Society runs on video conferencing in 2020. Conducting a corporate meeting to discuss budgets for Q2? Having a company-wide happy hour on Friday afternoon? Celebrating a birthday with 82 of your closest family members? Video conferencing software can handle all meeting types.
Transparency Market Research estimates the global video conferencing market will grow from $6.1 billion in 2019 to almost double to $11.56 billion by the end of 2027. As more businesses make the switch—at least temporarily—to primarily using video conferencing as their source of communication, the need for the proper etiquette is imminent.
So, we bring you a guide to help navigate the somewhat unclear waters of video conferencing etiquette.
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1. Make conferencing more personal
Have you noticed eye contact is basically nonexistent when everyone is looking at their screens and not the webcam? Of course, you’re looking at your colleagues’ video feed, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it feels a bit impersonal. A pro tip from TechnologyAdvice’s CEO, Rob Bellenfant, is to move the video window near your device’s webcam. This way, looking at others’ video feed mimics making eye contact, making the meeting more personal.
2. For the love of all that is good, mute yourself
Don’t be the person who interrupts the presentation by trying to quiet your barking dog. While there is no hard-and-fast rule about this, if you’re in a meeting with more than one person, it’s a good idea to mute your device’s microphone in order to eliminate distracting background noises. Some video conferencing software tools, such as Zoom or Blue Jeans, feature the ability to hold down the spacebar to temporarily unmute yourself to make an insightful comment or ask a question when necessary.
3. Consider changing or blurring your background
Similar to muting your microphone, adding a background—or blurring it entirely— can help eliminate distractions. Zoom allows you to change your virtual background to an image or video you create. Skype and Microsoft Teams allow you to blur your background completely.
Although it’s tempting, avoid setting your virtual background to something even more distracting than your real-life background, such as a fire-breathing dragon.
4. Use the chat function
With video conferencing, you get awkward pauses after more than one person tries to talk at a time. Avoid this problem by using the chat function. Most video conferencing software offers a messaging feature that allows for public and private chat boards during meetings. The beauty of this feature is questions can be asked and comments can be made while not interfering with the flow of the meeting. Reminded of something that you need to tell your manager? Send her a private message during the meeting so it doesn’t slip your mind.
5. Identify yourself
When in a large meeting of 10+ people, it can be difficult to establish who’s talking, especially in a fast-paced idea swap or question and answer session. It helps to state your name before you speak. This way, other participants aren’t stuck searching for the speaker among all the video feeds. In addition, it becomes clear whose ideas are whose, eliminating the chance you won’t get credit for your contributions.
6. Dress for your audience
We’ve all seen the funny clip of the guy sporting a button up and boxers because the webcam only captures from the waist up. While we can’t force you to wear pants, it’s not a bad idea to take the extra precaution. The background blur feature won’t blur it all out if you have to stand up. In the same regard, we suggest wearing something a bit nicer than an ordinary t-shirt for video calls. Taking the extra step to put on a button up or nice sweater can make a difference not only in others’ perception of you in video chats, but also in your work productivity, too.
7. It’s all about the lighting
No, this doesn’t just pertain to selfies. Seeing everyone’s face clearly in video conferences mimics the connections of meetings in real life, giving everyone a sense of normalcy. To do this, make sure you’re not sitting directly with your back to a light source, such as a window. If you can, try to position yourself facing a window, as natural light is preferable. Lamps can also be used to brighten up your webcam appearance.
While this list will certainly transform you into a respectable video conferencer, it isn’t exhaustive. Other good meetings best practices and video conferencing etiquette, such as having an agenda, being on time, and being firm on start and end times are equally important.
If you’re looking for video conferencing software to use this etiquette, use our Product Selection Tool. It takes less than 5 minutes, and you’ll get up to 5 free recommendations from our Technology Advisors that match your needs.