How your business uses videoconferencing depends on your industry, the percentage of your staff who work remotely, and your infrastructure capabilities. The popularity of the technology as a whole, though, is growing. In fact, Gartner reports that customer-facing video-based chat will be introduced in 100 of the 500 largest global businesses by 2018—and those numbers just represent use from a customer service standpoint. The IDC reports that internal communication with clients and colleagues are still rooted in video for 44 percent of companies, and that number is only rising.
When you’ve got a technology used by close to half of today’s companies in today’s IT-saturated market, you’re bound to find some universal truths. When it comes to videoconferencing, two points stand out: Doing it the right way matters, and poor videoconferencing is (put bluntly) often a waste of time and resources.
How can you bring your A-game to your next videoconference? Here are some tips to remember.
Understand Your Tools and Program Options
Glitches and potential technical failures are always a possibility when you’re relying on connections and pieces of equipment that aren’t centrally located. That said, just because you have colleagues logging in from elsewhere doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to lack operator knowledge about your interface. It’s important to take the time to learn the tools and options associated with your equipment before logging in so valuable meeting time is not wasted trying to play catch up.
Focus on Location, Location, Location
Whether you’re using a full-blown corporate telepresence room or having a mid-morning Skype with a client, make sure to choose a location conducive to productivity. In other words, the area should be as clean and private as possible (preferably in an area with a closed door). If you’re working from home, ensure the visible area is tidy and professional. These simple steps can decrease distractions and ensure optimal efficiency.
Pay Attention to Video and Sound Quality
There are factors you cannot control, like whether or not you have access to a dedicated telepresence space, but if you do, then make sure lighting, camera angles, and microphone position are all tweaked to provide an optimum collaboration experience. If you don’t have a private, self-contained space, you’ll need to pay special attention to the audio and visuals of your meeting. It may sound like common sense, but often the smallest factors can be overlooked when preparing for a videoconference—remember to adequately negotiate the distances between voices and microphones, the angles of video devices and the appropriate placement and wattage of lighting elements.
Aim for Meaningful Interaction
It can be easy in a videoconference—especially for remote participants—to remain quiet and passive during conversation. Ultimately, those attendees are losing collaborative opportunities and the speaker is losing engagement, which is essential for any meeting to succeed (whether in person or via video). To avoid this trap, take special care to actively include all participants using both open-ended questions and the energy and excitement with which you approach the subject matter. Also, take note that many platforms include built-in functions like white boards, chat rooms and polls that help boost involvement—the more visual and engaging your presentation, the more you’ll get out of this meeting of the minds.
Keep it Professional
Business etiquette does not stop when a videoconference starts. Consider beginning with introductions like those that occur in face-to-face meetings, and avoid multitasking or having outside conversations during live calls. Just as your location should be tidy for an effective teleconference, so should your personal appearance. In every way possible, retain all the professionalism of the boardroom even if you’re videoconferencing from your bedroom.
Today’s business world is full of freelancers, long distance client partnerships and multi-point collaborations, and it’s proven that videoconferencing is a cost-effective and uber-efficient way to help professionals communicate from differing geographies. Just because videoconferencing is convenient doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve your best effort, so remember to bring you’re a-game the next time you long in to a call.