Video conference etiquette: Tips on being a pro in online meetings
MANILA, Philippines – The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced many companies to shut their offices down and implement a work-from-home structure for its employees.
This sudden and unexpected shift has resulted in a lot of the workforce relying on remote working technology such as video conferencing to stay safe while keeping their respective businesses running. When you meet online with friends or do quick, informal huddles with colleagues, you can be more relaxed with how you present yourself through that webcam.
But then there are also those times when you'll be meeting with key clients and superiors, or be in a meeting that just needs to be more serious in tone. For these times, you'll want to actually put on pants, so to speak. Fix your hair, get a spiffy shirt, and make sure technical details are in working order. Here are key things you should keep in mind to have productive, and professional video conference calls:
Test your audio and video gear. Having faulty audio or video can be very disruptive during video conferencing sessions, so it’s important for you to spend some time testing your equipment before hopping on a call. Thankfully, most, if not all, video conferencing services have tools that let you easily do so. You can, for instance, start a test call to see how well your microphone and camera are functioning.
For your microphone, you should check the audio quality and volume. Make sure you can be heard and your voice is clear. It might help to stay in a closed or quiet room to avoid any background noise from being heard. Lock your door. Not everyone can be as charming as BBC dad, and his children and wife.
For your camera, meanwhile, frame yourself in such a way that you are at eye level with the lens and can maintain eye contact with the people you’re going to be talking to. Pointing the camera too low or too high can make for unflattering angles that can be both distracting and unprofessional. You should also pay attention to your room’s lighting. Open windows or turn on lights if you must.
The most basic tip? Make sure the light source is coming in front of you, just a little above eye level. Don't put your light under your head unless you're making that classic "I'm a ghooost" joke.
What’s important is that you’re well-lit enough to be seen on camera.
Check your internet connection. The last thing you want when, say, you’re in a conference meeting with your boss or some possible clients, is to suddenly be disconnected due to poor internet connection.
You can make sure that doesn’t happen by checking how strong and stable your connection is, beforehand, by doing a quick speed test. If your connection is slow, you can try going closer to your router or reducing the number of devices connected to the internet.
While it’s always advised to use home connections for video conferencing, try to have a secondary connection on hand, maybe on your mobile, so you can adjust quickly. That said, position yourself in a spot where that mobile connection is already reliable.
Dress like you’re in an actual meeting. It can be tempting to work in your pajamas, but even though you’re not actually going to be in a face-to-face meeting, your appearance is still very important. In the office, you’re expected to look presentable and professional. It’s no different when you’re video conferencing.
How you present yourself also covers your surroundings. Be aware of what else can be seen in the camera such as clutter or personal items that may not be appropriate for a meeting. Don’t take calls beside dirty piles of laundry or an unkempt bed. Find a decent and tidy spot that will not distract the people you’ll be talking to. Wash away the eye gunk or better yet, actually take a bath before the work day starts.
Introduce yourself whenever necessary. This is essential when there are a lot of you together on a call or it’s the first time you’re all meeting each other. It helps to introduce yourself briefly, before asking a question or making a comment. For instance you can say, “Hi, this is Bernard, I would just like to ask about…” Doing so, makes it easier for whoever is moderating the meeting and helps everyone keep track of who’s talking at any one time.
Mute yourself when you’re not speaking. It’s common courtesy not to talk or make noise when someone is talking. The same applies when you’re video conferencing. You should mute yourself when you don’t have anything to say, cutting out ambient noise, and other distracting sounds that come from your end. Only unmute yourself when you have something to say.
Pay attention. Don’t think that just because you’re video conferencing you can get away with checking your social media feeds while other people are talking. Chances are they can see you, and that they know what you’re up to. It’s not only rude to do so, but you may also miss some important things that get brought up during the call.
The best way to avoid getting distracted is to get rid of all things that can possibly distract you. For example, you can set your phone aside while the meeting is ongoing. If you feel like you really need your phone at some point during the meeting, you can perhaps put it on silent and turn off all notifications. The key here is to treat these calls like actual in-person meetings. That way, you would not be doing what you should not be doing in front of people from work. – Rappler.com