When you’re looking to speak to people through video conferencing, it can be a little difficult. You’re not in the same room as the person you’re talking to, so you don’t have that physical presence you would normally have in a meeting. The etiquette for phone conference calls don’t apply, so it can leave some people at a loss for how they should conduct themselves. Learning a little about the etiquette you should practice while on video conference calls can result in a better call. Remember that you should practice these to make sure you get them right.
Don’t Allow Yourself to Be Distracted
One of the hardest things for anyone when they’re on a video conference call is to ignore their cell phone, email alerts, and even other phone calls, according to Inc. Magazine. You may be talking on the call and you see your phone blip to the side and you figure there’s nothing wrong with giving it a check. The problem is that the person on the other side of the call sees that you’re distracted and will get upset. This is why whenever you’re getting started with a meeting, you should make sure that your cell phone is completely turned off, all the way on silent, or even in your pocket. Likewise, you should not be able to see any emails coming through unless you can manage to ignore all the alerts you’re going to receive while you’re on your computer. Since companies like Blue Jeans provide excellent sound and video, you just cannot risk it that the person on the other end will not see what you’re doing. Additionally, you don’t want to be caught with your pants down when you’re asked a question and you don’t know how to answer it.
Show You Care
Take a look at the room you’re planning on using while you’re on the video conference. If the background is a mess, you might want to make a change. You can decide to clean up a little bit, change what will be in the background, or simply drop a sheet as a background to cover up anything that is really bad. According to Entrepreneur, this will allow you to have a professional look and will keep you from showing the people you’re talking to that you just don’t care. In fact, you may even want to add some things to the background to set the stage. If you have any professional awards or the like, make sure they’re on a shelf behind you. Take steps to make sure the people you’re talking to get the best possible impression of you as a professional worth taking seriously. Keep in mind that even if you have an office with a great view of the ocean, you should never have an open glass window behind you. The light coming in from outside is too much for the camera and the person on the other side cannot see you.
Find Your Distance
The distance between you and the camera will have an effect on how you’re going to be perceived as well as how well the people you’re talking to can hear you. The tendency is for many people to lean in towards the camera and get as close as possible. Instead, you should make sure you’re far enough back that the people on the other side can see your shoulders and your entire head. On the other side, you don’t want to be so far back that the people you’re talking to cannot see you at all. According to Emily Post, finding this balance can be a little difficult, but if you’re willing to test out the camera and how you appear on the screen ahead of time, you can get the sense of the space you need to maintain between you and the camera.
Show Up Early
If you’ve ever been waiting to get a call from an important client at a particular time, you know the awkward feeling of trying to figure out what to do. You don’t want to create this feeling in anyone you’re talking to through a video conference call. This is one of the reasons why The New York Times recommends showing up early to the call. You can open the connection and make sure you have all the last minute things ready to go whenever the people on the other end decide to open their connection. Just like when you show up early for a meeting, prepared and ready to go, this will send the message that you’re serious and that you’re ready to get going. As soon as the people on the other end indicate they’re ready, don’t spend any time with conversation, but dive right in. If you follow these guidelines, you’re going to have a much easier time with every video conference call.
I’ve written before about how technology is changing the workplace. Videoconferencing is just one more adaptation to be prepared for.