As people try to isolate themselves from the Coronavirus, and all kinds of other threats, video conferencing will probably continue to become more popular. Even when this crisis is over, the convenience of these apps will continue to be appealing for many. With so many people using it for the first time these days, we should go over the most basic “dos” and “don’ts” of video conferencing.
First of all, you should always mute your microphone when you are not speaking. This is especially important in large meetings, where you might go for a long time without saying anything. Background noise can be very annoying, especially when it’s coming from several people at the same time. For instance, if you have a fan on in the background, the noise of its motor will probably be audible to others.
Another good habit that goes along with the first one is to do a mic check before saying something important. It is easy to forget when you are muted and when you are not, so make sure that everyone can hear you before making any important announcements. A simple query of “can everyone hear me ok?” will do.
Do attempt to use some kind of lighting in your video. You don’t need a professional-grade lighting rig, but you do want to make sure that your screen doesn’t look excessively dark. Fixing this problem can be as simple as opening your window curtains or turning on a lamp.
You should also show respect for the other participants by dressing appropriately. As a rule, you should dress and groom as if you were attending an in-person meeting. Some people don’t care about this, as some meetings are a lot more formal than others. For instance, a meeting between friends for informal reasons will not require you to put on your best suit and tie. For business meetings, however, you need to make a good impression and look like a professional.
Finally, we would recommend that you pay attention to the background of your video. People who haven’t met you before will most likely examine those background details, so make sure they look good. By the same token, you can observe others when you first meet them and learn things about them from their surroundings. You want a background that is clean, orderly, and free from anything that might offend anyone. If you don’t have the time to clean up your background, you can use a virtual backdrop or just hang a blanket/sheet behind you.
Now let’s go over some of the things you should not do. First of all, you should probably refrain from using indirect camera angles. People prefer to talk face-to-face, which is why a front camera orientation is preferred. It is best for the camera to be right above the screen, or right beside. Funny camera angles are a little distracting.
You should also refrain from getting distracted during the video call. The participants should have your undivided attention. After all, they are taking time out of their day to hear your words. When everyone is sitting there waiting for you to speak, it is very rude to do things like peruse your phone or answer an email.
Also, you should never shout or raise your voice excessively. When a lot of people are talking, it may be tempting to raise your voice so as to be heard. However, this will usually cause your voice to be distorted, making it even harder to hear what you have to say! Not only that, but it may hurt the ears of those who are wearing headphones. They may even choose to mute you. Apart from that, it’s just rude!
On the subject of politeness, it is definitely best to avoid interrupting people. You shouldn’t be doing this anyway, but it’s particularly irritating on a video conference. Oftentimes, the audio will glitch when too many people are trying to talk at once, resulting in a jumble of sound that no one can understand.
As in real life, you should make eye contact with the people to whom you are speaking. Looking someone in the eye acknowledges that they are important enough to get your full attention. Since they are not physically present, you should look at the monitor so that you give the appearance of eye contact.
You should also discourage side conversations from forming. For instance, let’s say you’ve got three people talking about one subject, and three other people talking about a different subject. This will be distracting to both teams, especially if they contain people with similar voices.
You should also refrain from talking too fast. In many cases, there will be a slight delay between your voice and the speakers of everyone else. This delay might be less than a second, but it’s still enough to cause a little bit of echo. When this happens, it becomes much harder for people to understand you clearly. The only real cure is to slow it down.
You should never play music or watch videos/movies in the background. Even if you don’t think others can hear it, they probably can. Worse, they will hear it in a distorted way. Thus, even if they like the music, it will be very annoying. Even without this distortion, it would still be an unnecessary and unwelcome distraction. Besides, imagine the horrible cacophony that could result if everyone in your meeting did this!
As you can see, most of these guidelines are very simple. In fact, many of them are the same basic rules that you would use for an in-person conversation. If you are a naturally courteous person, you will probably follow most of these rules anyway. By maintaining a certain sense of etiquette, your meetings can be made to go much more smoothly for all involved. If you have found our work to be helpful, we hope that you will fill out the contact form.