In recent months, with offices around the world closing shop, countless employees are turning to video conferencing to handle their meetings. However, during such meetings, we can encounter a whole new world of social norms for the digital age. While some are obvious – no wearing gym tops – others require a little more thought to get the correct etiquette.
As such, here are some dos and don’ts to ensure you give off a great impression on a video call.
Before the Call
Before the meeting even begins, ensure your tech is ready to go. Screeching audio, stuttering video or severe connectivity issues can also be sorted beforehand. Most apps will let you test your hardware, including microphones, webcams, and speakers – avoiding any embarrassment and confusion once the call has started.
You can even run a quick call with a colleague as a test run.
It’s important to be aware of the minimum required download and upload speeds for video calls – especially those with more than seven people. Skype recommends a speed of 8 Mbps/512kbps to keep everything running smoothly; otherwise, the video might become choppy. Closing down other applications or cancelling any file transfers will open up your bandwidth, hopefully improving the quality of the call.
Most importantly, be punctual. When the call starts, make sure you’re ready to go. Introduce yourself and your colleagues, and throughout the meeting, maintain a calm and professional demeanour.
Use a Virtual Background
When working from home, you may have been forced to set-up shop in an unusual location. Many people don’t have dedicated offices, and so their backdrops may be a bland wall, a cluttered home, or their kid’s playroom.
Thankfully, Zoom lets you use virtual backgrounds to present a different backdrop on a call. If you’re using Zoom, you can select from any of hello background’s ideas, with hundreds of photos and videos to pick from, including stylish offices and boutique homes. There’s no need to rush to quickly tidy up your home before a call, with these professional backgrounds.
You can also blur the background if you prefer, which can be a practical option if you want to avoid distracting others.
Be Aware of Body Language
Body language is as valuable a tool on video as it is in person. Avoid speaking over one another by watching for visual cues that let you know when it’s safe to talk. A nodding head or opening mouths usually are a sign someone is about to speak.
It’s also crucial to be aware of your body language. Waving your hands around is distracting. Leaning back or rocking on your chair can be annoying. Also, try to maintain eye contact; otherwise, you may come across as disinterested.
Limit Distractions and Confusion
Everyone appreciates the difficulties that come from working at home. But if you do have distractions in the form of kids or pets, try to take measures to avoid interruption. Locking the door if possible, or getting another family member to watch them for a short time.
Muting your phone and disabling notifications is expected etiquette in person: the same goes for video calls. It won’t just reduce bothersome interruptions; it’ll make it easier for you to stay focused on the speaker.
Finally, speak clearly and don’t shout. Background noise from your home or someone else’s, can make hearing each other difficult. Enunciating your words slowly and carefully will make it easier for everyone to follow along. Nor do you need to shout: microphones are pretty good these days, and shouting will only make it harder to hear.