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As remote positions grow in the legal industry, it's important to understand what is appropriate and beneficial in a business video chat.
DO keep it simple for meetings/consultations with clients
During important meetings with clients, you want the focus to be their legal issue, not the wallpaper in your living room that you have been meaning to replace. If you don’t have a calm or neutral background for a video chat, you might want to throw a blanket or sheet over a bookshelf behind you to accomplish the same effect.
DON’T forget your surroundings
We’ve all heard the horror stories of people forgetting to turn their camera off when going to the bathroom or changing. Make sure you are aware of the camera on you at all times. And, since it’s a business call, keep it professional. This means:
DO look into your webcam
Because we lose some of our nonverbal communication during a video chat, you’ll want to make up for it in personable touches. Eye contact, for example, can go a long way (especially when speaking with clients). Eye contact during a video call means looking into your webcam. This means taking care to position it in an appropriate spot so as to maintain control of your video chat settings. It also means not giving into the temptation of staring at yourself during a call!
DON’T forget: it’s your personal space, but it’s also a workplace
We all have those days where we’re juggling our work and personal life. Most of the time, if you’re working from home, it’s possible to do two things at once. However, with a video call, it’s a different story. Connection is key in a video chat, so make sure to set yourself up for success. Allow yourself to “step into” work when you’re on a call, and forget about anything else that might be going on (unless emergent). Be present; laundry can wait.
DO run a test of how you sound/look
Because your appearance and sound quality matter, you’ll want to set up your video chat space to allow for the best possible circumstances. Test this out by starting a video meeting with yourself and recording it to ensure you are able to hear yourself clearly. You’ll also want agreeable lighting. Dimly lit or awkward spaces may give you a strange or uninviting appearance which can change the mood of the conversation. It doesn’t need to be a movie set, but experiment to find the lighting of your choice.
DON’T let technical issues get the best of you
Sometimes internet issues, whether on yours or the other persons’ end, can interrupt a video call. This will happen at some point. If you are the type of person who gets frustrated easily with technology, understand that this is only temporary and that rescheduling a call can be arranged. It’s much more important to focus on the chat and the person themselves, than something you may not be able to control.
DO include your personality
The legal industry doesn’t have a reputation for being the warmest industry. With this in mind, there is no need to completely erase your personality while on a video call. Many people bring in family photos to put on their desks, so you can include something like this as well. Since video chats are all about connecting (especially with clients), it can be powerful to take some time to personalize your video chat space. As always, don’t go overboard and don’t overshare. It’s always an asset to remind your recipient that you’re human.
DON’T underestimate the power of practice!
If video chats are new to your business practice, it’s worth it to do a practice run with you and your colleagues. Ask them their input on how you sound/appear, and allow the power of your network to once again help make you into a better lawyer.
Legal.io’s CEO, Pieter Gunst (top middle) takes time to chat with other lawyers during a lockdown.