Over the past ten years, we have seen video conferencing take centre stage as the industry standard for workplace collaboration and communications. The benefits of new technologies are transforming the meeting experience as coworkers and client connect with ease across diverse physical and virtual environments and time zones.
But users haven’t been quite as quick to applaud innovative video conferencing technologies. The frustrations of poor user experience can still feature in many meetings being held . Common problems, including radio silence from the other end, dark or nonexistent video, audio echo and connectivity issues, greatly impede on the quality of your meeting and your reluctance to host it again.
Rather than see users increasingly begrudgingly launch their next meeting with mild apathy, we’ve summed up our best do’s and don’ts to elevate your next video conference experience.
Choose the right technology
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to video conferencing, the technology platform (and devices) you choose to use really do depend on your requirements. This also extends to ensuring all participants have the same tools, technology and video conferencing know-how required to accept the call.
Think about your meeting requirements
It follows that audio and video are relevant for certain types of conferencing capabilities, but not all. Before launching a call, consider whether you require video to achieve the desired results? If it is collaboration you are after, it might be more beneficial to share your screen so the other person can have a visual reference and outcomes can be reached faster and more efficiently. Consider the implications of communicating globally, too. Using video, for example, may be standard practice in some cultures more than others. Sometimes face-to-face is more acceptable and suitable as a meeting platform depending on the nature of your discussion.
Test the equipment prior to an important call
It is important to take five to test your microphone and speakers to avoid an important call where either you or the person on the other line is mute or hard to hear.
While this one sounds obvious in hindsight, don’t lose standard professional etiquette when you move over to the world of audiovisual technologies. It is still important to introduce who you are and what you are there to talk about to formalise the meeting and ensure you stay on track. It is also the case that people often tend to have shorter attention spans when communicating virtually as opposed to in-person. Discussions need to begin by being framed with a tight agenda to ensure you don’t lose your captive audience.
Mute your microphone when you’re not speaking
There might be one thing worse than radio silence, and that’s unnecessary and unwanted sound coming from beyond the person’s headset or speakerphone. Try to remember to mute your microphone when other people are speaking to give them the mental clarity to continue.
Think about your appearance and that of your surroundings
Being on video may catch you off-guard if you are unprepared. Take a few minutes to think about what you are wearing, and what is positioned in the surrounding environment you’re calling from, before dialling the other participants.
Read or write emails while on the call
As tempting as it can be to type out a few work responses while the person on the other line conducts the call, it helps to give over all your attention to keep the meeting focused and to the point. The irony is that by directing your attention toward the call, and less on multitasking, you might find you have a more focused discussion and spend a shorter amount of time in the meeting.
Leave potentially embarrassing documents or web pages open
You might also think this is an obvious point to make. But we see time and again participants switching between browsers only to click the wrong page to disclose private or confidential information.
Don’t give over to impatience too easily
While the frustrations of poor user experience can leave you jaded, try to be patient in the presence of audio or video lag. Just like in face-to-face meetings, there are small attributes of a person’s way of communicating that might displease us. But by expecting a few seconds delay at times, you might find you start to enjoy video conferencing a lot more.
Chat too much with others in the room
It can be difficult to mediate multiple groups in a video conference. In light of the nuances of virtual group communications, it helps to focus your gaze on the people sitting opposite you on the screen, rather than those beside you. Even with the assistance of a muted microphone, try to limit conversation so the virtual communications can flow.