Monthly Archives: March 2020

5 Tips For Improving Your Work From Home Video Calls

I’ve seen a lot of posts recently about turning on your video for calls, especially at a time when human connection is so important. I agree!

Below are five zero-expense tips for improving the call quality when you decide to switch on that video button, or the boss mandates it.

Bill Lumbergh Turn On Video

Tip #1: Light Your Face

Having sufficient, diffused light on your face will make you look more natural.

The typical home office available light sources, from best to worst, are:

  1. Face a window during the day. If the sun is shining directly in, draw the blinds or curtain.
  2. Use a desk lamp with a lampshade, or shine a lamp without a shade at the wall in front of you.
  3. Overhead lighting.
  4. Facing a dark wall with a window in the background.

Tip #2: Bathe and Dress

I’m a work from home veteran; my routine has been for the past few years:

  1. Wake up at 6:15
  2. Coffee
  3. Start calls at 6:30

Special times call for special measures, so I’m giving myself more time in the morning to do my hair. Work From Home official video dress code is “Casual But Not Pajamas”.

Tip #3: Raise Your Camera Position

Ideally the camera would be around eye level, but this can be difficult to achieve with most laptops. Some newer laptops put the camera below the screen, making the viewing angle even more harsh. (I’m pretty sure the Dell PC hardware engineers do not attend video calls.)

Some options to improve this are:

  1. The old stack of books under your PC.
  2. If you have an external keyboard and mouse, you have additional flexibility in positioning the PC’s camera.
  3. Sit back a bit further to increase the distance to the screen, which will help the angle of the picture.
  4. Many apps like Microsoft Teams allow you to join calls multiple times. You can join audio and video from a phone or iPad, and screen sharing via the PC. Mute the mic and speakers on the PC, and remember where the right unmute button is.

Tip #4: Give Us the Kid/Dog/Cat Tax

If someone unexpectedly shows up in the shot, they are allowed to join the video.

Tip #5: None of These Tips Matter

No one cares what you look like, they want to see you and have a shared experience. We’re not competing for a videographer or gaffer of the year award.

Try committing to one week of turning video on for most calls, and see what happens!

Choose Your Own Adventure

As a kid I read books from a series called Choose Your Own Adventure. In the books, you’d come to a decision point, and the book would offer you some relevant choices:

To fight the ninja, turn to page 48.

To scream and run away, turn to page 92.

With all the uncertainty, chaos, and change happening right now, I’ve been thinking a lot about which pages I’m going to pick.

“The Worst Day of Your Life”

To live with dark thoughts, turn to page 77.

To get better, turn to page 30.

In 2019, my mental health sucked.

Depression isn’t something I’m sure how to talk about. What I now know is there are a lot of virtual tools to get one-on-one therapy. (I don’t even have to leave the house!) Getting help helps.

“River of No Return”

To buy a house and continue living in Colorado, turn to page 54.

To throw out stable plans and wing it, turn to page 5.

My wife and I moved to Colorado from Indiana seven years ago. As much as we love our friends and family there, it was time for us to move on.

We both have virtual jobs where we can work from anywhere, so we decided to take our band on the road. We put our stuff into storage, and the plan for the next year is traveling across the United States, staying in cities for a week to a month. Right now we’re in Boise, Idaho. Next stop is Missoula, Montana.

It’s kind of a crazy plan that has already changed a hundred times, but we’re going to make it work for us.

“Trouble on Planet Earth”

To let zombies eat your face, turn to page 34.

To let vampires eat your face, turn to page 102.

There are too many times in life where the choices we are presented with are all terrible. Shouldn’t at least one of the choices be good? The Coronavirus pandemic is forcing a lot of “lesser of two evil” type choices, and all of us feel the stress related to those choices.

My goal is to not take out my own stress on others, and do my best to alleviate others’ stress if I can. It’s so easy for me to lose control of my emotions when I’m feeling uncertain; however, I know I can reign in negativity if I put the proper attention and focus on how I’m communicating.

“You Are a Superstar”

To have a good cry, turn to page 8.

To survive another day, turn to page 51.

To solve all the problems, turn to page 99.

Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we only have the capacity to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we are able to help others.

All of these adventures are different, not less.

I used to cheat at the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I would make sure I went through every permutation of storylines; I wanted to choose every adventure.

My hope for the next months is to choose all the adventures in front of me:

  • Have the capacity, energy, and empathy to help others navigate through crisis.
  • Take care of myself so that others don’t have to.
  • Continue to receive help through therapy.
  • And, of course, fight the ninja.

“Return of the Ninja”

To share your adventure, comment below.

To ask for help, email joelleichty@gmail.com.