This is a video from a Udemy course I created a few years ago to help people maximize their efficiency while working from remotely or from home. Instead of selling it as a paid course, I’m sharing the content here, for free. I hope you find it helpful. -Ron Stauffer

I’ve already mentioned the joke about the people who are dressed from the waist up and not wearing pants. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that person who doesn’t take this seriously or has such a lackadaisical attitude that they say, well, it doesn’t matter because they’ll never notice, as I’ve said before.

Being prepared involves more than just. You know, brushing your hair and putting your clothes on. It also involves a mindset of being prepared and all of these things go together. So make sure that you’re not that guy who’s, uh, always has his video off on the video conference, because he doesn’t want you to see that you, he didn’t brush his hair or that his office is a mess.

Try to take this seriously. If you’re at your office, treat it with as much respect as you would respect your office. If it were at an office building. Sometimes this might involve some things that you haven’t really thought about. Something that’s really helpful to do is to sit in your chair where you normally take your video conference conversations and turn on your webcam without anybody else watching.

And make sure the webcam is pointing directly at you. So you can see what other people see when they’re doing a video conference with you. Take a look around your head, look at what’s in the background, make sure that you don’t have like. Garbage bags or overflowing trash cans or random things in the background that are distracting.

Um, I’m surprised at how many times I’ve had video conferences with people who work from home and I can see weird things or unflattering things, or like, you know, sometimes I’ll see like a beer bottle that was clearly there from last night or a couple of days ago. Take the time to look around you. In a way that you wouldn’t necessarily think of?

I think part of the problem is people they don’t know how they’re being perceived on the other end. So it’s a really good idea before you do a video conference, but, but on a regular semi-regular basis, put your webcam on and take a look and then just remember that everything that’s in, the frame that you’re seeing right now is what people on the other end will see.

So for example, Here’s a classic example. If there’s a white board behind you, be careful about what’s written on that white board before you have a video conference, I’ve seen a couple of things that I should not have ever seen in the video conferences I’ve had, where I can see somebody. Sitting in a chair and behind them is a whiteboard and it has some awfully personal notes.

And what they don’t know is because my picture of them is zoomed in pretty big. I can read what’s on that whiteboard. I’ve seen numbers that I probably wasn’t supposed to see. I’ve seen sales information about. Just one, the such and such job. I’ve seen things that probably were actually under nondisclosure agreements.

I’ve seen embarrassing notes from spouses. We need to remember that when we’re bringing a video camera into our office space, that that’s a portal to the world. Make sure if you’re looking at a camera right here, turn all the way around and look at what’s behind you. I used to work for a company that had an office that I went into and we had this phrase that we would say, which has sanitize the office.

What that meant was somebody of some particular, uh, importance to our company was coming into the office. So we needed to go around and make sure that. We had multiple whiteboards. We wanted to make sure we didn’t have embarrassing information on those whiteboards. And that doesn’t mean embarrassing.

Like we were doing anything wrong. It could mean that a potential client was coming through and we didn’t want them to see that yesterday. We had a big brainstorming session that discussed profit margins and how we wanted to increase our profits to the highest in the industry. That is a great thing to have for your business goal.

That’s a great conversation to have with your coworkers. That’s not really something you want your potential clients to see. As soon as they walk in your door, you don’t want to be bragging about, you know, we cost more than the following competitors and our biggest weaknesses are such and such, right.

Focused on sanitizing your office to make sure that you’re not showing off things that you shouldn’t, or that are embarrassing. And, um, again, those don’t have to be bad things per se, but you should get in the habit of cleaning your office. And I mean that literally in the sense that you should take out the garbage, but also cleaning your office in the sense that you should be careful about.

What you let people see. And especially when you’re working from home, it’s easy to forget that because you don’t have clients walking in and out of your office on a regular basis. And especially if you’re the only one who works at home, you can just kind of get in the mode that, Oh, that’s my office.

Everything’s confidential. Well, it might be, but if you’re FaceTiming somebody or if you’re having a video conference with 300 people and they see a big giant spreadsheet that you left about all the reasons why you’re thinking about changing careers. That could be catastrophic for you. So pay attention to that.

Another simple thing you can do is in addition to sanitizing the office and making sure people don’t see anything, they shouldn’t just make the things that they do see look better. Uh, you can get. Backgrounds for video conferencing software. Sometimes you can get a virtual background where all you have to do is click around in the settings of your VR video conferencing software, and it will superimpose a background behind you, or if you’re really professional and you want to take it to the next level, you can get a green screen and put it behind you.

And then superimpose a really. Awesome looking background, or if you’re like me, you can just lay out your office in such a way that you’ve decided that when I take my video conferences, I’m going to do it here with this background, not here with this background. Maybe there are some issues, like if you’re focused this way, there’s a window behind you.

Which means that when the sun comes into the view of the window, the sunlight lights up the back of your head and creates a silhouette. So all people can see is a really dark shadow of you. Experiment with this, try to find what’s most flattering for you and try doing a video conference this way and then this way, and then this way and whatever you get into a habit of doing do it regularly.

I find that that it’s, it really helps me. That I know whenever I have a video conference, I always put my laptop in the same place. Even if I was working over here, I’ll pick up my laptop and I’ll set it here because I’ve, pre-approved what goes on in the background here. Another thing that can happen, which has never happened to me, but you might have seen some hilarious and really embarrassing instances of online is if you forget to lock your door or put up your do not disturb sign.

There are some times examples of kids running from the bathtub naked into the background of a really important business video conference, or sometimes like my wife might accidentally come into my office wearing nothing but a robe because I forgot to tell her that I’m about to have a video chat.

Whatever you can do to help your family make sure that they stay out of the range of a video. When you’re having a video chat is kind, it’s polite. It’s better for them. And it’s better for you. Please try not to make your wife the one who becomes internet famous for accidentally walking into a really important phone call or video chat with CNN.

Lock your door, tell your family members, I’m going to be on video. Don’t come in here, whatever you can do to give them notice about what you’re going to do is helpful for you. And it’s helpful for them. And again, it makes you look professional and it makes you look like you’re taking this seriously.