Video conferencing has its perks but can have negative impacts on productivity as it cannot mimic real-life interactions. Some best practices and “etiquettes” can improve the effectiveness of remote meetings significantly. We recommend anything that mimics real-life interactions.
Video Conferencing Etiquette
- Mute yourself when not speaking.
- Be on time.
- Ensure your technology works correctly.
- Use technology to fully engage remote participants.
- Choose the proper software and hardware.
- Wear work-appropriate clothing.
- Frame the camera correctly.
- Have the right light.
- Look into the camera.
- Pay attention.
Always turn on video so that participants can see visual cues while talking to each other. Maintaining proper lighting can ensure crisp images that make it more lifelike. Make sure you look work-appropriate in your video. Dressing up for work can not only help you set the tone for yourself but also others.
Keeping your microphone muted when you’re not speaking is a good practice. This will help you to avoid disrupting the call or to ensure that background noises (e.g., sneezing, eating, etc.) do not inadvertently transfer to a call. Zoom has a handy “walkie-talkie” feature that allows users to have their call muted and briefly come off mute with a push and hold of the space bar.
In addition to using the proper hardware, avoid background distractions by taking advantage of virtual backgrounds and background blurs. Zoom and very recently, Microsoft Teams, offer virtual background capabilities, which can allow you to insert a customized still image or video to block out distractions or messiness in your home office. The Teams’ virtual feature is very new. While it allows users to choose from stock virtual backgrounds, it won’t allow you to upload images. For a quick workaround, just copy the files to the folders below and restart. Reasonably sized JPEG seems to be the best option – roughly 1mb or so.
- Windows: %AppData%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- Mac: /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
Collaborating online can be difficult. The collaboration capabilities included in most conferencing platforms can help you work better. Many platforms have features like screen sharing, whiteboards, breakout rooms, annotation tools, and chat capability that you should consider using. Knowing which features are available and applying them in your meetings can give every call that in-person feel, which is key to being productive. Many of these features, however, can also be security risks, so only use them after you’ve considered all of the security implications. If you’re unsure, check first with your IT department.
Online meetings can sometimes be less engaging than in-person meetings. As a result, applying excellent communication tactics is even more critical in virtual meetings. Start your meeting with an icebreaker, especially if meeting people for the first time. Talk slowly and clearly and vary your tone as you speak. Discussions can happen quickly in on-site face-to-face meetings, but for online sessions, you may sometimes need to encourage participants to engage more actively in conversations.