Video conferencing has long gone beyond the realm of casual conversions. It is now a staple of everyday business communications for companies all across the globe. Like any official event, video conferences have their special etiquette. Let’s discuss the essential rules in this article.
Video Conferencing Planning
It is no secret that you need to plan and organize a video conference far in advance. If possible, it’s best if your participants know the event’s time, date, and program at least two weeks in advance. Do not forget to account for the differences in time zones.
However, even for ad hoc business meetings, you should try to give your attendees at least a couple of hours for preparation. If the world is not going to end in the meantime, this extra time will make your event more productive and effective.
If there are some extra materials (white papers, case studies) participants, need to read, send them as early as possible. Don’t make sporadic changes in the content plan. Nobody wants to read 30 pages of business analysis only to discover that the topic won’t be covered at all.
Most importantly, let participants know if the event will be by video and if it’s going to be recorded. A lot of people are still used to audio conferences where they can get away with their casual attire. You do not want to put attendees into an embarrassing situation.
Speaker Appearance Fundamentals
Every speaker must be warned about the dress-code in advance. Generally, business casual will do; however, it’s best to go for neutral colors and avoid bright patterns.
Try to dress comfortably. A video conference is already a pretty nerve-wracking event – you do not want to make it worse by wearing tight shoes or an overly heavy sweater.
If glasses are optional, it’s best to take them off since they can reflect the light. This will not look good on camera.
Interacting with Other Speakers
If you are not the sole presenter, you should make sure not to pull all your attention on yourself. Introduce yourself and every speaker at the beginning of a video conference. Address them by name and try to be as respectful and inclusive as humanly possible.
Don’t interrupt or argue with them. To avoid intellectual debates and unexpected turns of events, you should discuss and rehearse the presentation far in advance. You must ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to your content, timeline, and main takeaways.
It’s best if you do not have group conversations separate from your participants, even while muted. This looks anticlimactic at best and impolite at worst. Make sure to have everything squared before the event airs: it’s simply unprofessional to try and fix things on the go.
Presentation Look and Delivery
The presentation should reflect and support your content – there is nothing new here. There is a lot to be said about the design and templates of the slides; however, here, let’s focus on the speaker’s delivery.
It’s obvious that you must rehearse your speech/discussion multiple times – in front of the mirror, your friends, on the video conferencing platform.
You need to know both the material and the tone of voice you are going for: where to punctuate, at what point to make an emphasis, how to sound energetic and natural.
It’s also important that you nail down your gestures and visual cues. If you gesture too much, twiddle thumbs or shuffle papers, it can disrupt even the best performance. Not only will you look ridiculous, but your mic may pick up on all those background noises.
Read also: How to Make a Webinar Presentation
Attendee Etiquette Fundamentals
Just because you are not the only attendee doesn’t mean you don’t have responsibilities. For the video conference to go smoothly, everyone needs to play their part.
First of all, come prepared. Many speakers send materials relevant to the video conference in advance. Try to read as much as you can: this is how you derive the most benefit from the event.
The general rule is not to sign up for video conferences that are beyond your expertise. Not only will it be a waste of your time, but you will also slow down other participants.
It’s good to check every email even if there is no intellectual prepping required. Often speakers will send a link to the video conferencing room or ask you to download special equipment.
If you said you’d come to the conference, you need to do so, and on time. If something came up and you can’t make it, send a polite apology email to the speaker.
If you are running late, there is no reason to disrupt the ongoing event and announce your arrival. Just take your online seat, and do your best to catch up with everyone.
Dress appropriately – even if you plan to stay in the background the entire time. Wearing comfortable business clothes will make you feel more confident and receptive to the information.
You should turn off all devices, especially if you are going to have your mic on the entire time. While a phone call may be a minor nuisance during training, it can completely ruin business negotiations.
Be an active listener during the video presentation. Take notes and think of questions to ask. However, try to be aware of what other people have already asked. You don’t want to waste everybody’s time.
Be very careful when formulating your question. You don’t want to spend forever on it, but you do need to make sure it is coherent and relevant to the conversation.
Watch the chat and upvote the questions you find interesting. While in chat, avoid spamming and getting into personal confrontations. You are here to have a discussion, not to argue.
Once the conference is over, many presenters would send an email asking for feedback. Fill out the feedback form. And not only when you hated the presentation – let the speaker know if you loved it too.
Be thorough in your responses. Do not just say you didn’t like something: explain why that was the case and give suggestions for improvement.
If you follow these tips, you will be a dream attendee at every video conference.
Equipment Choice and Connection
You don’t need to splurge, but you can’t be cheap either. After all, everyone is used to the crystal-clear audio and video in the business environment, and you can’t fail in comparison.
Don’t have important negotiations in a room with a poor internet connection. Your grainy video won’t impress anyone, and there is nothing worse than interrupting your business partner due to audio latency.
Test all equipment before the event. Make sure nothing obstructs your mic or camera. There are usually two things you need to be most aware of: camera positioning, lighting, and background noises. Here is how you can ensure both works in your favor.
The basic rule is to position the camera on eye-level: not too close and not too far. While choosing an angle, make sure not to crop your head. The angle is highly important since you want to create a feeling of being in the same room.
Take care of the camera support beforehand. Your camera falling on the floor at an emotional moment is the last thing you need during a video conference.
While natural light is the best light, it can be pretty volatile. However, if you don’t mind such subtle changes, then you can simply go with it.
Just make sure not to sit too close to the window since it can create shadows on your face and other unfortunate visual effects.
If your video conference has high stakes, you should invest in professional light sources. You may not need an entire lighting kit with diffusers and reflectors, but the basic overhead lights are recommended.
However, don’t use lamps with intense cold light: you want to go for softer, more natural shades. It would be ideal if you could get a light with an embedded dimmer function for better control.
Position the light sources in front of you, behind the webcam at a 45-degree angle. Check how you and the room are illuminated before going live. This way, you have one last chance to fix the uneven light, optical illusions, and other typical issues.
Choosing a good microphone should help with the issue. In addition to that, you should remember to mute whenever you need to cough, sneeze, or move something on the table. You may simply not realize how loud you are to the poor attendees.
Check with your neighbors if they plan on doing anything on the day of video conferencing. There is probably nothing more disruptive than the sound of drilling.
However, it’s always better to hold a video conference at a specially designated huddle room in the office.
Check out our Mic and Camera Recommendations for a Webinar
Good equipment and a stable internet connection are the basics that every company must provide. They are the foundation of the proper business etiquette.
Uncluttered and Fresh Environment
Just don’t have a video conference in the company’s kitchen – that dirty cup your colleague forgot from yesterday won’t provide for a good look.
Even if you are connecting via your desk, make sure it’s clean and uncluttered. You do not want to overstimulate your viewers’ senses and distract them from the presentation.
In general, it’s a good idea to have a cute green plant and some books in the background. But again – do not overdo it. Take a minimalist approach when designing your video conferencing environment.
Overall, here are the basic rules that will help you follow the video conferencing etiquette as a speaker:
1. Inform participants about the event as soon as possible. Account for the time zone differences and send the necessary materials.
2. Get on the same page with the speakers. Rehearse in advance – do not improvise while on air.
3. Buy high-quality equipment and ensure a good internet connection.
4. Ensure that participants know how to use the video conferencing platform.
5. Wear professional and comfortable clothes. Unclutter the background.
6. Be yourself, but try to remain calm and professional.
Here are the rules you should follow as an attendee:
1. Read the necessary materials and download software
2. Come on time and send an email if you can’t attend
3. Wear comfortable and appropriate clothes
4. Be an active listener and ask relevant questions
5. Don’t spam in chat or start arguments
6. Provide feedback with detailed explanations.
If both speakers and attendees follow the rules, they’d have a great experience with any video conference.
MyOwnConference blog. Lifehacks, reviews, useful tips for preparing, holding and promoting webinars and web conferences.