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Business Videoconferencing Etiquette

Professional Man on Video Conference

Today’s blog was written by Dino Mallas, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) Sales Manager, in the Communications Systems Division of Compunetix. Dino has been consulting conferencing provider customers for over ten years. Contact Dino at dmallas@compunetix.com.

It’s no surprise that there has been a sharp rise in video conferencing during the COVID pandemic. According to UC Today, video conferencing is expected to be a 13.8 billion dollar market by 2023. Between January and March 2020, interest in video conferencing technology increased by 120%. As many knowledge workers have shifted to “work from home,” video gave us some sense of normalcy. In recently completed surveys, 87% of video users felt more connected to colleagues, and 98% felt that video strengthened their relationships.

Obviously, video is here to stay. By now, many have recognized the benefits of Telehealth appointments from the safety of our homes. Other advantages include less travel, costs savings, reduced stress and more. Of course, there are the quirky disadvantages as well, such as embarrassing “family moments” in the background, forgetting to shut off the camera when done, the mental burden of back-to-back-to-back meetings, etc.

Though many businesses and workers have used video conferencing for years, it has become a new adventure for many of us. As we all know, new adventures can bring unique and unintentional surprises. Understanding a little about video call etiquette can take you a long way.

Pre-Video Conference

  • Choose a Proper Location:  If you do not have a home office, find a quiet place with good lighting. Distractions in the background should be avoided, such as laundry, pets, political banners, etc. There are a variety of freely available software products that can blur or alter backgrounds as well. Remember to notify family members that you are about to participate in a video session.
  • Pre-Check your Connectivity:  Prepare in advance of your meeting. Are your camera and microphone on? Is your Wi-Fi signal ok? Are you using the appropriate browser? It can be frustrating to start a call 15 minutes late due to avoidable connection issues. When working remotely, you are responsible for your personal tech setup.
  • Chatter:  The conference begins the moment that you join. There is a tendency among participants to have banter while waiting for the Host to join, or for the conference to begin. Keep in mind that others may already be on the call. Also, many video calls are recorded for future playback. Don’t embarrass yourself or your company with random talk. We all miss seeing each other, but keep personal conversations for a private time. Observing the Participant List may be a good way to keep you in check.

During Video Conference

  • Dress for Work:  According to Fox Business, loungewear company Draper James saw a 1,255% increase in online orders during March 2020. People are dressing more casually working from home but our video encounters are still “business transactions.” Dress for the office, not for home. Ask yourself if you would normally be wearing a hoodie at work, a baseball cap at the office, or sweatpants to meet with the boss. Equally important is grooming. Don’t be the person that everyone discusses after the call as looking like they just rolled out of bed.
  • Body Language:  Eyes are on you. This is not an audio only experience. Bad posture, eye rolling, yawning and snoozing are to be avoided. On the other hand, positive expressions, good posture, attentiveness and alertness can add to the quality of your conference, and keep an audience’s attention. This is your chance to express some positive non-verbal cues remotely.
  • Pay Attention:  Many professionals are used to multi-tasking but typically would not do so in a face-to-face meeting. Catching up with your social media on your mobile while on a video call is more obvious than you think. Eye contact is as important as ever.
  • Be Timely: Tardiness is generally more noticeable in a video meeting than in an audio conference.
  • Utilize Video:  If someone invited you to a video meeting, they likely expected to see your face. Otherwise, they would have scheduled an audio only meeting. Although some studies have shown “video fatigue” to be a recent growing phenomenon, it is best to understand your customers/colleagues preferred means of communication and follow that. On a call with several participants, it can appear unusual if you are the only one with video off.
  • Use Mute:  If you are not speaking, use audio mute. Background noise in a large meeting can be very distracting. If you need to yawn or stretch, use video mute but then come back to the meeting. Also, don’t forget to unmute when called upon.
  • Don’t Interrupt:  Some meetings have all participants in “speaking mode.” This can be confusing at times. Most video products have alternate ways to reach out Such as chat, raise hand, etc. Learn your options and use those most appropriate for the type of call you are on. In a large meeting, it may be good to introduce yourself and then speak.
  • Name:  Unless you are Sting or Madonna, it is most likely expected that you will list your proper first and last name when joining the call. Please remember that, to your clients, you are not “The Rock.”

Post Conference

  • Log Out: As you may have noticed in the news, there have been several stories rotating of participants who thought their video was off and had very embarrassing moments captured live. Shut down your conference. Most cameras have a light to indicate they are on. Make sure your light is off. Use a flap to cover your camera when done.