Video Conferencing Etiquette: Eight Do’s and Don’ts of Video Conferencing

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In the era of remote work and digital communication, video conferencing has become a staple in our daily routines. It is thereby pivotal to understand and implement effective video conferencing etiquette to maintain professionalism, foster clear communication, and create a respectful virtual environment. This guide will delineate eight key do’s and don’ts of video conferencing, equipping you with the necessary tools to ace your next virtual meeting.

Preparing for a Video Call

Preparation is key for a successful and effective video call. Ensuring that you have the right tools and environment can significantly enhance the quality of your virtual interactions. Vital factors include a reliable internet connection, a functional microphone, clear audio output, and a quiet setting to minimize background noise. 

It’s worth remembering that the more prepared you are, the more confident and professional you’ll appear during the conference call. The following points will delve into the finer details of preparing for a video call, ensuring you’re well-equipped for your next digital meeting.

Test Your Technology is Working Correctly

Before you join a conference call, it’s crucial to test your technology to ensure it’s working correctly. This involves confirming that your microphone is functioning well and can pick up your voice clearly without any distortion. Pay special attention to minimising any background noise, which can be distracting and disrupt the flow of the meeting. 

Use tools like noise-cancelling headphones or software to mitigate this issue. Ensure that your internet connection is stable, as a poor or fluctuating connection can lead to disconnections or unsettling lags during the meeting. By doing a test run, you can address any issues beforehand, ensuring a smooth and efficient conference call.

Camera Check-up: Ensure a Clean Background Setup and Good Lighting

When it comes to video conferencing, camera setup is of utmost importance. Your background should be clean and free from any distractions. It’s best practice to choose a neat, non-personal space with a neutral background. This not only keeps the focus on you but also maintains your privacy.

Equally crucial is good lighting. Aim for a well-lit room, preferably with natural light, as it enhances your video quality, ensuring you appear clear and visible. If natural light isn’t an option, consider investing in a good quality desk lamp or a ring light, positioning it in front of you for the best results.

Finally, remember to position the camera at eye level for a flattering angle. This ensures you are ‘meeting the gaze’ of your colleagues, promoting better engagement and interaction. Working from home has its challenges, but with the correct camera setup, you can maintain a professional image during your video calls.

Make Sure to Use High-quality Audio & Video Equipment

The quality of audio and video can significantly influence the effectiveness of a video conference. As such, investing in high-quality equipment is crucial. Use a headset with a noise-cancelling microphone to ensure clear, crisp audio. This will minimise distracting sounds and help keep the focus on your voice. When it comes to video, consider a high-resolution webcam that provides clear and sharp video. Poor video quality can be distracting and can hinder effective communication.

Furthermore, always make sure your devices are updated with the latest software versions for peak performance. Remember, high-quality audio and video equipment isn’t a luxury in today’s digital age, it’s a necessity for seamless and professional virtual meetings.

When conducting video conferences in meeting rooms, the quality of audio and video equipment becomes even more crucial. In these settings, a standard headset and webcam may not suffice. Instead, consider high-quality speakerphones, conference cameras, or even professional video conferencing systems. These devices are specifically designed for group settings, capturing clear audio and video from multiple people in a room.

Moreover, check the acoustics of the meeting room. If you’re in a room with a lot of echo, it can significantly degrade the audio quality. Using acoustic panels or other sound-absorbing materials can help to improve the acoustics.

In terms of video, ensure that the camera covers the entire meeting room. Everyone should be visible to remote participants. Also, pay attention to lighting as poor lighting can lead to low video quality. You might need to add additional lighting, especially if the room is large.

Investing in high-quality audio and video equipment for your meeting rooms ensures that everyone is heard and seen clearly, fostering effective communication and collaboration during video conferences. Remember, in video conferencing, quality is key.

video conferencing

DO Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips

1. Show Up On Time

Just as in in-person meetings, punctuality plays a vital role in video conferencing. Showing up on time demonstrates respect for the other attendees time and schedules, setting a professional tone for the meeting. To ensure punctuality, make it a habit to join the video conference call a few minutes in advance. 

This allows you ample time to deal with last-minute technical glitches if any, and also provides a moment to gather your thoughts before the meeting starts. Remember, running late to a video conference can disrupt the flow of the meeting and potentially delay important discussions, which is why punctuality is essential in maintaining efficient and respectful communication.

2. Dress to Impress

Even though you’re participating in a video chat from the comfort of your home or a remote location, it’s important to maintain a professional appearance. Dress appropriately as if you were attending the meeting in person. Avoid overly casual attire and opt for clothing that is neat, clean, and suitable for your work environment. Remember, your appearance is a reflection of your professionalism. 

Moreover, certain colours or patterns can be distracting on camera, so choose solid, neutral hues that appear well on video. Lastly, ensure your grooming is impeccable. Appearing well-dressed and groomed not only enhances your visual presentation but also boosts your confidence, allowing you to make a positive impression during your video conference.

3. Mute Yourself When Not Speaking

While it’s important to be audible when you’re speaking, it’s equally crucial to mute yourself when you’re not. This prevents any unintentional background noise from interrupting the meeting. Whether it’s a barking dog, a ringing phone, or rustling papers, such sounds can be distracting for other participants. 

Moreover, muting yourself when you’re not speaking is considered good video conferencing etiquette as it shows respect for the speaker and allows them to be heard clearly without any disruptions. So, don’t forget to mute your microphone when you’re simply listening. However, do remember to unmute yourself when it’s your turn to speak!

4. Make Virtual Eye Contact

Making virtual eye contact is a key aspect of effective video conferencing etiquette. It creates a sense of engagement and connection with other participants, similar to how direct eye contact operates during in-person meetings. To facilitate this, always look at the camera, rather than your screen, when speaking. 

By doing so, you give the impression of making eye contact with the other participants, which can make your communication more personal and impactful. It can be tempting to watch yourself or others on the screen, but remember, the camera is where your eyes need to focus during your turn to speak. This small, but significant, detail can greatly improve your virtual meeting etiquette and overall video conferencing experience.

DON’T Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips

1. Don’t Multitask and Get Distracted

While it might be tempting to multitask during a video conference, it’s a habit that should be avoided. Multitasking can not only distract you from the main discussion but also appear disrespectful to the speaker. Actions like checking emails, browsing on another tab, or texting can easily divert your attention and make you miss out on important points or discussions. 

Moreover, these actions can often be seen and heard by other participants, which can be disruptive and unprofessional. Therefore, keep your focus solely on the meeting. Close unnecessary tabs, put your phone away and pay full attention to the speaker. Remember, being present and engaged in a video conference demonstrates your professionalism and respect for other participants’ time and contribution.

2. Don’t Talk Over Others in the Call

One of the prime rules of video conference etiquette is not to talk over others during the call. It’s essential to allow the speaker to finish their point before you begin speaking. Interrupting or talking over someone can create confusion and miscommunication, making it difficult for participants to follow the conversation. 

To avoid such situations, use the ‘raise hand’ feature or type your question into the chat box and wait for your turn to speak. Remember, effective communication is all about listening as much as speaking and respecting this rule can lead to more productive and harmonious video conferences.

3. Don’t Mumble – Speak Clearly & Directly

Speaking clearly and directly is critical to effective video conferencing. Mumbling or speaking too softly can lead to miscommunication and confusion among participants. Remember, the goal is to convey your message as concisely and clearly as possible. To ensure you are heard and understood, speak slowly and enunciate your words. Try to maintain a steady and reasonable volume, so your voice is not too loud or too soft. 

If you’re presenting or sharing important information, consider using visual aids like slides to support your speech. This not only helps maintain all participants’ attention but also aids in understanding, particularly for those who may have a harder time hearing or understanding spoken language. Lastly, always check with other participants to ensure they can hear you clearly. Remember, clear and direct communication is key to a successful video conference.

4. Don’t Move Around Too Much

Excessive movement during a video conference can be highly distracting for other participants. When you’re on camera, try to limit your physical movements to a minimum. Abrupt motion or shifting your position too frequently can cause your camera to refocus, creating a disruptive visual experience for other participants. Moreover, walking around with your device during the call is not only unprofessional but can also lead to audio issues. 

So, make sure you frame your camera in a comfortable, stable position before the meeting commences, ideally with your face centred and clearly visible. It’s especially important to remain relatively still while speaking, to maintain focus and clarity. Remember, your actions on camera can significantly impact the effectiveness of the communication during a video conference.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Video Conferencing Software

Choosing the right video conferencing software plays a critical role in facilitating effective and efficient virtual meetings. Different platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet, offer varying features that cater to diverse needs. When selecting a video conferencing tool, it’s crucial to consider factors such as ease of use, reliability, audio and video quality, and security measures. For instance, a platform with high-definition video and clear audio ensures proper video and voice transmission, creating a seamless communication experience. 

Additionally, functionalities like screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, breakout rooms, and recording capabilities can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your meetings. Always remember, that the right video conferencing software can drastically improve your virtual communication experience, promoting productive meetings and fostering better professional relationships.

Extra Video Call Etiquette Tips for Your Next Video Meeting

Choose an Easy-to-Use Video Conferencing Solution Platform

When hosting a video conference, choosing an easy-to-use platform is crucial. The software should be user-friendly and intuitive, even for less tech-savvy individuals. This will ensure smoother meetings, as participants won’t struggle with technical issues or the platform’s navigation. Consider platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, which are renowned for their user-friendly interfaces and comprehensive features. 

A good video conferencing solution will provide a clear video feed, stable connection, and additional features like screen sharing and recording, all accessible through a neatly organised interface. By choosing the right tool, you can facilitate effective communication and collaboration, ensuring your meetings are as productive as possible.

Record Your Video Conference

Recording your video conference can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. For those who may have missed the meeting, they can review the recorded session at their leisure. This is also useful for meeting participants who may want to revisit certain discussions or points raised during the conference. Furthermore, having a recorded copy of the meeting can assist in transparency and accountability, as all decisions and discussions are documented for future reference. 

However, it’s crucial to seek consent from all participants before recording, to respect privacy and comply with legal requirements. Many video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams provide built-in recording features, making the process straightforward. Remember, choosing the right video conferencing solution that offers simple and reliable recording capabilities can significantly enhance your virtual meetings.

Observe the Participant Interaction Ground Rules

Just like in-person meetings, video conferences function best when participants observe a certain set of ground rules for interaction. Firstly, it’s crucial to respect the speaker and refrain from interrupting when someone else is speaking. The ‘raise hand’ feature or typing into the chat box are effective ways of signalling your desire to contribute without disrupting the flow of conversation. Secondly, keep your microphone on mute when you’re not speaking to prevent background noise from interfering with the meeting. Thirdly, remain engaged and attentive during the meeting, reacting appropriately to comments or presentations. 

Using the reaction buttons available on most platforms, like thumbs up or clapping, can provide valuable feedback without causing verbal interruptions. Fourthly, respect the agenda and stay on topic. Deviating from the planned discussion points can lead to inefficiency and confusion. Lastly, maintain professionalism at all times, both in your demeanour and your environment. Remember, respectful and considerate interaction is the cornerstone of a successful video conference.

Leave Room for Questions

At the end of your video conference, it’s essential to reserve some time for questions and comments from the meeting attendees. This opportunity allows for further clarification of any presented points and fosters open discussion, which may lead to the generation of new ideas or solve pending issues. Participants should feel comfortable voicing their thoughts, making the meeting a two-way communication process. 

Furthermore, an active Q&A session promotes an inclusive environment, indicating that everyone’s input is valued and considered. However, good etiquette implies managing this segment efficiently to avoid it extending the meeting excessively. Remember, a well-structured meeting that values the attendee’s input can significantly enhance the productivity of your video conference.

F.A.Q.s

What colour should I wear for a video conference?

The choice of colour to wear for a video conference can subtly influence the overall impression you project during the meeting. Generally, it’s advisable to opt for solid, neutral colours such as blues, greys, or pastels. These tones appear well on camera and do not distract. 

Avoid busy patterns or stark colours like pure white or black, as these can cause issues with the camera’s exposure or simply be too distracting. Also, wearing excessively bright or neon colours might overly draw attention to your clothing, rather than you as a speaker. Remember, the goal is to appear professional and allow the focus to rest on the content of your speech, not your attire.

How do I stop being nervous on video calls?

Feeling nervous during video calls is a common experience for many, especially when you’re not accustomed to being on camera. However, there are several strategies you can adopt to alleviate this anxiety. Firstly, preparation is key. Familiarise yourself with the video conferencing platform beforehand and ensure your technology is working properly. Knowing you are well-equipped to handle the call can boost your confidence. Secondly, practice makes perfect. The more you participate in video calls, the more comfortable you will become. 

Consider rehearsing before a big meeting, perhaps with a friend or family member. Thirdly, remember to maintain eye contact by looking at the camera, not your own image. This can make the interaction feel more personal and less daunting. Lastly, don’t forget to breathe. Deep, slow breaths can help reduce stress and keep you focused. Remember, everyone on the call is in the same situation as you are, so try to relax and participate as you would in a face-to-face meeting.

How long should a virtual meeting be?

The duration of a virtual meeting should ideally be kept as concise as possible, often aiming for somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes. This timeframe respects participants’ schedules and maximises attention spans. Prolonged meetings can lead to ‘Zoom fatigue’, reducing the productivity of the session. However, the length can vary depending on the nature of the online meeting. 

If more time is required, consider scheduling short breaks to give attendees a chance to rest and recharge. It’s crucial to establish an agenda beforehand and stick to it, ensuring the meeting stays on track. Remember, effective online communication values both quality and efficiency, with the goal being to achieve the meeting’s objectives in the most time-effective manner.