Knowing and observing proper videoconference etiquette has somewhat become a nonnegotiable skill for members of the twenty-first-century workforce. The bosses don’t necessarily ask you outright during your work interview whether you know how; you’re just expected to.
Weirdly enough, nobody really formally trains you what exactly videoconference etiquette is. A lot of people think they do and that common sense is enough to get the job done. But as these hilarious videoconference fails tell you, that’s not always the case.
So what exactly are you expected to and not to do during an office videoconference?
This article is a simple guide that teaches you the basics of conducting a successful videoconference call. You can use this guide as a checklist to help you prepare so you can avoid common mistakes and ensure your meetings go with no glitches.
● Don’t Do Other Things
Do not read emails or do something on your phone while in a videoconference. Doing this tells the people on the other end of the line that they’re just not that important to you right now.
● Don’t Talk to Other People in the Same Room as You
Playing catch up with your office buddy on your shared hobby is great, but not when you have to do other things—like talk to your boss. This is just rude and creates an unwelcome distraction.
● Don’t Interrupt the Speaker
If you have some questions you want to direct to the speaker, wait for the person to finish speaking before you say something. You can also write your question down to ask at the proper time.
● Don’t Eat
Perhaps bringing in a glass of water or a cup of coffee during the meeting is acceptable, but nobody wants to hear you munching on a cookie while explaining your visual data through a conference call.
● Don’t Set Up Your Call in High-Traffic Areas
If possible, conduct your call in a part of your house where pets and kids can’t barge into the frame uninvited. Although most employers would understand, it’s your job to keep the environment conducive on your end.
● Be Courteous
Treat everyone with respect. It’s most important when you’re working with people whose native language is not English and may, therefore, have difficulty speaking out their thoughts. Provide scaffold questions that will help them communicate better.
● Mute Your Microphone If You’re Not Using It
The mute button is your friend. Hyperefficient microphones can pick up the slightest noises that can be annoying to the person on the other end of the call. Turn the mic off when it’s no longer your turn to speak.
● Dress Smart
Let people know that you mean business. A hallmark of professionalism is being consistent even in your smallest habits. This includes nonverbal language such as maintaining a clean working environment and dressing up appropriately for a virtual meeting.
● Position the Camera at the Right Angle
The best position for your camera is at eye level. Putting it too high or too low can be distracting, not to mention unflattering. This will also make it easier for you to maintain composure.
● Make Your Immediate Environment Videoconference Ready
As much as possible, keep your walls clean and rid of materials that might be distracting or inappropriate for an office setting. The same rule should be applied to your desk. Keep a system for tidiness.
● Look at the Camera When You Talk
When it’s your turn to speak, look at the camera as if you’re looking at the other person on the line instead of looking at yourself or the person on the screen. It’s more engaging and professional.
● Close Unused Applications
Always think about the possibility of sharing your screen, so close all those irrelevant tabs, and keep only what’s necessary. This will help you breeze through applications instead of potentially going through plenty of personal stuff.
With the rise of flexible work-at-home setups, being able to handle video communication well has never been so important a skill. You are likely going to see your employer only a few times, if any, during the entirety of your work-at-home career, so you must ensure that your primary channel of communication is unhindered.
That means investing in a good videoconferencing tool is a must. While free online software does work, it is prone to technical glitches and not always reliable. Professional systems like the Polycom CX5500 are easy to work with, and your employer will surely appreciate working with someone who is technically prepared.
That being said, always remember that technicality is always secondary to etiquette, so make it a habit to observe these tips every time you engage in a professional call.