An audio call is as easy as typing in 10 digits and talking. You could be unshowered and disheveled, and no one would know as long as you spoke clearly and paid attention. With the growing ubiquity of video calls for personal and professional communication, a whole new set of expectations has emerged.

Here is how I prepare for an important video call with Google Hangouts, but the core concepts apply to Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom as well.

Download Chrome

If you don’t have Google Chrome installed on your computer, you will need to install it for Google Hangouts to work.

Download it here

Prepare Your Time

Make sure you accept the calendar invitation and block out 10 or 15 minutes before your scheduled hangout. You will need this time to get settled in and prepare for the meeting.

Try to be alone in a room that does not echo.

Prepare Your Set Up

I can’t stress enough how much webcams suck; they need all the help they can get, specifically with lighting.

Read the article and watch the video from Wistia so that you can “Look Great in Your Next Webcam Video

If you light yourself like the Wistia video shows you to, your image quality will be dramatically better.

As a bonus benefit of lighting yourself well and having a simple background, you will improve the performance of your video stream since the image compression will be better.

Prepare Your Audio

Use headphones. This used to be a must because the audio feedback would be insane. However, recently the streaming software has gotten better at filtering out background audio. Even with these advancements, it’s still a good idea to use headphones.

If you have a nice microphone, use it!

Even if you don’t have a nice podcasting microphone, you will almost certainly benefit from using something other your computer’s built-in mic. Standard Apple Earbuds or Airpods are great choices.

Whatever you use, make sure you can change the audio devices in the call prep screen:

Prepare Your Computer

If you have done everything else on this list, you are set up to be a Google Hangout Star! The only thing that can trip you up now is your computer doing things in the background.

Be sure to close any other programs running on your computer and pause any syncing programs like Dropbox or Backblaze.

If you are on a Mac be sure to turn on Do Not Disturb Mode.

Make sure your microphone and camera permissions are enabled for Google Hangouts.

Prepare to Be Awesome

This might seem like a lot of work to prepare for a Google Hangout, but these are good habits to get into for any video call on any platform.

If you plan on using your Mac to do a lot of video calling, then you might want to think about buying iGlasses to help you compensate for the low quality of webcams.

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