7 Best Practices for Video Conference Calls
Even before our lives turned upside down earlier this year, people were already looking into new therapeutic ways to manage their feelings. The onset of COVID-19 brought a new set of social distancing rules that forced therapists to adjust quickly to a new Teletherapy realm, and most therapists have seen great success with it.
Most of us couldn’t have ever anticipated we would be working from home full-time for this long. But by now, you are probably starting to realize that quarantine is the new way of life.
Hopefully, you have made yourself familiar with Telehealth and selected a Teletherapy platform that is right for you. Hopefully, your clients have also adjusted relatively well by now – showing up to appointments on time and finding a quiet place to talk during their online sessions.
With so many private practices making the transition to Telehealth, we wanted to provide as much helpful information for as many providers as possible, making it easy for mental health professionals to continue expanding on their Teletherapy services.
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Video calls have gone from a convenient tool to a lifeline for people in need. At this point, when it comes to video calls, most of us have surpassed the phase of fumbling to find the mute button and figuring out when not to speak over someone, but there’s always room for improvement.
In this blog, we will go over the top 7 best practices for video calls to make your upcoming sessions a breeze.
1. Use a headset or earbuds with a built-in microphone
It doesn’t have to be expensive – any sort of headset or earbuds that have a microphone will almost always sound better than using your laptop’s onboard sound. Using an external system will help make communicating more comfortable and make the video call feel more intimate, making your clients or viewers feel more connected with you. It can be astonishing how much clearer your voice sounds just by making this simple switch. Not to mention, with headphones, not only does your voice sound better, but you can also hear your client more clearly.
2. Eliminate as much external noise as possible
With remote participants joining from different places, there are many more background noises to distract on a video call than in an in-person meeting. These additional noises can make it challenging to hear the speaker and create more disruptions and distractions during your sessions. To combat this, try to eliminate as many background noises as possible, including people talking, dogs barking, tv sounds, outside landscaping noises, etc. Find a quiet space where you can be alone and free of other noises and distractions.
If you are having a hard time finding quiet spaces inside your house, look into renting out office space. Many clinicians have recently discovered the benefits of seeing clients virtually in a location that looks professional and is free of distractions. There are many affordable options available right now if you are interested in securing a physical place for your practice.
To help you get started for even less investment, we’ve just partnered with Humanly, a company that provides flexible office space for mental health and wellness professionals. They offer flexible month-to-month or longer-term options within a beautifully designed location. You can pay by the hour (single or recurring reservations), by the day, or have your very own private space, and we’ve worked with them to provide you with a HUGE discount!
Brighter Vision customers who sign up for a new membership with Humanly get up to 6 months free + pay no activation fee on an 18-month lease at any of their participating locations. Contact us to learn more about how you can redeem this amazing offer.
3. Dress appropriately
Even though the work wardrobe has changed due to remote working and the temptation to work from home in your pajamas might be at an all-time high, it’s still essential that you show up to every call looking just as professional as you would in the office. This helps give your patients some in-session consistency. If you show up looking unprofessional, it can give off the impression that you are not ready for the session. A good rule of thumb to always follow is if you wouldn’t wear it to the office normally, don’t wear it now.
Pro Tip: Dressing in bright colors can help bring life to the video call and help brighten your face, creating a more welcoming environment for your client.
4. Choose your background wisely
You are probably already dealing with a lot of stress, so you shouldn’t add to that by stressing over creating an elaborate background for your sessions. Just make sure nothing is distracting behind you. If something behind you is moving – such as people walking by or your cute cat chasing its toys around the room – it will draw your client’s attention away from the call. A good rule to follow when providing Teletherapy is: if it is not something you would show or do in your therapy office, then it should not be heard or seen in your home office. Your safest bet is to have a wall directly behind you or seclude yourself in a private room with few distracting background elements.
5. Make the most of your lighting & camera angle
Even though your computer video camera might not be in HD, like you would like, you don’t need a fancy camera or studio to look presentable and professional in video calls. All you need is a few tips and tricks to maximize your lighting and camera angles to make your video look the best it can.
How to make the most of lighting:
- Avoid sitting where a light source comes from behind you. This creates a silhouette effect and makes it very hard for clients to see your face and facial expressions, and makes it hard for your clients to feel connected to you.
- Avoid any lighting that comes from beneath you. Lighting from below your face creates unwanted shadows on your face.
- The best place to sit is with your light source in front of you. Setting a lamp somewhere behind your laptop works well, or if you can position yourself so that you’re facing a window, the natural light helps lighten your face and the mood of the session.
How to create the best camera angles:
- A camera angle below your face, which is the most likely angle when you’re using a laptop, can be unflattering.
- Try positioning your camera straight on or even slightly above you. The angle is more pleasing. You can achieve this by setting your laptop on a stack of books or using a laptop stand.
- If you’re using an external camera, try to place it as close to your computer screen as possible. You want to seem as though you’re making eye contact with your clients. If your camera is too far away from the screen, it can look as if you are distracted and not listening to what your client is saying.
Don’t let these tips cause you to obsess about how you look on a video call, though. The key here is to make sure that your clients can clearly see your face and eyes, so they feel like you’re still in the same room even when you’re not.
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6. Test everything ahead of time
Before starting your call, you want to be sure that everything is going to work effectively. The worst time to figure out how to use your equipment or troubleshoot an issue is during or right before the video call.
You must take time beforehand to familiarize yourself with all of the technology you are about to use to ensure it all works properly, so you are not caught troubleshooting and wasting time fixing unnecessary problems. Before every call, it’s a good idea to test your microphone, camera, lighting, and WIFI connection, so there are no surprises once your client is on the line.
7. Be prepared for connectivity issues
One of the most common problems you will face with video calls is a connectivity (WIFI) issue, which usually results in a glitchy or frozen screen or delayed audio. Problems like this can disrupt the session for both you and your client, and if not addressed, can waste a fair amount of time in your session.
If that happens, here are a few tips to troubleshoot:
- Try a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi.
- Turn off video
- Close anything that may be taking up bandwidth.
- Close unnecessary apps and tabs.
- Plug your laptop or mobile device into its charger. If your device’s battery is dying, it could affect your call’s video and audio quality.
- Exit the meeting and rejoin.
- Restart your computer.
Video sessions can be exhausting, but they’re part of our new normal. They’ve become an essential part of keeping your practice up and running. But with some preparation, you can take unnecessary stress out of each video call you have. Use these best practices for video calls, and you’ll have your next session go on without a problem.
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