How many video conferencing calls do you have today? With more people working from home the use of virtual meeting platforms has skyrocketed. If you’re new to video conferencing, you may be uncomfortable at first. No worries. These ten tips will provide some guidance, and some confidence, to turn you into a virtual meeting pro.
1. Verify Your Hardware
“Hi, can everyone hear me?” Wouldn’t it be nice to never hear that again? Do your part and verify your hardware ahead of time instead of asking the group to do it for you. Your video conferencing software has a hardware verification tool you can use for a pre-check. You can also do some testing within Windows by going to your Sounds settings.
2. Check Your Video
It’s a bit uncomfortable to look up a coworker’s nose for 45 minutes, so make sure that coworker isn’t you. Verify your webcam is at the correct angle, check your position, and look presentable before a call starts. You can use the Camera app in Windows to see what your webcam is seeing so there are no surprises once you enter your meeting.
3. Check Your Lighting
Bright light behind you? That may make for a comfortable work environment but bathing in shadow will make your co-workers think you’re in the witness protection program. A light source needs to be placed in front of you so people can see your face. A small lamp may do the trick, or you may need to adjust the position of your workspace.
4. Check Your Environment
You may be working from home unexpectedly, but that’s no excuse to show your coworkers or customers a messy room in the background. It’s best to have a dedicated work environment for your conference calls, but if that’s not an option try to make the room as presentable as possible. An easy option may be a green screen backdrop since some video conferencing platforms like Zoom allow for custom backgrounds.
5. Know Where the Mute Button Is
The mute button is your friend – make sure you know where it is. You’ll want to hide that random cough, sneeze, yawn, or sigh before anyone is the wiser. You also want to do your best to mute out environmental distractions as much as possible. Everyone understands the occasional dog bark, but when it becomes overwhelming the meeting participants are waiting for you to tap that mute button. Don’t disappoint them.
6. Run Your Application in Isolation
Running Netflix on your second monitor while attending a video conference and notice poor performance? That could be part of the problem. Make sure your resources on your PC and on your home network are prioritized appropriately. Ask the kids to stop the online gaming and the endless YouTube streams when you’re trying to work. I promise, they’ll live.
7. Have a Plan for Trouble
It’s inevitable that some of your video conferences are going to go south. The important thing is to have a plan and to stay calm during the storm. Before every meeting, make sure you have the number for your tech support saved on your cell phone. When trouble does arise, use an alternate method of communication to notify at least one of the other attendees that you’re having issues. Finally, if you were running the call it may be best to reschedule in a pinch instead of having your attendees wait for you to resolve your technical issues.
8. Know the Rules of Communication
Communicating on video conference calls is a bit different from sitting at the same table with your team members. If someone asks you a question it might help to repeat it for those with audio issues. Recommend that the attendees use the chat for file sharing and links rather than emailing the group while on the call. It’s simply more efficient and will keep everyone from opening their inbox and risking further distraction. Also, request that attendees mute when not talking. That is a common annoyance for all parties when one attendee decides to eat an early lunch or continue typing an email during the call.
9. Keep Everyone Engaged
If you called the meeting it’s somewhat your responsibility to make sure your attendees are involved and that their time is valued. Periodically ask specific questions to keep people engaged and make sure that everyone on the call has a chance to speak. This is one more example of why webcams are a vital component to a successful video conference. It’s much more difficult to hide on a conference call when others can see you.
10. End it in Style
Ending meetings with team members face-to-face often involves going over action items and discussing follow-up meeting times. The same should be done on your video conference calls. If the group is smaller go around your virtual chat room for everyone’s final thoughts and to make sure no one had any additional comments. Also, if the meeting was recorded inform the attendees how they can access the recording and when it will be available.
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