Over the past year video conferencing has really taken off as a method of communication, not just in a business context but when it comes to personal relationships too. The impact of COVID-19 has made this an essential form of communication, whether you are dating, applying for a job or speaking to new friends. If English isn’t your first language this can be challenging but there are ways to make the experience easier - this is our guide to mastering work video conference calls in English so that you can get the best from them.
Before you start the call
- Look at the purpose for the call. Make sure you’re clear about why the call is happening and that you’ve seen a copy of the agenda if there is one so you know what’s going to come up.
- Think about the questions that are likely to come your way. Depending on your role in the conference call you could be called upon to contribute. If you’ve spent some time going through the questions you might potentially be asked this will make it much easier.
- Have a practice session. Video calls can be unnerving enough without also having to do them in another language. If you practice in advance then you’re likely to be more comfortable with the experience.
- Prepare your space. Check all your technology is working and that you have a clear space to sit in. If you need documents for the call make sure these are to hand and that you’ve prepared them in advance for ease of reference.
During the call
- If you’re opening the call avoid the embarrassing questions about whether anyone can hear or see you and start with something authoritative, welcoming everyone to the call, putting others on mute and asking them to use the chat function if they’re experiencing any issues or have questions.
- Do make sure that your camera is set at the right height for your face, that you’re dressed appropriately for whatever the call is about and that you’ve put some thought into what’s behind you (e.g. remove hanging washing, piles of clutter or mess etc).
- Keep eye contact throughout the call by looking at the camera and not at yourself on the screen.
- Give yourself a break and allow for some hesitation or mistakes - other people will know that English isn’t your first language and are more likely to be empathetic than judgmental.
- Avoid multitasking. Everyone will be able to see if you’re checking your emails at the same time as being on the call no matter how surreptitious you think you’re being so focus all your attention on the call.
After the call
Sit back and review. Is there anything you could learn from the experience you’ve just had? It’s always worth reflecting on the call to see if you could do something differently next time. Mostly though, this should be an opportunity to feel proud of what you’ve just achieved.
Mastering video calls in English takes time but these are some of the ways that you can start to build up your confidence.
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