In the shortest amount of time life as we knew it changed. Almost surreal. Working from home was an idea that many of us probably wished for often, until we were forced to. But instead of dwelling on the problems and extra stresses that arose from our "shelter in place" rules, we'd like to make working from home a little easier, less stressful and more effective. Specifically, we'd like to go over some ground rules and guidelines for conducting and being part of the ever-growing culture of Video Conferencing.
With a growing number of businesses asking their employees to sign up to services like Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, we think it's imperative that we all know how to conduct ourselves during these digital meetings. Video conferencing has allowed teams to keep up with their usual meetings and, more importantly, to keep connecting with colleagues and friends—something that keeps a lot of us going.
So let's get started. We'd like to start off with what we think may be the most important point:
Manage Your Distractions
How do you feel when someone is endlessly checking their phone during a meeting? Or constantly typing on their laptop? We get it, you feel that multitasking is going to get you further in life, but it's not. It's distracting to the other members of the meeting and can come across as disrespectful. So, turn off or silence any applications that might constantly bombard you with notifications or steal your attention. Flip your phone over so the screen lighting up doesn't draw your attention away either. Limiting your distractions is the first step to a successful video conference. It'll also help you concentrate and retain more of the information shared in the meeting.
New Face? Introduce Yourself
Not all meetings will only involve people you know. Make sure to introduce yourself. Keep it simple and short—they don't need a life story, just enough to get them comfortable in talking to you.
Dress Code. Keep it Appropriate
We know that picking an outfit can sometimes be an entire task on its own. And now that you're at home, it may also be easy to become complacent with your dress code and feel it's okay to pitch up in your pyjamas. The easiest way to make sure you're dressed appropriately is to follow your general company's dress code. If they don't have a specific dress code, try something semi-casual and appropriate. The great thing with conferencing from home is that once you're done, you can jump right back into your warm onesie.
Generally, during a time like this, people are more forgiving about your appearance, but that doesn't mean let go of yourself. It also doesn't mean suit up.
Background, Lights, Action
We wouldn't say you should worry about this too much. But nevertheless, there are some guidelines in choosing where you conduct your video conference.
Lighting is your friend. Making yourself visibly clear is important. Why? People need to see your expressions. Communicating over video or phone takes a lot away from body language, which makes up a large portion of how we communicate. Being able to see facial expressions and reactions give us a better idea of how people feel about certain ideas—especially when they may feel uncomfortable about vocalising their opinions.
If you are fortunate enough to have a Home Office, then great. That is most likely exactly where you should be when you're on your conference call. If you don't have an office, try pick a space that's not too distracting and overcrowded with items that may draw the members attention away from the conversation. Having family photos, sports awards or paraphernalia isn't a bad thing—that helps keep a bit of the human connection alive. Most importantly, try not conduct the call in your bed, under the sheets, or in a room where there might be a lot of traffic if you have other people in the house.
The Magical Mute Button
There's a mute button for a reason. Use it. When you're not talking, hit that mute button. It helps with things like echoes and other background noises you might not have any control over, like dogs barking, birds chirping, alarms or doors opening and closing.
I'm Hungry. Can I eat?
This one is a simple, No. Wait until the meeting is over, or eat before. Meeting are usually scheduled, so plan accordingly. Eating can be distracting and usually isn't the most pleasing thing to watch, or hear. So please try avoid eating. Drinking your coffee or water, that's perfectly fine.
We hope these small guidelines assist you in conducting yourself better when going live on your conference calls. If you have any other tips you'd like to share, please, drop them in the comments section below!
Happy video conferencing!