Real Time Communications Featured Article

Stop Eating and Pay Attention During Video Conferences

March 17, 2016

While the mobile workforce concept has given quite a bit to both employee and employer—ask a mobile worker about the last time he wore a tie, for example—there are also some important points to note about video conferencing etiquette. Many of these points are fairly simple, and common sense, but some of these might be unexpected, so a quick refresher course might be in order for what to do during the video conference.

Again, many tips are simple matters of common sense. As the headline suggests, stop eating and pay attention are two big points to remember in the video conference. Making eye contact during the call and not leaving without telling people first are also some common-sense approaches to the call, but there are some others that make sense, perhaps only in retrospect.

Not typing while on a video conference can be a big point in the user's favor; while there's clearly value in taking notes during a call, using the keyboard can be a distracting influence, especially while a presenter is talking. That familiar clatter of keys can be unusually loud over a call, and can break the flow of a meeting as well as a presenter's concentration.

Consider a kind of visual warning system when dealing with a video conference in a populated office. Lizzie Post, descendant of etiquette doyenne Emily Post, prefers the tactic of writing VIDEO CALL on a piece of paper, which she can then hold aloft to anyone who wanders into view as a clear sign that she shouldn't be disturbed. Post considers the practice “dorky,” but notes that it does work.

For those administrating a call, remember that a room full of people on a video conference with one or other people can potentially dominate a conversation, while keeping the conference callers shut out. Making specific opportunity to invite other people to speak can be helpful, but keep it general; ask if “anyone” has something to add, thus splitting the difference between shutting out the quiet ones and putting people on the spot by addressing them by name in a call.

In the end, the point of a video conference is to deliver information and encourage collaboration via the most direct and professional means possible. Living up to the professional side of things can seem like an unnecessary burden sometimes, but that commitment to professionalism, where even the little, stupid details are accounted for, proves a level of commitment that provides great credibility. Credibility makes collaboration easier as it helps maintain trust, and trust means a more open exchange of information and ideas.

It's easy to brush off a video conference, especially when not in the office. Maintaining a few of those little niceties, however, can make the difference between a successful call and on that doesn't hold up.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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