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Video Conferencing Etiquette

Setup

Do make sure the room is neat

Be sure the room is clean and neat. Avoid clutter such as boxes stacked up in the background, and messy lunch boxes, cell phones and sunglasses on the table. Think in terms of staging a performance.

 

Do make sure the room is quiet

Make sure the room you will be in is quiet and free of distractions. If appropriate, use a headset to block out background noise and help with mic noise. Close your office door. Your office neighbors would appreciate not being distracted by your video conference. Also, posting a sign on your door will let others know not to interrupt.

 

Do test your connection

Check that you can connect to the remote site or virtual room. Make sure your audio and video is working and that all the levels are set correctly for both the mic and the speakers. Make sure you are using a hardwired (not WiFi) connection if at all possible. Use speedtest.net or similar service to make sure you have enough bandwidth to support your video conference.

 


What to Wear

Do dress appropriately

Striped shirts or shirts with intricate patterns do not transmit well on camera, because they are visually distracting. Red, white and black are also poor choices. Go for a pastel or other light colored shirt.

 

Don’t wear noisy jewelry

Jewelry should be small and simple. Big jewelry can be distracting to those tuning in and it can also bump against your microphone. Also, stay away from dangling earrings and shiny eyeglass frames.

 


Getting Started

Do set meeting expectations

If you are the meeting facilitator, consider setting the ground rules when appropriate. For example, 1) letting folks know to mute their mics if there are more than a few participants, 2) asking that they be engaged and free from the distractions of their phone, social media, or other potential distractions, 3) asking that they not mute their video, and 4) sharing backchannel, chat, or other collaboration information. These are only a few examples but ways to make the online meeting more enjoyable.

 


During the Conference

Do be courteous to other participants

Be punctual and introduce yourself before speaking so that everyone knows who’s talking and can address you by name. Take note of the other speakers so that you can also address them by name. Lastly, turn off the sounds on your smartphone and absolutely no texting, emailing, or other distracting activities. Be engaged.

 

Do speak clearly

An audio check should be done before the virtual meeting begins to ensure that everyone can hear you. Know your material – uncertainty will cause you to mumble. Speak naturally but slowly and pronounce each word.

 

Don’t shout

Avoid “projecting” or shouting. Use your normal voice. If someone can’t hear you, adjust the level on the microphone and make sure it’s not covered by your clothing or something else. Yelling will cause viewers to turn down their volume and potentially miss what you have to say.

 

Do keep body movements minimal

If you’re someone that talks with your hands, practice keeping them put. Hand movements can distract your audience. Also, keep head movements to a minimum as well as jerky movements forward or back.

 

Don’t interrupt other speakers

Wait for an opening in the conversation before putting in your two cents. Cutting other speakers off is rude. Another option is posting pending questions by instant message (backchannel or Google Doc) so that every comment is addressed.

 

Do maintain eye contact by looking into the camera

Keep your focus on the camera. The worst thing is having your audience look at the top of your head because you’re typing or looking down at notes – or worse – at your phone.

 

Don’t carry on side conversations

Chances are if you wouldn’t do it in a face-to-face meeting, then you shouldn’t do it in a virtual one. That includes tuning out of the present conversation to talk to someone else sitting next to you, on the phone, in an IM chat, anywhere and anybody not in the current meeting. Be present and engaged.

 

Don’t make distracting sounds

Your focus should always be on the person or people at the other end of your video conference. Avoid typing on your keyboard, turn off all sounds on your phone, and close yourself into a room with no or minimal background noise. Muting your audio when appropriate – but NOT your video. (Only mute video if you are having bandwidth issues – the advantage of having video conferencing is the video: being able to see your pretty eyes and beautiful smile!)

 

Do be yourself and have fun!

Relax and have a good time. Be lively, break the ice with a joke, and make viewers laugh. It’s uber easy to tune out in a face-to-face meeting, so imagine how easy it is in a virtual one. The more fun you interject, the more people will stay focused and interested in what you have to say.

Adapted from “11 Dos & Don’ts of Video Conferencing Etiquette

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