The 4 Golden Rules of Video Conferencing Etiquette
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As video conferencing technology makes leaps and bounds forward, distance in communication is becoming less and less of a factor. Calls to people on other sides of the planet are being made every hour of every day, and as video calls and conferencing pick up steam especially in the workforce, it’s important to know how to use these new avenues of communication to your advantage. Whether you’re calling from your office, your home, or even a hotel room, here are some guidelines to being professional in any setting and how to make the best use of being face to nearly face.
Appearance is Key
Part of the appeal of video conferencing is being able to see your conversation partners and be seen in turn. It’s important to be as visible as possible, and therefore, you should be the focus of whatever your video-chat windows. A plain, light colored wall in the background is ideal, like those in stock photographs or ones taken in a photography studio. If this isn’t possible, try to keep it simple. Closed windows or a couple family pictures behind you can add a personal touch without being distracting.
What you wear is important, as well. If you’re conferencing away from the office, Entrepreneur suggests sitting upright at a desk or table to ensure that the camera is at a flattering angle. You’ll feel more prepared and focused, too, especially if you’re fully dressed in professional clothing. Try to avoid wearing a large or highly-visible headset, since they can be a little distracting. Lastly, make sure the room is well lit and that you can be easily and clearly seen. An overhead light source is best so you don’t get washed out or silhouetted by bright lights behind you.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before you try to set up or join that make-or-break call, make sure you’ve tested all your equipment, including the Internet connection, to make sure it runs smoothly. Test runs are great, but not always possible, especially if you’re calling a new client or someone overseas. Make sure your webcam has a clean lens and won’t be moving around during the call. Check your headset or microphone to make sure you can hear and be heard.
Another thing to consider is the software, since the more people you have in a call, the more likely it is that not everyone will be using the same program. For example, if you’re hosting an HD video conference for IT, a platform that’s compatible with multiple endpoints and devices can ensure that everyone who wants to join can.
Finally, be sure that you’re completely ready by the time the call is supposed to start. The more prepared you are, the more professional you’ll seem, and you’ll also be able to spare yourself the stress and panic of any last minute issues or miss out on a call entirely.
Make a Connection
Take advantage of the visual aspect of conference calls by looking at the camera occasionally when you’re speaking. This will let those listening and watching receive eye contact from you, which helps convey the importance of what you’re saying. Of course, it’s not practical to stare at the camera all the time, so try to have the video-chat window as close to your webcam as possible. The closer the window is to the camera, the easier it will be to make eye contact. Even when you’re watching the screen, your attention will still appear to be focused on the other members of the call.
Give it Your Full Attention
As tempting as it may be to multi-task, especially during a group conference call, it’s very important to focus. When you’re video conferencing, even when you’re not the one speaking, all eyes will be you. The Wall Street Journal warns that typing audibly, whether you’re taking notes or messaging someone else entirely, is one of the most distracting things you can do. If you need to take notes, make sure it’s done silently. This can be achieved via taking them by hand on paper or using a muted keyboard, and remember to look up often. Additionally, try to make sure you won’t be interrupted while on the conference call. Put a sign on your door to remind others not to disturb you, and if you’re at home with pets, lock them out of the room to try to keep them from making a guest appearance. And of course, hold off on eating or chewing gum during the call.
Video conferencing is a powerful tool for communication. By incorporating visual and auditory aspects, you can convey your ideas, discuss problems, and find solutions faster and easier than ever before. But, just like any other meeting or interview, being prepared is the key to success. With these rules in mind, you should be well-armed to handle whatever issues may arise. Just don’t forget to smile!
Photo courtesy of: willsong
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