Simple Etiquette Tips for Better Video Conferencing
Part 3: In the Call
Remember, you’re on camera
After years of doing audio conference calls, you may have become accustomed to multitasking during long meetings. On video–the fact that you are filing your nails, checking your twitter feed, or making faces when others talk can actually be seen. Constantly looking at your computer display, talking on your cell phone or to someone off frame, typing on your keyboard, carrying on IM conversations, and similar multitasks are the video conference equivalent of speaking too loudly on your cell phone in a public space. Video conferences are much more interpersonal and interactive than telephone calls or emails; attentiveness, non-verbal cues, and facial expressions matter. If you wouldn’t behave that way in a live meeting, don’t behave that way in a video conference.
Avoid unnecessary adjustments
Once the video conference begins, make as few alterations to your camera angle as possible. Certain modifications might be necessary in response to environmental changes (for example, room lights may automatically turn on or off, background or ambient noise may suddenly increase, a presenter in your room may need to be brought in for a close-up) but on the whole, correcting and fine tuning video settings repeatedly during the conference can be quite distracting to far-end participants, and it’s disruptive to whoever is speaking. More modern tracking and production technologies that are built in to enterprise-grade video conferencing solutions automate necessary transitions.
If you’re in a conference with three or more parties, it’s generally productivity-enhancing for everyone if you mute your audio when you aren’t speaking. When you want to speak, simply press or click on the “Unmute” button and make your point, then, when you’ve had your say, return to Mute mode. Note: Muting is particularly critical if you’ve called into a conference over audio from your cell phone, where the signal is prone to static and background noise. Everyone will appreciate your consideration.
It really is “just like being there”
As with any face-to-face meeting, stray noises and side conversations can sidetrack a video conference from its primary purpose. The result can be a virtual assembly that veers off course and into the weeds of anarchy. With the pre-existing near-side/far-side divide of a video conference, the danger of side topics dominating is particularly acute, so if you’re the host of a video conference, just as with an in-face interaction, provide a meeting objective, agenda, and content to all participants beforehand to keep people focused. If you’re a meeting participant and an agenda hasn’t been provided, request one from the host at the outset of the call, and then extend to them the courtesy of your attention.
Part 1: Before Your Start | Part 2: Test It First | Part 3: In the Call | Part 4: Common Challenges | Part 5: Working from Usual and Unusual Locations