Today, more and more offices are virtual, and the workforce is spread across all corners of the globe. Virtual work is made possible through the increased bandwidth and internet speeds surging through our networks as well as increased security measures in place to protect communication and collaboration across geographic space. Party conference calls are common practice as is video conferencing, which allows speakers to meet face-to-face through video and voice-enabled communication. Several spoken and unspoken rules of etiquette have emerged as video conferencing becomes a staple form of communication. The following article examines some of the popular dos and don’ts associated with video conferencing today.
Video Conferencing Best Practices
Mind your sound
Even with today’s fast internet speeds and wide bandwidth providing ample video and voice traffic space, sound quality may suffer on a video conference call. If you connect and hear static or choppy sounds, try to reconnect to fix your sound issues. Another way to reduce the choppiness and echo is to use a headset on your call. Often, headsets filter out ambient noise, so your neighbors in the cubical next door are not overheard and distracting to your fellow conference callers.
If it is at all possible, set up your video conferencing call in a quiet space with a door. Test your audio before making the call and adjust the incoming and outgoing volume as needed. You always want to be early to the conference, especially if you’re speaking or presenting because you will need to test your audio. Otherwise, it’s common courtesy to mute your outgoing voice while others are speaking. This will also reduce the chance of disrupting the conference with ambient or echo noises.
Lights, positions, and camera angles
Lighting is vital during a video conference. Natural light can be harsh, especially when it is back-lighting you. This may create a silhouetting effect and make it difficult for people to see you. It’s best if you can position yourself in front of a wall with a light source that points toward you. This will illuminate your face and provide a space for you to hang tasteful but not too distracting objects, such as your company logo or product banner.
Before your call, test the camera angle by viewing the image in the self-view mode. You want your camera to be at eye level, and you also want your camera position to capture you head-on if possible. Camera angles from a seated profile position might distract your audience or be less than flattering.
Dress for your conference
You always want to resist the urge to dress down or in some cases, mismatch your wardrobe during a video conference call. Almost everyone who uses video conferencing regularly, especially for virtual interviewing, has a story or two about the candidate who forgot to wear pants to his video interview. You may be planning on sitting for the entirety of your call but do not take chances and always dress for success.
Along those same lines, you want to avoid wearing loud and distracting patterns during a video conference. Polka dots and stripes can take away from your message just as much as bright colors, such as red and white. Neutral colors, such as earth tones and light pastels are the best worn for video conferencing.
Show your confidence and focus
Often, as you join a video conference, you will have to announce yourself. Always speak with a clear voice that displays your confidence. This is especially true when you have the floor. Speak directly into the camera and do not fidget with your hands or other objects. You also want to avoid multitasking while speaking and while listening. You should show an active interest in your conference by staying focused on the topic and the speakers.
The spoken and unspoken rules of etiquette that guide video conferencing have foundations in public speaking and common courtesy. Most people find they already know and understand these dos and don’ts and can quickly add to these concepts.