Video Conferencing Best Practices: The Do’s and Don’ts
Video Conferencing Best Practices: The Do’s and Don’ts
Working remotely has completely transformed our workforce today, and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a large majority to work from home, which also means a majority of our meetings have become completely virtual.
Video conferencing apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Blue Jeans, etc. have become workforce staples.
If this is your first time getting started with video conferences, you need a refresher, or just want to learn something new or share some tips with your colleagues, here is our list of ten things you should do to succeed with video conferencing.
This doesn’t have to be an uneasy transition – there are many benefits to video conferencing and ways to handle video conferences with grace, precision, and even fun.
1. Be Timely
Treat virtual conferences or meetings just like you would any other professional in-person meeting. Arrive on time to be respectful of each participant’s schedule.
The majority of today’s workforce has moved to work completely remotely in the past month. Be courteous and considerate of everyone’s separate agendas throughout the day by making the effort to conference in at least five or ten minutes before the meeting is set to begin.
If you have a meeting that’s wrapping up right before that, let the next meeting’s leader know so that they have the right awareness and expectations regarding your attendance.
2. Test Audio Before You Join the Virtual Meeting
If you’re new to the art of video conferencing, you should test your audio beforehand. Ask a co-worker if they have time for a test call before you’re supposed to meet everyone, to ensure that they can hear you.
You may have to change your audio settings to accomodate the new software you’re using. Work with your I.T. team if this becomes an issue adjusting your audio input or output settings.
Even if you’ve used your video conferencing software before, when you transition your devices from your office to your home workspace, unforeseen complications can still occur.A test won’t hurt!
This way, you can also test your own vocal levels. If you’re unsure about the dynamic of video conferencing, you may be speaking louder or softer than you realize. Doing a test-run can help you find your optimal speaking volume.
Finally, using a headset or earbuds will also benefit you more than using your desktop audio, as the sound input and output will be more controlled and clear.
If you don’t have a headset yet, a simple headset that you can easily plug into your device can be purchased from sites like CDW, Walmart.com, or Amazon.com for as low as $20. Ask your I.T. team if the headset you want to buy is compatible with your device if you’re struggling to tell before purchasing, and if your company will reimburse you for this purchase to enhance your workflows.
3. Create a Quiet Space
If you’re working at home with kids or pets, or are sitting in your living room or kitchen, you may consider creating an office area to block yourself off from these potential distractions and noise-makers (if you haven’t already).
You don’t want your fellow video conference attendees to hear the sound of your dishwasher or dryer running in the background, pets running around, or kids playing.
Of course, creating this environment will also help to improve audio quality (and your overall focus).
4. Choose a Professional Video Background Setting
When you dial-in to a video conference, your fellow participants will be able to see everything behind you. Choose a plain background to sit in front of.
This doesn’t mean you have to relocate to an entirely new part of your home, but even slightly turning your screen can make a big difference.
For example, throughout the day, you may sit at a desk that is placed directly in front of your bed, but if you turn your screen slightly to the right or left, it shows a clutter-free bedroom wall. If you forget to do this, we also suggest remembering to make your bed at the start of the day.
Making your bed doesn’t just help to prevent “ugly” backdrops from showing up, but reinstil a sense of normalcy and motivation to get going with your day. It’s the small things – making your bed is often the first task you’ll complete in the morning!
Think about the presentation of your video as much as you do your audio quality. Not all of us have offices in our homes, but we can turn any space into something that looks professional or office-appropriate.
Relaxed backdrops should be reserved for casual chats with friends and family outside of work.
5. Think About Lighting
You don’t have to be a video production artist to know when light is unflattering. Of course, being a video production artist does help, but is not necessary for this tip (nor any tip on this list).
To create the best lighting on your face for a video conference call, follow these steps…
Face your lighting – whenever possible, sit facing your light source, whether you’re placed in front of a window, lamp, or selfie light that you’ve attached to your desktop monitor. This doesn’t mean you should stare directly in it, just be sure it’s in front of you and not behind you. You want your face to be well-illuminated to create a silhouette effect and avoid dimming your face.
Use natural light – if you can, use the natural lighting in your home to create the most flattering light on your face. If the sun is out, it’s not only great for our mental and physical health to absorb Vitamin D but create a beautiful self-portrait when we’re video conferencing.
Sit in front of light walls – white or light-colored walls brighten a room, whereas a dark color or black does the opposite. You want the light to bounce off of the walls to create a flattering visual.
6. Dress Appropriately
We don’t blame you for going business on the top, and sweatpants on the bottom, but then remember not to get up during your meeting. Even if you have a casual office environment, odds are you don’t wear sweatpants to work, so don’t wear them when you’re about to tune in for a virtual meeting.
Dress for the meeting. You don’t have to be wearing a suit – business casual will do the trick. Be respectable and acknowledge that this is the professional environment you’re creating a new normal in.
If you have your phone close by or other tabs open on your computer that may become noisy during the meeting, close out of or mute those desktop applications before you start meeting so that it can be uninterrupted.
Alternatively, if you’re completing the call on your mobile device with an app, be sure you’ve muted the apps on your phone or put your device in “Do Not Disturb” mode for the length of your meeting.
Ideally, your phone should be aside and in focus mode while you’re working anyhow. Eliminate all potential distractions while you’re at home so that you can keep your productivity up.
8. Focus on the Meeting
Remember what we said about turning off other apps or muting them during this time? Don’t carry on side conversations/chats while the meeting is going on. Focus on the task at hand and don’t chase squirrels.
Everyone on the call has other things to do, but the time you’ve reserved for this video conference is what you need to focus on at the moment. Be in the moment and be an active participant.
You wouldn’t text other people during a meeting with your colleagues in-person, would you?Don’t do it during a video meeting either.
On the same note, to show that you are focused and dedicated to the task at hand, maintain eye contact with all of those on the call throughout this meeting. Don’t let your mind or body wander. Handle it in the same way that you would handle a standard in-person conference room meeting.
9. Ensure You’ve Turned Off the Video and Audio on Your Call Once You’re Done
By now, we’re sure you’ve seen or heard of viral videos, tweets, and images about people carrying their devices into the bathroom or other embarrassing locations, thinking they’ve turned off their video calling app when they haven’t… don’t be a meme! Disconnect from your meeting when you’re done.
Usually, we know we’ve disconnected from a video meeting when the green light on our laptop camera has turned off and we’ve received a message from our video conferencing app that the call has ended.
Watch for these prompts and indicators.
10. Be Yourself and Have Fun
Doing your first video conference may feel awkward or even uncomfortable at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Throw nerves away, and be yourself. Conduct yourself just like you would in your normal office environment.
While all of these tips are critical, in essence, they all lead to one shared idea – be professional.
Engage your fellow participants. Be active. Be focused. Be you!
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