Wednesday, December 12, 2012

5 Things You Should Never Do on a Video Conference or Online Meeting

Video conferences and online meetings are a great way to improve efficiency and boost productivity, and with Skype and Apple's FaceTime becoming rather ubiquitous, their use is skyrocketing even for personal use.

By eliminating the need to gather attendees in one location, you can collaborate, pitch and discuss issues with people from around the globe from the comfort of your office, hotel room or virtually any location with Internet access. With the ease of access these technologies offer, it is easy to make mistakes in your web conferences.

These five mistakes are common but simple to avoid.

1. Never appear less than professional
Appearance is just as important to online meetings as face-to-face meetings. A professional appearance helps to command attention, establish a professional tone to the meeting and show your interest and commitment to the proceedings. Proper attire for the meeting is no different from traditional meeting attire in many cases. If possible, check how your clothing looks on camera prior to the meeting. Bright colors or complex patterns can often cause problems with video quality.

2. Never forget to setup your conference environment
When establishing a conference is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, it is easy to neglect the set up process. Be sure to remove any confidential materials from the viewing area prior to the start of the meeting. Also, be sure to have anything you might need ready and within reach of your station. Finally, be sure that any co-workers know that you are involved in a conference and should not be disturbed. This will allow the meeting to flow smoothly and improve engagement with attendees.

3. Never forget to mute your microphone when needed
Most video conference software and hardware provide easy ways for you to mute your microphone. With the sensitivity of many microphones, even a murmured comment may be broadcast clearly to everyone in attendance. This is also useful for the unexpected cough or if you must type or shuffle through papers. Just keep in mind that a mute button will not interrupt the video feed in most cases. Just because the other members of the meeting cannot hear you does not mean they cannot see what you are doing.

4. Never forget to let attendees contribute
Since there is no body language or other signals for you to notice from meeting members, it is especially important to remember to provide interactive moments. This will promote involvement from attendees and ensure that questions or suggestions are fielded promptly. Instead of using long monologues or complex presentations, try to break things down into smaller, logical sections. The pauses between these sections will help to improve both interactivity and the flow of the meeting.

5. Never forget to establish rules and communication standards
Even with the newest camera systems and technologies, video conferencing lacks many of the social nuances of traditional conferencing. By establishing rules and communications standards for the meeting, you can help to improve productivity and keep the meeting moving. Basic examples would be introducing major speakers at the start of the meeting and requiring non-frequent speakers to identify their name and location. Introducing support staff or technicians can also help to prevent confusion should you need assistance during the meeting. Verbally identifying when you are finished speaking can also help those attending by phone to interact without interrupting.

About the author: Steven Chalmers has written expert articles for the tech industry for many years. When he’s not busy offering poignant opinions, you can find him reviewing video conferencing companies such as Intercall. Visit Intercall’s site here.