We've all been there. It's early in the morning and you're jumping on a call. But you forgot it was a video call, and you also forgot to cover your webcam before joining. So now everyone knows you as the person who wears cheetah pajamas and has a serious case of bed head. Not ideal.

Luckily practice makes perfect, and with the upcoming weeks of remote working, we gathered a few video call tips from body language expert, Vanessa Van Edwards. The bestselling author and founder of Science of People was also a keynote speaker at Ivanti's Sales Kickoff in 2018. 

Video Call Tip #1: Zoom Out

A headshot might be great for your LinkedIn profile picture, but on video calls, it's best to zoom out so that your whole upper torso is showing—especially your hands. According to Van Edwards, one of the easiest ways to boost charisma and increase nonverbal cues is to make sure your hands are visible in your video calls. 

Video Call Tip #2: Use Your Hands

Now that you've zoomed out, your hands are visible. That's a good start. But are you using them? If you want to be seen as more energetic, agreeable, and warm, use your hands.

Video Call Tip #3: Light Your Face

Lighting is everything. If you suddenly have dark circles when you turn on your webcam, it could be that the overhead lighting is causing shadows where you don't want them. If, on the other hand, you look like you're auditioning for a horror movie, it could be because your main light source is behind you, such as a window or floor lamp. The simple solution is to position the light in front of you so that it brightens your face. Professional YouTubers use ring lights, but a desk lamp will do the trick.

Video Call Tip #4: Keep the Background Basic

It's hard not to judge people by their backgrounds, whether positive or negative. Is your background full of books? You must be well-read. Is your background full dirty clothes? You must be disorganized. And so on. Try to keep your background simple and professional. 

Video Call Tip #5: Look at the Dot

A survey by Highfive showed that 30% of respondents who had used video calls said they spent half their time looking at their own faces. Consider what other people see as you constantly check the status of your hair: You looking in another direction, which could come off as disengaged. Instead, practice looking at the webcam dot, which mimics real life eye contact and even produces the chemical of connection called oxytocin.

manage, secure and deliver it for a remote workforceVideo Call Tip #6: Wave, Smile, and Use Your "Happy Voice"

Van Edwards suggests the best way to engender trust and connection is to start every video call with a wave and a smile. And maybe you'll need extra caffeine for this one, but try to say "hello" while thinking of something that makes you happy and holding a happiness microexpression. People can hear your mood, so do whatever you can (and drink as many cups of coffee as you need!) to keep your voice cheerful during video calls.

Video Call Tip #7: You Are What You Wear

As with a person's background, we can't escape the fact that we judge people within milliseconds of seeing their attire. According to this study, participants were asked to gauge the competency of people in two clothing categories, "poorer" and "richer." Not surprisingly, the people wearing clothing categorized as "richer" were rated as more competent.

For video calls specifically, it helps to avoid loud patterns/stripes, bulky clothes, large jewelry, or clothing that blends into the background.

Video Call Tip #8: Preparation

There's a lot to do in preparing for a video call, such as creating an agenda, gathering relevant links, and coming up with any questions you may have. It should go without saying that you should take care of personal things beforehand, such as going to bathroom, taking the dog out, or eating. Studies show that one of the most annoying sounds reported on video calls is hearing people eat.

In Summary

A successful video call can be achieved with just a little bit of effort. Take your video call etiquette to the next level with tips such as zooming out, using your hands, lighting your face, keeping the background basic, looking at the dot, using your happy voice, wearing something professional, and being prepared.