Former CEO Andy Miller of Polycom knows all about video conferencing, holding the belief that video communications “would change the world” as he’s so often discussed in interviews as the head of the world’s largest independent maker of videoconferencing systems. A survey of businesses in 2017 found that 86 percent of companies planned to use video conferencing as part of their unified communications environment.
Advancing technology has made video conferencing one of the best ways to interact with remote staff and clients, but there is still the human element to consider, which is why it’s becoming more important than ever to educate employees on the do’s and don’ts for a successful video conference.
Get to know your equipment first. Before hosting a video conference, be sure you understand how all the equipment works and how to use it properly. Practice using any apps and tools and be sure the camera is positioned correctly so that it fully captures your head and shoulders if you plan to sit down, or your waist up if you’ll be standing. It should be at eye level on the monitor, with the bottom of the image just above the height of the conference table. Run tests to ensure everything is connected properly from the camera and microphone to the speakers to be sure everyone can see and hear you, and that you can see and hear users.
Know your material. If you’re uncertain about what you’re going to say, the presentation is unlikely to go well as you’ll likely end up mumbling or adding too many “ums.” Speak naturally, but slowly so that everyone not only hears but understands you.
Consider your background. Ideally, your background should be as neutral as possible, with walls perhaps a greyish or bluish shade, without any busy art work. The plainer the background the better. A messy background conveys a lack of professionalism, so do some quick cleanup if there is a cluttered table or desk in view, and be sure that no sensitive information on a whiteboard, or anything controversial like political posters, can be seen.
Look at the camera. When you’re speaking, don’t look at yourself, look at the camera which will make it appear as if you’re looking at participants in the eyes rather than off somewhere else. Act as if you’re meeting everyone face-to-face.
Don’t get caught unaware. Time and time again, people have been caught unaware that their video feed was turned on and said something they really didn’t want everyone to hear. Unintended video footage has great potential for humiliation, depending on the circumstances, and at minimum can be rather disruptive.
Don’t tune out the conversation. Most people would never start having a conversation with someone else during a face-to-face meeting, be it texting, chatting, email or talking with the person sitting next to you. Always focus on the present conversation and never with someone not in the current meeting.
Don’t forget to close out any non-relevant windows or potentially embarrassing web pages. Let your imagination take you to the possibilities here. If there is anything on your computer that you wouldn’t want everyone to see, be sure to close it out before the video conference begins.