Yes, it needs to be said. Some people need to be reminded how to behave, or they just need to be given an overview of what’s expected and acceptable. And some of it’s just common sense.
Now that everyone has access to a videoconferencing tool on a smartphone or tablet, and many businesses have set up such tools on your computer or laptop, it’s important to review the basics. Consider developing overall video etiquette rules for your business, so everyone understands your expectations.
In the meantime, here’s a list that can guide you through the process.
– Be on time. For a video conference this means that you have checked to make sure that your equipment works and that you’ve logged into the meeting a few minutes before the state time, rather than a few minutes late when it will be very apparent to everyone when you appear on their screen.
Now, knowing that you’re on time, introduce yourself before you speak because chances are that not everyone in the meeting knows you. Assume they don’t and save everyone the embarrassment of wondering “who is that person?” You should also take note of who the other people in the meeting are and their names. Finally, turn off your cell phone and resist any urges to text during the meeting.
– Be aware of any ambient noises. If you’re working from home, be aware of doorbells or dogs barking. Rather than hanging out on the couch to join in the video conference, find a room or a part of a room that is business-friendly and prepare yourself there.
If you’re taking notes using your laptop, be aware that the keyboard sounds can be extremely distracting, so either don’t do it or don’t hammer away at the keyboard loudly. (This can also look like you’re multitasking, so be aware of perception as well. Consider telling your colleagues if you’re going to take notes.)
– Do a “check check” to make sure that your audio system is working, says Ask Men. Do this well before your meeting starts so if there is an issue you don’t have a room full of people waiting for the technology errors to be resolved. This is another reason to make sure you’re on time and that the virtual meeting room is spotless and ready.
That being said, don’t shout. Use the adjustments on your microphone rather than yelling. Screaming will put people on edge, which is probably not your intended goal.
– Take note of where the web camera is, and ensure that it’s not pointing up your nostrils or at the part in your hair, advises GBH Communications.
Also, if you’re working from someplace out of the office, be sure that your background is professional and that you’re not sharing any of your personal life (that you didn’t intend to, anyway) with your colleagues. Systems like Blue Jeans make you easily accessible, even when you’re working remotely.
– At the beginning of the meeting state your expectations and objectives, as you would for any meeting, says Emily Post. Agendas are key for a well-run meeting and that includes video conferences as well!
– With talking can come interrupting. Be aware if you or others are interrupting, as this can be construed as rude. Consider using instant messaging to put questions into a “parking lot” until whoever is speaking has completed their thought. This can also help with eliminating sidebar conversations.
Sidebar conversations can derail the meeting and also cause a lot of white noise for participants. If you are going to use instant messaging to put thoughts into a parking lot, make sure you state that during your introduction.
– Body language is key. If you’re leading the meeting, take note if you’re overly expressive with your hands since that can be distracting, as can a sewing machine leg or any nervous habit. Also, be aware if you’re crossing your arms in front of your chest or putting your hands in your pockets, as this can convey disinterest and secrecy to your audience.
Stay open, look people directly in the eye and talk to them just as you enjoy being talked to. Remember, if you’re looking down, your audience is looking at the top of your head, and if you’re consulting your smartphone, it’s pretty darn obvious.
– Dress for success, says Inc. Even though this isn’t a physical face-to-face meeting, it’s still a face-to-face meeting. And you’re still a professional. Dress for the occasion. The best color choices for the camera are a neutral or a light-colored shirt.
Avoid wild patterns. Also, black, white and red are not the best choices. Alongside dressing, note which jewelry selections you’re making. Avoid bangles and big, clangy jewelry, which can be distracting over the audio. Also, big dangly earrings and shiny eyeglass frames can be off-putting.
– Once you’ve gone through the checklist, the rest is to just be yourself, enjoy the meeting and have fun. Finally, be respectful of people’s schedules and end the meeting on time.