Council Post: Your DIY Guide For Surviving Video Calls At Home

Google recently shared that they are not going to ask employees to go back to work till 2021, as did Facebook, and Amazon has extended their work-from-home guidelines to at least October.

With this new reality and without an end date in sight for many others working from home, spending 24/7 with kids and a partner, and keeping up with house tasks and work, you wonder, “How can I pull this off without any training?”

I’ve spent the last two months teaching, training, and explaining how to manage video calls and meetings from home.

Regarding organizational protocols, how to manage video calls 9 to 5, five days a week is a challenge.

Where to start? Well, let’s start with who you are. Yes, who you are is the first step.

Why Personality Matters

Introverts. Extroverts. Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator definitions, there is only one difference you can spot between the two, and that is how they recover energy. If you are an introvert, make sure your meetings are not set one right after another. Set your calendar to give you “me time” for at least 15 minutes between meetings so you can be ready for the next one. Space your meetings throughout the week; you will be more productive having three to four meetings a day than being on calls from 9 to 5. Book yourself time to take a walk or have some alone time before you get back to family gatherings or calling friends.

If you are an extrovert, then maybe you crave human interaction, which gets worse if you live by yourself. But make sure you are not overbooking meetings; not all your clients, co-workers or friends need to be on a video call. Try to ask the person you are meeting how much video interaction they need or want and keep your social intro in a meeting to the right amount of time, depending on the other person or people, in order to maintain a balance, as extroverts can be seen as overwhelming.

What To Ask Before Booking A Meeting

A tool most people have to book meetings is an online calendar. In my case, I have three options when booking a meeting: a phone call, a video call or a coffee meeting (which we can’t use right now). Asking the other person about the option they are more comfortable with will set a parameter for future meetings with them. So whether they are a new client, your manager, a co-worker or an employee, give them options based on the topics or needs of the meeting. It is okay to say “I don’t feel video ready today” at a company meeting. I have those days, too, so never force a person to be in a video call, as it can ruin the meeting and the participation of others.

How To Use Video Calls

Some video conferencing programs allow you to have three types of different meetings: 1) sharing your audio-only, 2) sharing your screen and audio or 3) sharing audio, your screen and your camera. What should you use? Audio is only good for people who do not want to share phone numbers or are auditory and want to hear your voice. Voice and screen sharing meetings are great for focusing on presentations, such as a demo. Video, audio and screen-sharing meetings are best used when you require the cooperation or interaction of your attendees. Make sure you appear on screen only when you need to say something and then “leave” so the attendees can see what you’re sharing.

Do You Have Five Minutes?

Let’s get real: What can you do in five minutes? Probably have a coffee and ask about the weather. If it is your first video or phone call meeting, be clear with the time you need. It is more convenient to move the meeting to another time or day than to make the other person mad because you weren’t clear about the time and purpose of the meeting. If you ask for five minutes, that is exactly what you should get.


When you confirm a meeting, set clear bullet points of the topics you will address. If I am in my spare bedroom talking to you and I have to go to the basement to look for documents and print a graphic because you weren’t clear enough, that is not a good way to make use of the meeting time. And let’s be honest, who is not wearing pajamas on meetings? And do not get me started with the fact that leaving the meeting to look for something is going to break the business mood.

Are Sticky Notes Enough?

There is a reason why we have colored sticky notes, so use them! Write the name or names of the people you will be talking about. Write the topic, agenda and important points to remember. Write your calls of action on bright colors. I use the street light colors order. Red is urgent, yellow can wait and green is done and good to go.

Use Good Sound

If you need to choose one element to spend money on now that you are working from home, then choose this: a good microphone. People need good content (what you have to say). Sound with noise in the background can irritate your listeners.


“I am the perfect candidate for the position, I am organized, and I get the job done.” And then it turns out that your bed is visible in the video, and it is undone with a pile of laundry waiting to be folded. And that stuffed bunny your ex gave you is on top of the nightstand. That’s a no-no!


Never do video calls with a window behind you. Always use the light coming from a window in front of your face. Just make sure you are a certain distance away so you don’t get the sunlight directly in your eyes.

Smile, always smile — it is free and it is a good way to say, “Hi, I hate video meetings, too.”

Originally published at



Susan Ibitz-

Human Behavior Hacker | Lead Researcher | Trainer ​Micro-Expression, Body Language, Deception-Detection, Statement Analysis & Face Reading