You’ve started to work remotely, and to keep business running as usual your agency has incorporated video conferencing into the daily routine. This is an excellent way to stay in communication with your team as well as keep everyone up to date on current projects.
Some people find it difficult to video conference due to interruptions, spotty internet, and other technical and nontechnical issues. Here are eight tips on how to video chat with proper etiquette and make the experience more enjoyable:
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking
You may think you’re being quiet, but believe it or not, most microphones can pick up minor background noises. Things like coughs, sneezes, typing, even your next-door neighbor’s dog parking can be picked up by your microphone and transmitted through your call. These sounds can be distracting other video conferencing participants and can mess with the sound quality of the video call.
Make it a practice to mute yourself whenever you’re not talking to avoid disruptions and distractions.
- Be on time
This is a standard with any meeting, but it’s especially important when you’re dialing into a video call. Bottom line: Everything is more noticeable in a video conference. When you enter the call late, the added noise from your line may be distracting. This can result in confusion, stoppages, and impede the flow of the meeting. When you’re on time for the call, you can adjust your technology settings faster so the meeting can proceed as scheduled.
- Make sure your technology is working correctly
The worst feeling is when the meeting is delayed due to a technical issue. You don’t want to delay a call with an important client because your video conferencing platform isn’t working properly. Our advice: Do a few test runs beforehand with other teammates. Check all your settings: sound, microphone sensitivity, the whole nine yards. Make sure all of your settings are where you want them to be and the other people on the call can hear you.
- Engage remote participants
You want your video conference attendees to feel like they are truly part of the meeting. To achieve a semblance of an in-person meeting, the other people have to feel like they can participate. “The 2019 State of Remote Work report found that interruptions and being talked over are two of the biggest meeting challenges” (ABC News). Interruptions happen, they’re part of communication, just try to limit interrupting others unless absolutely necessary.
Instead of interrupting, write down you comments and wait until the speaker is done to voice your thoughts. This is a productive and respectful way of communicating that shows the original speaker you were listening and have ideas to consider. Another useful tip when dealing with multiple speakers is to refer back to a specific person when discussing what he or she said!
- Wear work-appropriate clothing
For some of you, this is a no-brainer. Others might have adapted to the work remote lifestyle a little too well. Whatever the case, it’s best to dress professionally when attending video conferences. You don’t have to overdress, but choose something that would be appropriate if the meeting were in person. For an easy reference, stick with clothes you would wear to the office!
- Frame the camera correctly
We’ve all been on video calls where we inevitably end up looking up someone’s nose. When you’re on video, make sure you frame your camera so it feels natural to look at. Some tips: Sit eye level to the lens, and position yourself so that the camera shows from your midsection up. “Putting a camera too low can lead to unflattering and awkward angles,” and it’s important that other people in the call feel like they are conversing with you (ABC News). You want the video conference to feel as close to an in-person meeting as possible, and that means no crazy camera angles!
- Adjust your lighting
Lighting conditions have an enormous effect on your video quality. If you don’t have enough light in the room, your video could come out grainy. A word of advice: Don’t mix natural and artificial lighting! And going back to positioning, you do not want to place the light below your face. You will look like a villain from those early Charlie Chaplin movies. If you want to look your best, make sure your face is illuminated from the sides!
- Look into the camera
Everyone is guilty of checking themselves out in the video feed. As hard is it sounds, try to limit focusing too long on your own face instead of the camera. Since our screens are typically below (or at least completely separate from) the camera, you can come across as disinterested or aloof. Think of it like this: Looking into the camera lens is the equivalent of looking into the person’s eyes when you speak to them, so train your eyes to look at the camera and not at yourself!
Whether you’re new to video conferencing or a seasoned veteran, everyone has been guilty of violating at least one of these guidelines. No one really gives much thought to the etiquettes of video chatting, and the virtual meetings become unpleasant or downright difficult to conduct. Follow these tips to improve not only your experience, but the experiences of your clients and teammates as well.