Video conferencing has become a popular option as high-speed internet connections have made it possible. It’s an essential tool for distributed teams, who lack the opportunity to meet face to face. It can help reduce extravagant travel costs for important meetings with overseas clients. And these days, even job interviews are conducted by video conference.
Tablets and smartphones have reached the point where they can be used for video conferencing. The technological barriers have been torn down. But like most activities, there is a right way and a wrong way to conduct a video conference.
Here are a few tips to help you improve your next video conference meeting.
Make Sure Everything is Set Up Properly
At least 30 minutes before the conference, you should check that the camera and microphone are working properly, and check your connection. Also, make sure you aren’t running other applications at the same time.
Avoid anything that could consume too much network bandwidth during the call. Downloads, uploads, and OS updates can all throttle your video connection, causing a considerable drop in quality.
A good way to make sure these issues don’t crop up in the first place is to use a dedicated, managed video conference platform.
Choose a High-Quality Camera
Instead of relying on your laptop’s built-in camera, you should use a professional web-cam. They provide better sound and image quality, and will create a more favorable impression.
Don’t Disperse Your Attention
When you’re sitting at your computer, it’s very easy to switch back and forth between different tasks. During a video conference, this can send out the wrong signals. You will appear to be distracted or inattentive. Video has a tendency to amplify these signals, as it lacks the nuances of body language that are picked up when meeting face to face.
When meeting in person, it’s possible to communicate more freely than when you are talking over the phone or on a video conference. People can adjust to quick changes of subject and interjections more readily, and there are a variety of social cues that make this more acceptable.
During a video conference, it’s important to let everyone have a chance to talk without interruption. You will still have an opportunity to express your point of view without causing offense.
Your Surroundings Matter
While you could hold a video conference in a cluttered cubicle, it would be distracting to the other people on the conference. Visual distractions like people walking past or a crowded environment are distracting and a little disrespectful.
Instead, choose a spot with a neutral background, such as a blank wall. Or use a conference room.
Look Into the Camera
It’s easy to look at the screen or something else in your environment instead of the camera. This is the equivalent of breaking eye-contact. It can cause tension in the communication, leading to unwanted meeting outcomes. Instead, look directly into the camera.
There are some video conferencing options that let you simulate a telepresence for each of the people involved. In this case, you have a more immediate feeling of “being there”, and the communication will be more natural.
Send Notes Via Email
In face-to-face meetings, it’s a good practice to summarize the meeting with a brief written document detailing what will happen next. Typically, tasks or responsibilities are assigned to specific people, expectations are made explicit, and there is less risk of forgetting important information as time passes.
Send an email as a digital equivalent, with the same information included. Or use a collaborative cloud platform, such as Google Documents.