What Are the Best Ways to Look Professional While on a Video Call?
Nearly a year and a half after the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States, many restrictions have been lifted. But video calls, which quickly entered the mainstream as we all quarantined at home, aren’t going anywhere.
For real estate professionals, video calls have become essential for everything from virtual home walk-throughs to meeting with long-distance clients. In fact, 63% of homebuyers in 2020 made an offer on a home they never saw in person, which is largely due to tech-savvy real estate agents who use photo and video in creative ways.
In real estate, like in many industries, the use of video meeting software such as Zoom spiked dramatically last year. In a six-week period, Zoom went from 10 million daily meeting participants to 300 million, Business Insider reported.
And video isn’t just a pandemic-era fad. By 2022, video will make up 82% of all internet traffic across the world — an increase from 75% of traffic in 2017, the technology company Cisco predicted.
But as video calls became a routine part of professional life last year, many people made etiquette mistakes they didn’t even know they were making.
So, let’s revisit the basics.
Why Real Estate Professionals Use Video Calls
As real estate professionals work to stay current, it’s crucial that they figure out how to incorporate video into their business model. A big part of that is being willing to hop on a video call if that’s what’s most convenient for your client.
“[Using video] is an efficient manner of being able to give your clients what they need,” said Mabél Guzmán, a Broker at Coldwell Banker in Chicago, in a video for the National Association of REALTORS®. She began conducting showings virtually several years before the pandemic because she works with clients who live overseas or who travel often.
Virtual showings became a crucial strategy last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Guzmán said she sees them remaining important “moving forward,” too.
She provided three tips for real estate professionals conducting virtual showings:
Choose the app that works best for your client: “Ask them if they already do FaceTime or if they do Google Hangouts or whatever with somebody else. Use that app. If you don’t have it, re-adapt to them, because it’s really about them. Make it easy.”
Communicate size: “You’ve got to give them perspective when you walk into the space. So, if it has high ceilings, point to a door and say, ‘This place has a lot of volume, and I’ll tell you why. Because you see that door, it’s 7 feet or 8 feet. Look how much more ceiling space there is.’”
Debrief with your client: “Debrief virtually. You’re right there in your car. Have a conversation with them about the things that they just saw. In that debrief, ask them: What did they think of the experience? Was it good for them? Is this something that they can continue to do? And how is it that you can make it better for them?”
Younger millennials (born 1990-1998) and older millennials (born 1980-1989) together make up the largest share of homebuyers at 37%, says NAR’s latest “Homebuyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report,” which was released earlier this year. Younger generations, such as millennials or Gen Z, are incredibly comfortable with technology, and if you want to work with them, you need to get on board, too.
Best Practices for Video Calls
As you conduct business over video, it’s important to remain professional. Video calls can often feel informal, especially if, before the pandemic, you only used video to connect with friends or family members. But you can’t forget that this is a work conversation. Whether you’re on FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams, you need your clients to see you as professional, trustworthy and competent.
Paying attention to how you actually present yourself on camera can make a huge difference. Worrying about angles and lighting might seem silly, but a few extra minutes of effort can make or break how your clients and coworkers see you.
When possible, seek out natural lighting by facing a window, and avoid being backlit, which happens when there’s a window or light fixture behind you, creating awkward shadows.
“Choose good lighting,” Maria Vargas, the on-set makeup artist for E! News, told Byrdie. “The brighter the better. You want to avoid dim lights that cause shadows.”
Knowing your angles becomes especially crucial if you’re video chatting from your phone. You don’t want the camera to be too close to your face or for the caller to be forced to look up at your chin.
Try holding your phone about 12 inches away from your face, at eye level, and tilting the screen downward slightly, The New York Daily News recommends. Stay far enough away from your phone that you don’t fill up the entire screen.
Wardrobe is important, too. While it’s often true that only your top half is visible on video calls, that doesn’t mean you can slack off when it comes to your appearance — especially if you’re speaking with a new client and hoping to put your best foot forward.
“Fashion and looking polished for video chats can be a game changer for yourself and any potential clients,” celebrity stylist Alison Brooks told TODAY. “When we are working from home and we step up our look, it says to the world that we are honoring our profession and inspiring others to do the same.”
It doesn’t hurt to spruce up your background a bit, too. Are there baskets full of laundry behind you or dishes in the sink? If you’re in a bedroom, is the bed unmade? Take a few minutes to tidy up.
"Humans subconsciously make an instant judgement based on what we see,” interior designer Courtney Warren told TODAY. “For instance, is your new consultant taking a call from a home office that is cluttered or chaotic? We might assume she will handle our account in the same haphazard fashion. Is the new hire’s space tidy, well-curated and professional? Suddenly, our confidence in her competency has skyrocketed.”
And last but not least, don’t forget to mute yourself when you’re not talking (and to unmute yourself when you are). Not knowing how to use the mute button appropriately has quickly become a workplace faux pas on the level of accidentally hitting “reply all” to a company-wide email.
Armed with these tips, you have what you need to further expand your business while meeting your tech-savvy clients where they’re comfortable. Now go forth and use video calls with confidence.
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