Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or Facetiming; video calls have become the number one way to stay connected during lockdown.
People have come up with inventive ways to use these platforms from both a social and business perspective ranging from virtual team coffee morning breaks to hosting virtual conferences for hundreds of people.
Dialling in to these meetings from the comfort of your own home is great for convenience, but are people getting slightly too comfortable in their approach?
Feedback tells us of hearing dogs barking, babies crying, people eating their lunch on screen and wearing loungewear visible to clients all paint a picture that some people may not be approaching video meetings with the same standards they would in a face-to-face meeting.
We’ve put together some tips to help maintain professionalism and get the most from your video conferencing meetings.
Test Technology in Advance
Using video conferencing is new for many people and with so many different platforms available, all with different layouts and features it can seem daunting and can cause a major hold up at the start if someone can’t figure out how to work it. To overcome this, it’s advisable to determine what platform the meeting is being hosted on, which can be found in the email invitation and then to spend time ahead of the meeting getting used to it and learning the basics such as switching the camera and microphone on and off. If everyone can master the basics, there will be minimal disruption to the meeting caused by technology.
Consider the Aesthetics
People get used to the things in their own homes and would probably never have considered how this may look on camera but if someone is sitting with a messy book shelf in the background, it’s likely that the other people on the call will be looking at that, rather than looking or listening to the speaker. Consider what could be distracting and try to keep the backdrop as minimal as possible. It can also be frustrating not to be able to hear or see someone properly so ensure the room is well lit, the camera is positioned to give a clear image of you and where possible, provisions have been made to reduce the chances of noisy interruptions.
There have been some funny videos circulating on social media of people only getting dressed on the top half and their bottom half, off camera is still in bed. This might work for some people but getting dressed properly and being presentable actually puts you in a different mindset. It changes how you feel about yourself, puts you in work mode and gives you a purpose meaning you’re likely to perform better in the meeting. For many people, work loads will be reduced during this time and it can be easy to feel demotivated. Making the effort to get dressed in normal work attire for these occasions will help boost morale and improve mental health.
Think About Body Language
Body language is much harder to read and convey in a virtual meeting, but it is still important, especially if you are speaking to someone you are not familiar with. Smiling and making eye contact are the most effective ways of engaging with the person you are speaking to, but this can get lost if by looking down to read from or make notes. It’s best to acknowledge if you’ll be making notes at the start so they know why you’re looking down when you do. The positioning of the camera will also help communicate hand gestures and it’s also important to remember not to slouch even if you’re sat on your sofa because your audience can still see you!
Consider Your Audience
Your approach to video meetings will be different depending on who you are speaking to. If it’s an informal team catch up, you may not decide to get dressed in work attire but if you are a guest speaker at a virtual conference your approach would be much more professional. Given the current circumstances, most people will be understanding of unexpected background noise or challenges with technology but when it comes to making an impression and conducting more serious meetings, as a general rule, approach them as if it were a face-to-face.
Video conferencing has been a life saver for many businesses and is a fantastic way to maintain human interaction which is particularly important in the current climate. It will be interesting to see how much videoing replaces face to face meetings as we all adapt to a new normal in the long term.
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