7 Video Conferencing Bad Habits You Should Break in the New Year
As an international video conferencing provider, our employees video conference everyday. So, in the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I asked around the office for everyone’s biggest pet peeves, and best advice – during video meetings.
Here’s what they said:
- LOOK AT THE PERSON’S FACE AND NOT DIRECTLY INTO THE CAMERA.
The point of video conferencing is to emulate an in person meeting – you wouldn’t look directly above their head in real life, so don’t do it on video. Additionally, what’s the point of staring into the camera that’s a couple inches above their head? You might as well take a regular call since you’re missing the real benefits of a video call’s personal feel. If this strategy feels weird to you, another way to think of it is like a news reporter – they’re never looking directly into the camera since they are reading the teleprompter, but their gaze falls close enough to make it appear to be looking at the audience. Exception: Single party videos – if you are streaming or recording a video instead of a video conversation, you can look directly into the camera.
- SET PHONES ASIDE.
It’s easy to grab your phone and mindlessly scroll when there’s a lull in conversation, or you catch a flash of light out the corner of your eye. Since old habits die hard, don’t even tempt yourself by having it on your desk while video conferencing – out of sight, out of mind.
- DON’T MULTI-TASK.
In the same vein as using your phone, people can really see when your attention is slipping. Shooting messages on Slack or checking emails is very obvious during a video meeting. To avoid this, shut down any programs that might give you a notification that will pull your attention away from the task at hand.
- MUTE WHEN NOT SPEAKING.
For multi-party meetings, if you are not the main presenter, locate your mute button and be quick on the draw. Background noise and even minor rustling on your end can be highly distracting to other participants, and may even mess with the “primary screen” function where the main presenter loses the largest screen within the meeting. Leave your mouse over the mute button so if you are addressed during a meeting, you’re a click away from speaking.
- DO NOT EAT ON CAMERA.
Please save your snacks to an off screen performance. It seems silly to even bring up, but yes this really happens.
- LAPTOP UP, HEADPHONES ON!
If you are on a laptop, the sound is infinitely better for both parties if you use headphones. Resolve to leave a pair on your desk at all times – even a cheap pair are better than nothing.
- NO OVERHEAD LIGHTING.
A photographer friend of mine once told me that overhead lighting on people should be a crime. It wasn’t until I found myself under this lighting on video that I really understood. Poor lighting in your room isn’t just unflattering, but it prevents the participants from clearly seeing your face and being able to read your expressions. This can be tough to achieve in many offices, but the investment in an eye level desk lamp is definitely worth it.
Remember – it’s okay if you’re unfamiliar with best practices! Video conferencing is a newer tool in many organizations, so use this chance to self diagnose, refine, and impress during your next video meetings with your impeccable etiquette.
Happy New Year!