Video calls and virtual meetings

Self-isolation is resulting in extensive use of video calls and video meetings held via the Internet.  This really is a good way to keep in contact.  Grandparents are reading bedtime stories to their grandchildren like never before, and even playing snakes-and-ladders at a distance!

Doing this requires downloading a program (an app) to your smart phone, tablet, laptop or PC (if the latter you will also need to add at least a microphone).  While there are quite a few programs available, the leading ones are:

  • WhatsApp which is very good for 1-to-1 conversations
  • Zoom which is excellent when several people are going to be involved as you can see them all.

Your appearance probably does not matter too much when talking to your nearest and dearest, but there are a few tips worth bearing in mind, especially in a larger meeting.

  • try to position your phone (etc) reasonably high.  Eye level would be ideal, otherwise on a table in front, possibly on a pile of books.  Looking up your nose from your lap is not your best profile.
    Having said that, you will now notice how many people being interviewed on TV from their home, and even presenters working from home, are looking down at their laptop!
  • Think about the background behind you. Avoid a bright window as you will then just be a silhouette. A plain wall is ideal, the rest of your house is likely to be distracting, especially if there are others around.
  • Lighting from a widow in front or a bit to the side is good.  Sitting under a room light casts bad shadows.
  • Close the door if there are others around as extraneous noises are distracting, especially in a meeting.  If there are unavoidable noises then consider muting your microphone except when you want to talk.
  • Check your own on-screen thumbnail to see how you look to others.

Key is to enjoy your video chat.  Don’t think these are rules, just tips.


There are several pieces from the BBC:

Keep yourself and others safe.  Keep in touch.

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