Over the past several weeks, more and more people have been learning about and adjusting to working digitally. In the name of physical distancing, the majority of meetings have been moved online, meaning that we’re now attending a ton of video conference calls.
If you’re accustomed to video calls, then you likely know how to conduct yourself in a professional manner. If, like most of us, you could use some tips to improve your setup and demeanor, here are our dos and don’t of video conferencing:
Set Up Your Space
Probably the most important tip is to arrange to have your calls in a quiet and professional space. For this reason, especially if you have kids, many people prefer having their calls in an office setting to minimize distractions. If your kids are stuck at home, let them know ahead of time that you’re working and the space is off limits.
Set up your camera or laptop so it has a clear, unobstructed view of you. Don’t sit too far or too close to the camera – it will just annoy everyone else on your call. Make sure your face is well let with natural lighting being your friend but watch out for backlighting (light from behind you can wash out your appearance on camera).
Also, you’ll want to ensure that your workspace is clean and absent of clutter. To check, open your camera and check what it’s picking up before taking your meeting. If there are things on your walls that some may deem as inappropriate or unprofessional, you’ll want to take these down or choose another space.
Check Your Appearance
The general rule of thumb here is that you should dress how you would for an in-person meeting with this person or group. Yes, working from home does mean you can occasionally wear sweatpants and casual shirts all day but it doesn’t mean you should.
Depending on your camera and/or available lighting, you may also want to avoid bright colours, patterns or stripes as these can be distracting for other participants.
Starting the Call
As a general rule, log into the call a few minutes before (3-5 minutes) to double check that your camera and mic are working properly and that your WiFi signal is strong enough to have the call. Nobody likes it when one person freezes over and over because their WiFi is insufficient.
Once the call has started, ensure that everyone can hear each other. This is easily achieved by one person asking everyone if they can hear them. Do not all talk at the same time.
Turning Your Mic On and Off
If you’re not presenting or speaking during the meeting, turn your mic off by clicking on the mic icon with your video conferencing software. Once off, it will likely have a line through the mic icon, turn red, or both. Your mic can pick up a lot of background noise (kids, a fan, street traffic, etc.) and can be distracting for others, especially the person talking.
Indicate When You Want To Talk
Unlike in-person meetings, interrupting someone while on a video call is likely to disrupt the flow of their presentation. You may also run into the dreaded “No, it’s okay, you go…oh no, no, no, it’s no problem at all!” Trust us – it’s a problem.
It’s easier to indicate when you want to talk by raising your hand, commenting in the chat box area, or waiting until the person speaking is finishished. If you’re running the meeting, it’s a good practice to call on people by name or set the parameters for the meeting at the get go (i.e. “I’m going to present for 15 minutes and then I will go around to each of you for questions.”)
Keep Your Focus On The Meeting
As easy as it may be, you should not do any other work during your video call. This includes reading articles, sending emails, browsing the internet, looking at your phone, or eating lunch or dinner. Doing this is a strong indication that you’re not paying attention to the meeting.
Also, try and look into the camera when you’re speaking. Depending on your set up, looking at the screen may make it seem like you’re looking somewhere else.
Sharing Your Screen
If you need to share your screen during a video meeting, double check that you’ll only be displaying content that you want others to see. This is really important if you’re using your personal laptop and not a work issued one.
Do you have any dos or don’ts of video conferencing? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.