stretch or jogging on the spot, or as relaxing as lying on the floor. – Hamish
- Make use of breakout rooms if you have them. Death by plenary, in which everyone is in every discussion is draining. Break people into small groups to discuss ideas and feed back afterwards. – Zoe
- Spice it up a bit if you suspect it will be a slow meeting. How about fancy dress? I’ve already done an apocalyptic themed call and plan to do more! – Hamish
And if it all goes wrong… relax, it’s human!
Joey says, online doesn’t need to be scary! Don’t worry if after all your prep and advance planning things go wrong – it’s human. Worrying about it won’t make it less likely. Just be yourself. This is especially the case if you are looking to build rapport and get to know someone.