Attorney Dos and Don'ts for Video Calls with Potential Clients

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Attorney Dos and Don'ts for Video Calls with Potential Clients
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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, video conferencing has become an increasingly important part of day-to-day business. Industries that have traditionally relied upon in-person meetings with their clients are discovering new ways to engage with their clients remotely, and the legal industry is no exception. With the increased need for video conferencing in the legal industry, it is especially important for attorneys to stay up to date on the dos and don’ts of video calls.

Do:

  • Dress professionally. Just as it is important to appear professional at in-person meetings, it is important to appear professional on camera. This can help instill trust between an attorney and potential client, presenting yourself as a reliable professional. Any part of your body that may be caught on camera should be well-kept and presentable.
  • Place the camera at eye-level. It is important to position your webcam at eye-level; this recreates the sensation of an in-person conversation. If the webcam is placed too high, low, close, or off to the side, the person you are conversing with will lose out on the opportunity to feel like they’re having a real, in-person conversation.
  • Look into the camera. A good video conference should recreate an in-person meeting as closely as possible. Looking into the camera synthesizes eye contact and can help the person on the other end of the camera feel like you’re truly engaged and attentive.
  • Frame your video. It’s important to center yourself horizontally in the video frame whenever you engage in video conferencing. It is also important to sit far enough back from the webcam that your upper arms and shoulders are visible on the screen. A good rule of thumb is to be a little more than an arm’s length away from the camera; this is about how far people stand from each other in real conversation.
  • Think about your background. This is where it’s time to get artistic. If you have some impressive looking legal books, framed photos, artwork, or achievement certificates, it’s a good idea to place them on the wall or shelf behind you in a way that is not overwhelming or distracting. These small touches add some life and professionalism to your image on the screen.
  • Consider your lighting. It is important to make sure that neither side of your face is cast in dark shadows, and that you are not entirely backlit, which often appears as a sort of glowing around your body. Both these situations are not only unflattering but can be distracting for others in the video conference.
  • Purchase a webcam. The built-in cameras on many laptops and computers are woefully inadequate for video conferencing. Not only does the location of the camera in the laptop make it difficult to achieve a complementary angle, but the video quality is often fuzzy at best and can alter the lighting and colors around you for an overall unprofessional result.
  • Consider purchasing a good microphone. Unfortunately, the built-in microphones that come with many laptops and computers can result in poor audio quality. If you are likely to spend a considerable amount of time on video conferences, it’s probably wise to invest in a good external microphone and webcam.

Don’t:

  • Backlight. Backlighting occurs when someone is positioned in front of the camera with the light filtering from behind them. Backlighting often appears as a sort of glowing outline around you and can wash you out, cast strange shadows, and appear overall unprofessional.
  • Film from bed. Don’t film while in bed or reclining on a sofa. Not only does this make finding a professional angle for the camera nearly impossible, but is obvious to others in the conference and does not look professional.
  • Use your laptop video camera without adjustments. Using the webcam installed in your laptop or computer, especially without adjustments, can lead to looking like a floating head. The perspective of many of the built-in cameras can force others in the video conference to view your face at an unnatural angle. It is highly recommended to purchase an external camera for video conferencing purposes.
  • Put the camera too high. While it’s preferable to put the camera higher rather than lower, putting the camera too high can remove the focus on you and highlight the other things in the room around you.

It’s important to note that while some people may be tempted to view the transition to video conferencing as temporary, it is likely to far outlast the coronavirus pandemic. Experts predict that remote working and communication methods are likely to become the new normal, even when they are no longer strictly necessary. It is particularly important for those in the legal industry to develop their video call conferencing skills to give their clients and colleagues the most professional and effective remote-communication experience possible.

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