Monday, August 13, 2012

5 ways to look your best on Skype, video chat and Google+ Hangouts

Most of us do our "public speaking" at work in meetings and on conference calls--and these days, the options for visual conferencing are everywhere, from Skype to Google+ hangouts to traditional videoconferencing. If you're used to telephone conference calls, the rise of the visual call adds another layer of checklist items before the meeting. Prepare yourself with these five resources, tips and ideas to appear your best:
  1. Take it from Skype: This interview goes right to an expert from Skype for five tips to help you look good on video chat, from sitting up straight to putting the webcam level with your forehead (try this Griffin Technology Elevator Laptop Stand for that purpose). The author tries the tips and shares a before and after photo of her results.
  2. Get a better focus on the person you're talking to: Not so worried about your face, but that of the person you're talking to? Botiful can help you keep that other caller's face in the frame. It's a small thing, but that might help you look more engaged--and engaging--if you're not trying to follow a moving target.
  3. Consider HD-friendly makeup: If you do enough work in front of HD cameras for your videoconferencing, webinars or video chat, you may want to explore the new foundations and other makeup products designed to smooth out the flaws made more visible by high-definition cameras.
  4. Get familiar with new platforms: You'll look and feel more confident if you've practiced using different video chat and call platforms. Try ooVoo, a Skype alternative with a good primer here, or OnTheAir, where you can host your own live chat. Don't forget to try video chat from your mobile phone. You can now start a Google+ Hangout from your Android phone, for example. Ask a colleague to practice with you until you're both at ease.
  5. Tilt your head forward:  This video (a full 15 minutes' worth) shows examples from portrait photography, but these tips will work for you on video chats, too. It's worth practicing, because it will feel awkward at first.