Videoconferencing etiquette — Why it’s important

Video conferencing is just like any other face-to-face meeting and should be treated accordingly.  Many are used to audio conferencing, and the statistics on why an audio conference is so ineffective are shocking.

 Here is what people do during an audio conference, (Survey Source – Raindance Communications):

–          70%  Doing unrelated work

–          69%  Looking for the materials discussed in the conference

–          50%  Reading and/or sending e-mail or instant messages

–          37%  Eating

–          36%  Muting the call and talking to someone else

–          27%  Surfing the internet

Portrait of happy smiling businesswoman and colleagues on background, at officeYou cannot get away with any of the above items on a video conference because they will be seen and even exaggerated.  Video conferencing cameras exaggerate everything.  Did you ever hear this one?  “The camera adds twenty pounds to my weight.”  Other exaggerations include our faces.  Depending on how you are framed on your web cam, others at the far end may be seeing you on a 60” flat panel display with full audio.  Your head could be viewed bigger than real life.

Here are some rules of thumb to make sure you have successful video conferences:  Frame yourself properly, so others can see your face.  Make sure there is no light coming from behind you like a window with no blinds. Cameras adjust automatically and will adjust to the light creating a silhouette of you.  You will look like someone in the witness protection program.  Make sure your room has adequate lighting.  All video conferencing systems have a way to check your mic and audio.  Make sure you complete the proper testing before your meeting.  If they don’t hear you, and you don’t hear them, you are not part of the meeting.

With the mechanics of a video conference out of the way, on to etiquette:  Like any other meeting follow the introduction protocols.  Make sure everybody knows who is attending the video conference.  If you are controlling the meeting make sure everybody introduces themselves.  When listening, look at your screen. When talking look right into your camera.  This is critical because if you don’t look into the camera your eyes will be looking off to the side and it will seem like you are lying.  If you are on a multi-site call and using continuance presence, which means everybody is seeing everybody else simultaneously, like on Hollywood Squares, pay attention.  If you start to yawn or your eyes wonder off everybody notices and perceives that you are bored with the meeting and you don’t want to be there.  Finally, if you are conferencing from you home office, wear pants.  Sounds stupid to say, but one of our clients was meeting from his home office with executives in China.  He got up to grab some coffee, leaving the other side laughing.  He had a nice shirt and tie with his boxer shorts.  Remember; treat the meeting like any other physical meeting.


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