Once upon a time, only big corporations and media outlets enjoyed the luxury of being able to video conference live. Today, any mobile device with internet access can facilitate a conversation with people who are oceans away. Video chatting has become so available, and so easy, that we hardly notice how routine it now is. For instance, skype interviews are part and parcel of the job-search process today. Board rooms and staff meetings often feature conference calls with stakeholders in remote locations. It’s impossible to do business without encountering the need to video conference in a formal setting. This makes it all the more important to always be prepared to participate in a video conference without conveying disorganization or incompetence. A few basic preparations can go a long way towards creating the right impression. These are the seven cardinal rules of how to video conference with professionalism.
- Set the Stage:
It’s always a good idea to ensure that the area you intend to speak from is tidy. At the very least, declutter your space and create a background that doesn’t distract from the conversation. The simpler the better. Even beyond clearing out, set up plenty of lighting to guarantee your video feed is visible. A clear image on-screen makes it possible to interact without visual obstructions to the conversation.
- Dress the Part:
If a video conference is being hosted for professional reasons, it’s especially important to treat it as if it were an in-person meeting. It’s easy to underestimate the seriousness of a video conference because each party chooses to stream from familiar environments. This luxury doesn’t change that fact that choosing the wrong wardrobe can put people off. Breaking out that business suit for the meeting communicates a willingness to go above and beyond in order to respect the other party.
- Keep your Info Nearby:
If a meeting with someone is likely to last for an extended period of time, chances are the topics of discussion will require reference to specific records. Scrambling for notes and sources mid-conversation not only looks sloppy, it slows down the pace of discussion and can sidetrack the conference altogether. Well before connecting with someone on video, gather all essential information and place it within reach nearby. This keeps the flow of the meeting seamless whenever it becomes necessary to look-up relevant information.
- Test your Equipment:
No video conference can be successful without functioning audio and video equipment. One-on-one meetings don’t necessarily create any challenges with regard to this issue, but conferences with multiple people in different locations often require added logistics. It’s important to figure out if every microphone, every camera, and every computer works well enough to keep conversation uninterrupted. A quick test-run before the meeting easily prevents the possibility of glitches.
- Secure the Area:
Even with everything perfectly in place, there is one seemingly insignificant detail that many people neglect when it comes to hosting video conferences. Lock the doors if privacy is vital to the meeting. It can be painfully embarrassing to apologize for people barging into a meeting if it’s meant to be held behind closed doors. The peace of mind itself of knowing that one’s immediate surroundings are secure make it easier to concentrate on the video conference.
- Be Punctual:
Being available on time for a conference call is arguably more important than punctuality for in-person meetings. The limitations that make meeting face-to-face impossible also amplify the urgency of a video conference. Being late thus translates into irretrievably wasted time. Always factor in how much time it takes to organize a video conference, then prepare strategically enough to accept a call within 15 minutes of an appointed time.
- Be Conversational:
One of the most common mistakes that people make when video conferencing is treating their call as if they’re watching TV. They begin to display passive habits such as leaving the room to attend to random issues or frequently looking away from the people on-screen. Establishing an interpersonal connection is equally as important during a video call as it is face-to-face. Always make an effort to be attentive, maintain eye-contact and actively listen to everyone involved in a video conference.
Video conference etiquette is all about self-awareness. The most important thing is to treat conversations that happen on video with equal respect as those that happen in person. As long as interaction is respectful and focused, there shouldn’t be any hindrances to a satisfactory experience with this mode of communication. Check out more of RISE Programs’ Blogs for helpful advice on business, and remember to spread the word by sharing this post.
Author: Daniel Otianga