Nicky Z Back In The Saddle
Andy In the New York Times and Elsewhere On Working Anywhere

Working Anywhere: Video And Planning

Peter makes some good points about pre-planning not being necessary to have meaningful video communications.

To me, the point is, there isn't much difference in having a video call versus a chat or a phone call. That is if you are following the Boy Scout's moto, of always be prepared.

Here are my six tips:

1. Drop vanity. If you need to worry about how you look, darling, lose the cam, drop ten pounds, and realize you're not getting any better despite what your hair dresser has to say.

2. Get a cool hat. Nothing makes you more ill at ease than a bad hair day (unless it's a hangover). So find a cool hat. In my book it's a baseball cap, and make it part of your signature. If bad hair is your usual look, then by all means, get on the cam and let everyone know it.

3. Realize you're you. Don't change your attire if you work at home in your bathrobe and slippers. Just make sure your robe is appropriate for the time of the call. Of course cool sweats or a "signature" sweatshirt could also be best. Bottom line is "be comfortable" and forget the camera is the reason you have to look "marvelous" and realize that it's the content that matters, not the visual.

4. Have great lighting. I'm amazed at how much sharper video conferencing can be with better light. Case in point, a few days ago David Spark of eWeek and I had a SightSpeed conversation while I was in a darker than desired cafe. Fortunately there was enough screen light and SightSpeed worked like a champ. Later in a full light situation I know how much better my image was. Bottom line..light up baby and let the sunshine in!!

5. Learn how to multitask on camera. I know, people think you're not paying attention, but having had tons of face to face meetings with multitaskers, especially younger ones lately and real tech wonks who found speaking is a late blooming feature addition, if all you're doing is looking at them, it makes them think you're not working, not taking notes, and just listening. Some also get weirded out as they think you're staring.

6. Don't get hung up on what you don't do well. Case in point. Since everyone is not a touch typist, being able to type, and surf and reply to other forms of messaging while being part of a video chat has to become almost automatic. It's no longer rude to be doing that. It's the person on the other end who has to become a multitasker too. So, don't worry about it..Just be yourself all the time and don't let the camera change your habits.

One point though that I semi-disagree with Peter about on in his post is regarding mobile video. Mobile video is already here. The Nokia Nseries whose blogger program we run already has full motion video on the handsets and in real 3G environments works great. Just ask Howard Thaw of iotum who I used it with back during VON Europe when we were in Sweden. It worked great and is here today, even if it isn't here in North America. The problem in the USA isn't the technology or the lack of it. It's the carriers in the USA who are holding things back. Another example is what friend Rodrigo has done with VPOD.TV. More than a site, VPOD is really a tuner per se of video content. On a mobile you can shoot your own video, upload and watch it as well as let others see it to.

Bottom line..Video is becoming the next wave of two way communications. It's an the next step in the chain of voice, text messaging and the best way to really show the world who you really are.


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Some great tips Andy. I also think that you have to pay attention to what's behind you--your background. In my case at home, the background is a whiteboard, which doesn't look nice on video. It reflects all the light right back at the camera. There's also a chance I'll reveal all the top secret VOIPGirl stuff that's written on it.

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