When setting up your workstation, pick a private room with a door that closes for confidentiality purposes.
Take a moment to ‘see what your patient sees’.
A plain, light-coloured wall is an ideal background, as glare from a window can leave your face in shadow.
Make sure your desk and chair are square with the computer screen.
Try sitting back so that the whole top half of your body is in the centre of the frame — if your inbuilt computer microphone isn’t good enough to pick up your voice from this distance, it might be worth investing in a small USB microphone. This type of angle is less intimidating and more familiar to real-life than a close-up of your face, and helps avoid the unprofessional under-chin shot (so familiar to many of us during family lockdown video calls).
Try to avoid using headphones, but if there are issues with sound quality or confidentiality then can be used a last resort.
Make sure your computer desktop has all other windows closed in case you need to share your screen at any point. Prior to your consultation starting mute your own microphone until you’re ready to begin, and consider getting a physical webcam privacy cover for added security and peace of mind.
Once you are up and running in the consultation, be aware of your posture and non-verbal cues.
Remember to look into the webcam rather than at the patient on your screen, otherwise they won’t feel like you’re looking at their face.
Avoid typing whilst they’re speaking — even if you’re making a record of what they’re saying, they might assume you’re concentrating on paperwork from another patient or that you haven’t been listening.
Remember that on many platforms the sound will cut out if you both speak at once, so take your time and ask them to repeat themselves if you miss anything.
You may have to practice and employ verbal techniques to signal that your time has come to an end in order to wrap up the consultation.
Once the consultation has ended, check you’ve terminated the video and audio link before speaking again.
Just in case, you could also mute your microphone and slide the privacy cover over your webcam.