Getting the right teleconferencing software for your meeting is one thing, but if you truly want to have an effective and efficient exchange of ideas, you need to know how to use it well.
Just like an in-person meeting, there are certain codes of etiquette that must be observed when participating in a video conference. While many of these rules are the same whether you’re meeting through a webcam or across a conference table – show up on time, dress appropriately, greet other participants warmly and professionally – there are certain peculiarities unique to video conferencing that require a bit more awareness.
If you’re looking to make your next meeting productive, you need to do more than just send that Roundee link. To help you get the most of out of your next video conference, we’ve put together this short list of do’s and don’ts, ensuring that your meeting is easy, constructive and enjoyable.
Don’t: Just assume your stock speakers and microphone will be up to the task
The stock speakers and microphone on your laptop or mobile device might be fine for listening to music or taking a voice call, but when it comes to video conferencing, you need something a little better.
Many stock microphones and speakers aren’t of the highest quality, often resulting in conversations marred by painful feedback and irritating background noise.
For your sake and the sake of your conversation partners, take the time to do a test call to ensure that your sound system is HD-ready. If you find that it isn’t, consider getting your company to invest in reasonable quality headsets or speakerphones for staff. These inexpensive, simple-to-use devices can dramatically increase the quality of your video conference, delivering audio input and output that’s far easier on the ears.
Do: Test your equipment well before the meeting
All the high-end hardware in the world won’t help unless you know how to use it. Hand in hand with the right equipment comes making sure it works, so thoroughly check your setup before you join the call. Of course, this means arriving a little early, but it’s a small price to pay to know that you’ll be able to hear and be heard in the meeting. If you have a few spare minutes and are using this particular set-up for the time, see if you can run a test call with someone else in your office – that’ll allow you to precisely dial in your microphone and speaker settings, while also letting you assess your camera placement.
Don’t: Leave your microphone on when you’re not speaking
This one’s nice and simple. While it may be tempting to leave your microphone open permanently in case you need to respond to a question, you’ll expose other participants to a lot of unwanted background noise, even with good hardware.
When you’re finished speaker, hit the mute button. Not only will it minimise disruption to other participants, it allows you to exchange some unheard words with any colleagues in the room with you, allowing you to better coordinate your responses.
Do: Make eye contact
While this can seem like a no-brainer – after all, you’d do the same in an in-person meeting – how you go about this is slightly different in a video conference. People who are new to video conferencing will always make the mistake of staring directly at the screen at all times. While this is fine when you’re listening to others, it can seem a bit off-putting to other participants. As most teleconferencing systems mount the camera above the monitor, staring at the screen means that instead of making eye-contact with your colleagues, you’ll seemingly be staring at a spot on their collar.
When you’re speaking, try to stare straight into the camera as much as possible. Occasional glances downwards to check how you’re being received is fine, but practice directly addressing the lens. You’ll project confidence and professionalism in every meeting that way.
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