Many of us have been thrown into the joys of video conferencing and are not aware of the best ways to manage this new style of communication. When transitioning to working virtually, one important tool that you will use is Video Conferencing. It creates the feeling and connection of meeting in person, but you can do it from anywhere. Additionally, it is a great way to collaborate as you can share screens and work with clients or team members on projects while you are using the tool.
At CBG, we have been using Zoom for over five years. We have clients and partners across the country. We never meet with them in person unless we are attending an accounting conference. We primarily work via video conference. We have made mistakes and learned from them along the way. Instead of learning the hard way as we did, learn from the tips we share on how to best utilize video conferencing for your business. This will help you seamlessly transition to working from home, so you don’t have to worry about missing any meetings with clients or your team.
#1 Conduct Professional Meetings from Your Home Office, not Your Car
It is best to schedule meetings when you can be at your home office. Do not try to multitask and do a video conference call from the car. It is dangerous, other people are going to feel sick watching your phone bounce around, and the internet is very sketchy while driving and often drops the call. If you have to “dial-in”, use the phone number option. It’s much better if you schedule your day to be at your desk during the conference call.
#2 Stay in One Place
Another thing to point out is don’t join the video conference then walk around your house. This is not professional, and it will also make people feel dizzy. Not to mention that it’s not your best angle when you have your phone below your chin. You wouldn’t walk around during an in-person meeting, so don’t do it for a work call. Save FaceTime and at-home wine tours for your family and friends. Keep business calls professional.
#3 Use The Mute Feature to Enhance the Quality of the Call
There are many different options for video conferences. As many employees are transitioning to working from home, everyone will need to adjust to the new format. When someone is speaking, do not interrupt. Keep a note pad beside you to capture your thoughts so you can ask later. Then when it’s appropriate, be sure to speak up. If you aren’t speaking, click mute. The background noise can ruin the entire experience and cause distractions.
#4 Eliminate Family Distractions
It is essential to set boundaries with your family when you are working from home. When you are on a call, make sure your family and children know not to interrupt. You don’t want to have a kid interrupting you in the middle of the call because they have to go to the bathroom, or fighting with their siblings, or your spouse casually stops in to ask you a question. Set up work time and divide childcare responsibilities with your spouse. It’s also a good idea to close your door or put your pets out of your office so they do not interrupt either. It might be funny the first time it happens, but it gets old fast. If you don’t establish rules for the new work/home environment, it can become chaotic.
#5 What to Do if You are Sick
If you are actively sick, and on a group call with others, mute yourself to avoid distractions. Use courtesy as you would at an in-person meeting. Let the attendees know you are under the weather, but on the call and you will be on mute but can join in as necessary. Be aware people are worried about getting sick and very stressed. The sound of coughing may trigger some stress and cause a major distraction in the meeting. If necessary, reschedule or excuse yourself.
#6 Eat Before or After a Video Call
No one likes to listen to someone eat on the phone, and they will not want to watch you eat your food while they are trying to conduct a meeting on a video call. Plan and be sure to schedule your meals around your calls.
#7 Make Your Workspace Look Professional
You don’t have to create or decorate your office to look like a professional space, but you do want to clean it up and make sure it is not a mess. Use things in your house like a plant or decor that you already have to make your space look nice and clutter-free. People you meet with are only going to see what’s behind you. You want to make the best impression possible. Do you want them to see your messy space or a clean area?
#8 Test The Lighting and Sound
To ensure quality meetings, test the video, and sound before you have your first video call. You can do this with your spouse or a friend. Look at your background and make sure you like what the attendees will see, if not, see suggestions above. Set up your computer with a good webcam to make you look your best. Once you have the camera set up, you want to test to make sure it’s working correctly. You don’t want to be in front of a window as the light shining through will make you look dark and not be able to see you. You want to look your best. Test different positions in your house or workspace to find the best lighting. You also want to be sure to test the sound. Decide if you will use headphones, a headset, or your computer audio. When all of your equipment is set up and working, do a test run to ensure everyone on your team has installed the conference program and knows how to use it before your meeting.
#9 Dress Like You Would for a Normal Meeting
Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you can show up at a video conference in your PJs. Dress to impress as you would for the meeting if you were attending it in person. You must do this at least from the waist up (as long as you don’t stand up) to ensure you look professional. Do what you would on a typical day like you are going to the office or a meeting; take a shower, brush your hair, put on makeup, etc. Not only will you feel better, but you will also look like you are taking this seriously.
#10 Be Prompt
Dial-in EARLY! There is nothing worse than being late on these calls. Those that have lots of experience with this will get annoyed if you are late. Not to mention that sometimes technology doesn’t work perfectly. You will need to ensure you get on, and everything is working properly. Don’t wait until your call time. If something goes wrong and you have to reboot your computer, it will make you look bad.
#11 Stay Focused
Like our other tips above, treat your video conference as you would an in-person meeting. You would not be checking your phone or email when you are meeting with co-workers, a meeting with your boss or a client. You should also not bounce around on the computer, checking Facebook, or doing other work when you are on the call. Same as above, be focused and pay full attention to the speaker or whoever is at the meeting with you. That would be extremely rude, so you shouldn’t do it at a video conference. Eliminate distractions by turning off your phone and mute notifications on your computer. You need to be respectful and stay focused. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and the person who is on the call with you.
#12 Leaving the Meeting Unexpectedly
If for some reason you have an emergency or need to jump off the call, be sure to advise the host you need to leave the meeting. If it would be disruptive, it may be better not to interrupt and leave the call then email the host to let them know what happened. Be sure to find out what you missed and follow up.
It is 2020 and our world as we know it has been tremendously impacted. It may never be the same. Transitioning to working virtually and using video conferencing as a tool will become the new normal for many workers in order to continue business operations. We encourage you to use video conferencing as it is a powerful resource that will help us succeed in the weeks and months ahead. Use our tips here to avoid disaster situations and to lead successful and productive meetings.