5/6/2020

Video Conferencing at Home [Rules & Etiquette]

With the majority of industries relying on virtual meeting solutions these days, it’s important to keep some key video conferencing rules in mind. 

Even if you haven’t experienced video meetings for work, school or life yet, you’ve at least seen social media shares from when it goes wrong. Maybe it’s an awkward screenshot or a viral clip of someone who, in the middle of a news segment, is interrupted by a child or pet, which throws everything off. 

While it’s funny to watch other people struggle, there is a basic etiquette of video conferencing you can implement to avoid such mishaps. These video conferencing rules will ensure you put your best foot forward and present yourself as a professional, even if your virtual working setup isn’t as neat and tidy as you’d like it to be.

Here are some before, during and after video conferencing rules. For people well versed with audio conferencing calls, many of these tips will act as good etiquette reminders. Regardless of your experience level, these steps will allow you to put your best foot forward.

Before the call: test your tech ahead of time 

There’s nothing worse than experiencing equipment issues when you’re supposed to be in a meeting. You can avoid technical glitches by installing the software and testing it ahead of time. 

During the test here are a few things to verify.

• Make sure your microphone and video work properly

• Check your background and confirm it is work appropriate

• Ensure you’re happy with how your clothing and hair look on video

• This is also a good time to get your light right, adjust your camera frame settings and make sure your Internet connection is strong and stable 

When you test your tech and settings ahead of time you won’t be caught unprepared.

During the call: practice the etiquette of video conferencing

While participating in a video call can be more casual than an in-person meeting, there are still a few best practices to follow. This allows you to demonstrate proper etiquette and respect to the other participants.

• Mute yourself when you’re not speaking

Your microphone can pick up background noises, which can be distracting to others. When possible, mute your mic. Just remember to unmute it when you want to speak.

• If you’re interrupted during your meeting, turn off your video

While it may not be possible to avoid family members or pets making an unexpected cameo, you can mitigate the distraction by turning off your video as soon as possible. Once you’ve resolved the interruption, reconnect your video.

• Be on time

Just like any other meeting, exhibit your professionalism by being on time, or early, to your video conferences. 

• Stay engaged for the entire meeting

Even when you’re not speaking, avoid multi-tasking and continue looking into the camera. This will show your colleagues that you’re paying attention and listening to the conversation.

• Close any programs that may compete for bandwidth or memory

One of the biggest frustrations in any video conference call is when a feed becomes garbled or freezes. By closing all non-essential programs and documents, this allows your computer to focus all its processing power on your meeting.

• Have your documents ready ahead of time

If you need to share your screen during the call make sure to have pertinent documents open and organized and everything else closed.

• Be brief and avoid interrupting

When speaking during a call, keep your comments to the point and wait until a natural break in the conversation to speak up. 

After the call: be a good guest

Once you sign off the video conference, review your notes and highlight any action items assigned to you. Commit to following through on them as soon as possible. If you enjoyed the call, reach out after the meeting and let the organizer or presenter know. This is both a good networking strategy and a polite thing to do.

Although there isn’t an official golden rule of video conferencing, it’s best to remember when you’re on video you’re visible to everyone even when you’re not speaking. Or as Hiscall, Inc. puts it, everyone can see you, all the time.

While virtual meetings may feel casual, they shouldn’t be treated as such. By following these simple video conferencing rules, you’ll come across as a competent professional, no matter your location.

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