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Videoconferencing and Etiquette

6. April 2020

Video conferences will soon become one of the most important work communication channels due to the many limitations of the situation today. And so, even those who have up to now not been forced to use them or consciously tried to avoid them just like me, will have to come to accept them. It is therefore appropriate to learn how to avoid getting into an awkward situation in a working meeting on the screen.

 

What can you expect and what cannot be avoided if you are to participate in a video conference?

  1. Agree on an exact time and make sure you are not delayed. If you know you will be late, try to apologize as soon as possible.
  2. As an organizer, keep in mind that the smaller the number of participants, the easier it will be to keep everyone’s attention.
  3. Make sure you have a good connection, and all the necessary programs and devices (cameras, microphone, speakers, etc.) required for videoconferencing are installed and that the entire videoconferencing system works flawlessly. Test it in advance.
  4. Select a software system that can be used without extensive training.
  5. Whether you are an organizer or a participant, if you are connecting from a computer that you do not use regularly, make sure you know how to work with it.
  6. Set up somewhere where there is enough light. Personal experience has taught me that if you try to hide somewhere in the dark to avoid being seen too well, the computer’s camera will you into a zombie-like creature. Surprisingly, the more light, the more beautiful you are on camera. I still don’t understand how that is, but it’s a fact. Natural side lighting is usually the most flattering.
  7. Remember that the camera captures your surroundings as well. So, if, for example, the kitchen has turned into your temporary office, then make sure that the conference participants do not see more than is necessary. So that they do not start to salivate at the sight of your homemade strudel, which you‘ve just taken out of the oven, or, on the other hand, are not put off by a pile of dirty dishes, which has accumulated there over the past few days.
  8. Adjust your face to the camera. Be careful that the camera does not only capture your forehead and receding hairline, or show you from an upward angle, providing a detailed picture of your second chin or detailed information on the condition of your oral cavity.
  9. Look at the camera. If you look at the screen, it looks as if you are looking away and not paying enough attention to those involved. Remember that looking into the camera is equivalent to looking into the eyes of the person you are speaking to.
  10. Dress appropriately. You don’t have to wear a suit or heels, but casual work clothes would be good. Concentrate even on the lower body. You may be seated behind the table, and not seen completely by the camera, but many who’ve not taken this seriously enough, have paid dearly for their casualness. The boss may ask you to get up and bring some materials from another room, and when you get up to do so, your loud, mismatched socks and silly-looking lounge pants will become a legendary joke among your colleagues for a very long time to come.
  11. If the connection fails on the first attempt, try again in a minute or two. Don’t give up!
  12. If someone who is not familiar to the others joins in the conference call, the conference organizer should introduce that person immediately.
  13. Establish at the beginning how long everyone can speak.
  14. During the first minutes of the conference, the organizer should briefly summarize its content and set its goals. Each participant should know their role.
  15. If anyone joins later, the organizer should briefly inform them at the end of the call about everything he or she missed.
  16. Speak in short sentences, and if you’re finished speaking, take a noticeable break so that others understand that they can now say their piece. Don’t jump in when others are speaking!
  17. Do not move around too much so as not to distract those who are watching you.
  18. If you are not currently speaking, mute your microphone. Your partner might come into the room and say something like: “Your lunch is getting cold, when in the heck is your boss going to let you go, you were supposed to end a long time ago.” This would probably not be the ideal information for your management to hear. In addition, today microphones pick up a lot, so even if your partner doesn’t interfere with the conference, everyone involved can hear, for example, your hamster crunching on a treat or some surely clean hip hop music resonating from one of your children’s rooms.
  19. Don’t check your phone or e-mails during the conference, just pay attention to the conference. Keep in mind that you are still on camera and hot mike, like on the red carpet. Big brother sees everything. What’s more, the statistics uncompromisingly argue that only 3% of us can devote ourselves efficiently to more than one thing at a time.
  20. As an organizer, five minutes before the end of the call, notify everyone that the conclusion is near and open the discussion to questions.
  21. When you have finished, send the minutes of the conference to everyone via e-mail.

 

And to conclude, here, according to the experts, are the three most frequent sins you should pay attention to:

  • Do not interrupt when someone else is speaking.
  • Do not do other things while you’re on the conference call.
  • Turn off your microphone when you’re not speaking.

 

I wish us all to reach the same level of understanding during videoconferencing, that we achieve at personal meetings, and I hope their era does not last too long, and that we all look good on the screen. 😊

 

 

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