In the past, video conferencing and video phones were only seen in sci-fi movies. These days, for 85 percent of employees, video conferencing is part of their everyday routine. They take for granted that competitive companies will offer their employees some kind of video communications.
It’s easy to understand why! Video capabilities introduce an array of advantages, including:
- Reduced costs. Businesses that offer video conferencing also see a 30% cut in travel costs.
- Less travel. 70 percent of workers would rather participate in a video conference than travel to a meeting.
- Streamlined communications. 54 percent of employees say it significantly reduces email traffic.
Despite its obvious advantages and rising use, a high percentage of workers are still uncomfortable with video conferencing. One widespread reason is not knowing the basic rules of video conferencing. In fact, only 23 percent of workers say they’ve received video etiquette training.
So here’s a basic crash course in basic video-conferencing etiquette:
1. Test your tech in advance.
Familiarize yourself with both the hardware and software involved in setting up a video conference, like your camera, speakers, and microphone. Know where the controls for these devices are located on your computer or device in case you have to tweak the settings. Call a co-worker before your conference to make sure everything is working.
2. Pick a distraction-free background.
When you test your camera, check out your background for anything that could prove distracting for participants. Clean up any clutter, make sure there won’t be any sudden noises or interruptions, and check the angle and lighting. Sometimes the glare through a window or from a lamp can do strange things to your appearance. Make sure your camera is angled correctly as well. You usually don’t want it pointing up at you. Have it pointed directly at you, at eye-level if possible.
3. Dress professionally.
Even if you’re teleconferencing from home, dress to impress. Don’t try to conceal pajama pants (or worse) under the desk. Something may come up where you stand up without thinking and embarrass yourself. Worrying about a wardrobe malfunction is simply one more thing that will keep you from focusing on the meeting.
4. Identify everyone at the beginning.
It’s good manners to introduce everyone on the call. Even if everyone knows everyone else, make a point to identify each person for clarity’s sake.
5. Avoid multitasking.
Don’t type notes, read, review emails, sleep, or perform other tasks during a video conference. It’s very obvious to other conference-attendees, and distracting to boot. If you have to take notes, handwrite them.
6. Maintain eye contact with the camera.
Look directly at the camera, not at yours or other images. If your eyes are elsewhere, you look like your mind’s on something else. To help with this, when you’re testing your equipment, try to position your camera at eye level.
7. Speak up.
Speak clearly, but don’t shout. This is something else you can prepare for when you’re testing your tech. Check your microphone to see if it’s picking up your voice. If necessary, move your microphone closer, or scoot your chair nearer to your desk, and be sure to talk just a hint slower.
8. Use the mute button when you aren’t talking.
If you don’t have anything to say, hit the mute button. This cuts down on any potential background noise from your end. Just make sure you remember to click it again before you start talking.
9. Don’t leave the video conference without saying something.
If you have to leave the conference for whatever reason, be it technical difficulties or another appointment, make sure you say something like, “Gotta go, everyone.” Simply disappearing from a conference is jarring and leaves the other attendees wondering if you disconnected because of something they said.
10. Make sure you’re disconnected.
When the video conference is over, make sure you’ve completely cut off the connection and close the application before you say anything. Too often, participants will hang up and laugh or complain about something that was said, all while other conference attendees are still listening.