How to deal with awkward video calls

Natalia Wilkowskaon 29 March 2021
How to deal with awkward video calls

Avoid Skype mishaps and Zoom bloopers with these tips for dealing with awkward calls.

Online events, classes, and conference calls are now a regular occurrence for most of us, and it’s hard to prepare for all of them. Talking to someone through a screen is never quite the same as speaking face-to-face, and there’s always the chance that something could go wrong. Find out how to survive the awkward moments with these top tips:

1. Check your IT equipment 

Make sure all of your electronics are in order before joining a meeting. Remember to test your audio inputs and outputs, as well as your camera, to make sure everything works properly. Checking your equipment will minimise the chance of technical issues causing an awkward situation, reassuring you in the process.

2. Tidy up your environment 

Although it’s an online meeting and you can join from wherever you want, remember to prepare your environment. As well as dressing appropriately for the occasion, remember to take care of your surroundings, too. If it’s an important call, create a tidy, professional backdrop that conveys your organisational skills. Make sure nothing in the room will make loud noises or visually intrude on the call. The video call will run smoothly if everyone is on top of their surroundings.  

3. Prepare yourself

They say that preparation is the key to success, and this also applies to meetings, online or otherwise. If it’s an important meeting, remember to do your homework and prepare for the appointment. Familiarise yourself with the agenda to avoid stress and confusion. Feeling prepared will help you relax, improving the mood of the call. If you have an online tutorial or seminar, make sure you’ve done enough work to make sure you’re not wasting yours and the tutor’s time. If you have a job interview, research the company you’re applying for. Think of some questions before the meeting to avoid having to come up with them on the spot.  

4. Don’t stress

Don’t work yourself up over an upcoming call. Overthinking and inventing unlikely scenarios is never a good idea. Try to have a positive attitude going into it. Remember, it’s just a meeting, which is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. During the meeting, relax and listen to the other person. To kill the tension, you could compliment someone or crack a light joke. Be polite, smile, and behave appropriately to the situation. Most conversations go better than we expect them to.

5. Be yourself

Remember to be yourself no matter what. Use your words, tone, and facial expression to convey your wonderful personality. Watch your tone of voice in particular, as the other person on the call won’t be able to read your body language. If you’re a shy person, don’t hide it. Be yourself now, so you don’t have to change your behaviour further down the line. Don't stick around unnecessarily; if you have nothing more to add, say goodbye and leave. Use awkward silences as an opportunity to talk about topics you’re familiar with. Being yourself will benefit everybody involved with the call.

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Natalia Wilkowskaon 29 March 2021