COVID-19 has forced us all into the world of video conferencing, and whether we like it or not it’s here to stay as a vital tool to keep businesses ‘in business’ for the forseeable future.
Chris Gough, Managing Director at Chippenham-based Mintivo gives his top tips for making the most of the technology at everyone’s fingertips.
1. Position your webcam correctly
Most laptops have built-in cameras, if yours does, position the camera so it is slightly above you, no-one wants to look up your nose on a call! Use books to raise the height of the laptop or ideally get an external camera.
2. Get the lighting right
Face a window for your call (Natural light is best). If the main light source for the room is behind you, use USB lights or a lamp to help stop shadows on your face. If you can’t face the light source, make sure you don’t have a window or light source directly behind you.
3. Test your equipment
All video conferencing apps give you the ability to perform a test call, use this to check webcam angles (see point 1), microphone levels and speaker/headphone volume. If you are using headphones and/or an external webcam, make sure these devices are selected, not the built-in ones.
4. Eliminate background noise
Video conferencing meetings can be busy, noisy places. Do your bit to help the meeting by finding a quiet space and let others around you know that you are on a call. Turn off background music like TV’s or radios. And remember, if you’ve decided to take the meeting outside, your mic can pick up wind noise that will be distracting to others on the call.
5. Mute your microphone
Even with background noise eliminated, typing, breathing or eating will be audible to other participants. Do your bit to help the meeting by muting your microphone when you are not speaking. If you are the host and have a high number of participants consider muting all participants at relevant points of the meeting.
6. Get comfortable
Make sure you are able to sit still for the length of the meeting; standing is ok for a quick 5-minute chat but probably not for an hour! Moving rooms/devices mid-call is distracting to the meeting, more so than adjusting your seating position in a chair so be prepared and have a laptop/phone charger plugged in and refreshments/drinks ready.
7. Dress appropriately (no pyjamas please)
This applies to both video and in-person meetings but set your chair up to the correct height and make sure you have good posture and are dressed appropriately. No need for formal dress if you normally dress casually but also make sure you are fully dressed.
8. Share your screen carefully
If you do need to share your screen during a video call, take a few seconds to prepare before you hit that share button. Clear your desktop of any extra tabs or programs you may have open and make sure any private or sensitive information is hidden.
9. Remember, it’s still a meeting (normal rules apply)
Although it is a video meeting, it’s still a meeting, so best practices still apply. Only hold the meeting if it’s genuinely needed, share an agenda ahead of time, stick to timings, engage the participants and steer/contribute to the meeting appropriately.
10. Bonus tip: Never talk over someone else
In face-to-face meetings we pick up on subtle hints; eye contact and personal gestures that tell us when someone is about to contribute. But we don’t get those clues in video conferencing and it’s easy for meetings to descend into a free-for-all, everyone talking over each other. Avoid this by listening carefully and waiting for silence before talking. If someone else talks at the same time, go quiet and wait for the meeting organiser to invite you to speak.
Look out for a new feature in Teams called “hands up” to address that too!