10 Tips for Successful Video Conference Calls
No matter what kind of business you are in, if you had interviews, office meetings, training classes etc. in person previously you now know that those meetings and classes continue despite social distancing. This is made possible through video conference tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Groups and more. Think of your video meeting the same as a face-to-face meeting...just with a few new things to consider.
You may have already found that there are a new set of guidelines to follow, or best practices to use when meeting through video conference tools. You might not have thought about these manners or this etiquette when meeting in person because it just came naturally, however they are important to consider in our new video-tech age. If you haven’t considered these acceptable behaviors yet, now is the time to learn the new business etiquette or polite manners of video conferencing.
1. Turn your video on whenever possible
When you use your video function, people can communicate better with you. Did you know that experts say between 55%-93% of all communication is non-verbal? That included body language and facial expressions. It’s especially important to use your video function when you are hosting or speaking at the meeting. If you are a participant in a large group, you might have the ability to turn this off – but it shows less professionalism regardless of how many people are in attendance. If you are in a smaller meeting, classroom, or interview - it's even more important to be seen on video. In fact, for some education classes you must be seen on video in order to obtain credit for the course.
2. Dress for success on the video
Do not just plan to stay in your pajamas all day. Would you dress like that if you were going to work? Not if you wanted to keep your job!! The good news is that people can only see your head and shoulders most of the time. That means you can still wear a nice shirt, put on makeup/jewelry, brush your hair and then look great without having to change out of your pajama pants. My secret is that I wear shorts and flip flops many times….but my shirt, jewelry, hair, and makeup are always done! Plus, if you get dressed for the day, your work day may feel a little more normal.
3. Pay attention to your video area
Keep in mind that other people are going to see whatever your camera is pointed at behind you. If you are working in the kitchen, pick up the dirty dishes behind you. If you are working in your bedroom, face your camera away from the pile of dirty laundry. You may even consider “staging” an area of the home to look nice as your backdrop.
4. Be aware of your audio/video settings
Check yourself in the video before beginning
If you followed step 2 above, you likely looked at yourself in the mirror and you are put together. If you skipped step 2, this step becomes even more important. Either way, sit down at your computer, and click to join the meeting. Most video conference systems allow you to view yourself on camera before joining the meeting. Do a quick look – is your hair sticking up, is there food in your teeth? If so, fix that quickly before jumping on the Zoom call.
Check your sound before beginning
Are you going to be somewhere quiet, or in a noisy location? Consider using headphones or earbuds if needed to be sure other participants can hear you. If you are lucky enough to be in a quiet location without distractions, your computer audio may be just fine.
5. Check your lighting
Generally speaking, more light is better. Your video quality will be better when you have light in front of you, not behind you. If you have the ability to turn on a lamp or overhead light that is optimal. If you have natural light from a window, be sure it's in front of you not behind you. If you are going to do alot of video conferences, you could even invest in a ring light. You can find a ring light that clips to your laptop/phone or one that sits on your desk and prices start at under $10.
6. Look into the camera when speaking, or at the speaker who is talking
If you are the person conducting the meeting or you are the featured speaker, looking into the camera will give the appearance of eye contact with whoever you’re talking to. If you are watching the meeting, pay attention! Look at the person who is speaking and focus and be present during the meeting. (Plus this is better than staring at yourself just to realize your hair is sticking up)
7. Stay Muted
If you are participating in a large group video conference, you should keep yourself muted. Background noise and echoes from your computer volume can be a huge distraction. This is especially true if you have kids at home or a pet that makes lots of noise. It can be very hard to be productive when people are talking over each other or with overlapping audio from others.
8. Don’t eat on camera
If your meeting was in person, would you bring your lunch and not share? No one wants to watch you eat (or if your sound is on, hear you chew). If you can’t wait until the meeting ends then at least turn off the video/sound until you are done with your food.
9. Consider your privacy
I have heard some crazy horrible stories about people taking their phone/laptop with them to the bathroom and forgetting to turn the camera or sound off. All I can say is just don’t do it!!! There could be other private things you don’t want to share on camera too. Picking your nose, having kid drama, a family member coming to visit you at your desk while dressed in their robe. Turn off your video, mute yourself, and leave your device on your desk – then deal with the personal issue. When you are done, jump back on promptly and continue the meeting.
10. Stay Focused
Remember – this is just like meeting with people in person, only it’s virtual. Don't do other tasks during the meeting such as email, surf the web, or check your texts. If you are participating in an interview, give the host your full attention. If you are in a classroom setting, give the instructor your undivided attention. If you are in a meeting, don’t make it go longer than necessary. Stay on task, be productive, and you will find that video conferencing gets just as much done as meeting in person.
A few other thoughts on this new age of video conferencing. One is to ensure that only people that are supposed to be in the meeting are invited. If you are the host, you may consider using a password for your meetings or being sure that others don’t have access to your meeting link or meeting ID. Additionally, if you are the host of the meeting and there are unfamiliar faces in the group, you should consider introducing people before your meeting begins. If you were meeting in person, you would start with that same introduction. Another thing to consider is that the host should always be the last one to leave the meeting. If you are the host, be sure that everyone has finished talking and that participants feel they have had a chance to be heard before closing out the meeting. This gives your meeting attendees a feeling of importance and relevance instead of just being cut off when you are done with what you had to say.
If you liked these video meeting/virtual classroom tips, you might also like some additional tips on working from home or tips for being productive while working from home.
I hope that all of these tips are helpful to you. Especially tip #9 above – don’t be that person (for your own sake). Good luck in your new George Jetson's style communication in our world of Zoom!
About the author:
Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country. She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed. She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry. Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/