A lot of businesses have been forced to turn to and adopt video conferencing tools and applications for the first time to keep business moving as usual regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zoom, Google Meet, and Skype are fast becoming household names as most professionals who now work remotely spend their hours and workdays with these tools.
Whether you are a seasoned professional or someone new to the remote work lifestyle, it is crucial to present yourself in the best light when you have to meet with colleagues virtually, usually using video conferencing tools and applications.
You may be spending the day in your PJs, but you must make a little effort to prepare before jumping on a business call! Here are 12 dos and don'ts of video conferencing etiquette to help you bring your A-game to work, as you work from home.
Before any meeting, it is important to set aside 10-15 minutes to create an outline or agenda of how you would like the meeting to go. Regardless of whether you are the team lead or not, it doesn't hurt to get ready.
There is nothing more annoying and unproductive than a meeting in which everyone comes in unprepared, and the person who scheduled it has no plan. Agendas don't have to be long or detailed. An outline of what topics the meeting will cover is good enough.
If a meeting starts slow, you can try to engage your colleagues by asking a round of "how are you doing?" questions. Sharing how they're dealing with the crisis and adjusting to a life of working from home can be the perfect ice-breaker and ease you into the rest of the meeting.
Joining in with video adds a human touch to meetings, which can combat loneliness, feelings of isolation, and strengthen team relationships. It is the best way, we have now, to simulate in-office sessions, and see everyone engage and contribute as the meeting goes on.
Joining with video also helps the meeting facilitator know when he is losing the team's attention so that he can get to the point and bring them back into the conversation.
Some teams are bigger than others, and coordinating virtual calls with more than six to eight participants can be a pain. As a meeting facilitator or participant, ensure that you join the meeting on time, and prioritize the most important updates first, so that if people need to leave the meeting early, they already have the most crucial information on hand.
It is also essential to have someone assigned to keep the meeting and discussion on track. Set time constraints and stick to them, allowing enough time for each person to cover what is relevant in their update.
As your team gets used to these virtual meetings, the initially estimated durations may be wrong; but as you get used to them, the estimated time becomes a better guide. Keep it in mind to invite only the teammates who will get value from or contribute to the meeting.
Before every call, make sure to try the video conferencing application, whether web or mobile and test the equipment you plan to use.
Making sure you are prepared before the meeting saves you from being frazzled or fidgety during the call. Make sure that you have a strong signal or internet connectivity. Check that the webcam or phone camera works well, and test your speakers and microphone. You also want to ensure you are online and indeed connected to the video conferencing platform.
There's nothing worse than having to repeat entire parts of the meetings because someone was doing something else, zoning out, resolving tech issues or anything else that made them miss that thing you were saying about the thing. Give your fellow Zoomers the same respect you want when you're speaking and make it easy for them to get their information across. You'll definitely appreciate the reciprocity for this one.
We forget that our microphones can pick up every sound, not just our voices, when we are speaking. Whether you live on a busy street or in an open nature reserve, you should find the most noise-proof rooms around you for your video conference meetings.
It is also helpful to check the lighting in your chosen location. You may want to turn on the lights or pull open the windows to be visible to other participants.
On this note, let's mention pets. We all love ours, and one perk of working from home is having them run around and sneak some cuddles now and then. If your little friend has a tendency to get loud to get your attention or is as clumsy as he is cute, make sure to leave him in a different room or someone else's care before you join a video conference call.
It is already a stressful situation we are in, trying to maintain the usual working capacity while working from home. It may be tempting to check social media, reply texts and emails, or even watch a movie on silent. But other participants in the meeting would be able to see and sense your disconnect, and this can affect their engagement as well.
You should speak clearly and audibly when it's your turn. You can start by asking if the team can hear you, and check that your mic works perfectly.
Whenever you share information that contains a web link or information on the internet, you can type that in the chat or conversation box as well, so that your teammates can easily retrieve and visit the correct link.
Make sure your message is clear and understood by everyone in the meeting and summarize your key points at the end of your time speaking.
The easiest way to keep all background sounds on your end from distracting your colleagues, is to put your mic on mute whenever you are not actively speaking on the conference call.
Even in a quiet environment, you must do this. Also, make sure to turn off the notification sounds on your phone and computer.
Conference calls can get awkward when people speak over each other. Learn to let people finish their sentences before getting into the conversation.
If you have something to say while another person is speaking, you can signal by raising your hands, and then letting them finish their statement. When you raise your hand, everyone can see that you have something to say, and when the person is done speaking, you will have their attention.
Take video conference calls as seriously as you would take an in-person meeting, especially when it is with someone outside of your team, but also within the organization. Wear clean clothes, comb your hair, and wash your face. Dressing shabbily or extravagantly can be distracting to everyone else on the call.
Sight and sound are the two most essential cues during a video call. When you fidget, you distract others on the call, even if your mic is on mute. Just as you would sit (or stand) and stay engaged in an in-office meeting, you should adopt the same habit for video conferencing calls.
Not to mention, fidgeting signals that you lack confidence. To project professionalism and inspire confidence in your teammates, minimize fidgeting, and stay engaged with each speaker's updates.
We hope these tips improve your etiquette and experience in future video conference calls. While we get used to working from home, we can learn these new professional skills that will no doubt stay with us in the future of work.
You must learn to present yourself professionally in virtual meetings. They are part of the new normal, the modern workplace. We hope these 12 video conferencing etiquette tips help you and your team facilitate better online meetings.