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Posted on May 20, 2018 by
Video conference calls have added immense value to professional interactions in recent years. Consider the previous reality:
“Hi, who just joined?”
“Sorry, go ahead.”
“Can everyone go on mute?”
Video conference calls not only improve communication and productivity; they encourage attendance and reduce travel costs and, of course, add a bit of face-to-face humanity back into an otherwise disconnected interaction.
But they are still conference calls—and things only get more interesting when video is added to the mix. Because this interaction, while virtual, is far more connected, interactive and . . . well, visual, than your average conference call. While that may seem obvious, I’m sure we’ve all seen many instances of colleagues and clients forgetting the etiquette of a professional meeting while separated by a laptop and a few thousand miles.
What is that video conference call etiquette exactly? Here’s our top video call tips for showing up like a star on your next video conference call.
Check Your Audio and Video
. . . and check before the call. For all of the advances in modern-day technology, there are still inevitable glitches—and you’re most likely to encounter them right as your video conference call begins. You never know if you’ll need to download new software or your computer’s video or audio will stop working. Save yourself the headache and embarrassment of showing up late, and try logging into your video conference at least 10 minutes early. You can also check the positioning of your camera, the lighting in the room and anything else that might inhibit or enhance the way you show up on screen. As a bonus, you’ll be showing respect for your fellow attendees’ time by showing up on time—or, in this case, by showing up early.
Most modern computers seem to have the supersonic hearing of a bat, because a video conference call will tend to pick up every single sound around you. Try to avoid the distraction of background noise by finding a quiet place to take your video conference call. Don’t chat at a coffee shop or in the same room as your family. That’s not only noisy and disrespectful to your fellow conference call mates, your private conversation is pretty annoying to your fellow coffee shop patrons and your shushed kids, too. But don’t just mute your environment—try not to type on your keyboard during the call and mute sounds on your phone. And, whenever possible, put yourself on mute when you’re not speaking on the call.
And yes, I mean from top to bottom. The long-standing “business on the top, party on the bottom” dress code for a video conference call does not pass the etiquette test. Consider the dress code you’d wear to an in-person meeting and dress accordingly on video, too. While no one may ever see what you’re wearing above the chest, dressing professionally makes you feel and act professionally too.
Consider Your Environment
You’re not the only one who should look good on camera; you should also take your surroundings into consideration. While you may not always be able to take your call from the most professional setting—like a home office or a co-working space—you can make sure that your environment is clean and reflects the professional tone you want to set. Check the lighting wherever you decide to take your video conference call, too. If you often take video calls from a room in your home and you find that the lighting is too dark, you can buy affordable lighting options such as a ring light or a softbox to brighten up the room—and your face—on video!
While this should be a rule of thumb for any sort of conference call, paying attention is especially important when you’re on video. Pay attention to whomever is speaking and be prepared to add to the conversation at all times. Keep the fidgeting to a minimum and maintain eye contact and presence. This is not just professional etiquette; this is the respectful way to interact in any conversation. Not only does doing other things or looking other places show a lack of attention and respect for whomever is talking or presenting, you’re also distracting everybody else.
Be Your (Professional) Self
If you treat a video conference call like any other meeting—in-person, virtual or otherwise—then you’ll know to approach the interaction with attention and respect. Following that, just try to be yourself. Calm your nerves, prepare your talking points, follow the video call tips above and you will shine.
What are your thoughts on effective (and professional) video conference call etiquette? Share your tips with us in the comments below.