You’ve read our articles on Zoom and Teams, and our technical tips about how to use them. Now let’s talk about how to use them better, so you look your best to the people on the other side of the video call. Here are some best practices to keep in mind the next time you enter a virtual meeting:
- Maintain Eye Contact. When you look into your camera lens, you’re looking other participants in the eye. Are you distracted by emails, games, your phone, and your online shopping cart? People can tell. It’s hard to focus on that little dot throughout the entire call, especially when you want to see the other participants and need to reference other resources, but make a point to at least glance at the lens from time to time, to reassure your audience that you’re engaged and paying attention. Pro tip: If your webcam is movable, make sure it’s positioned on your primary screen.
- Resist the Urge to Interrupt. Especially when someone has a slower Internet connection, delays can make conversation flow challenging. Some video conferencing platforms try to lower the volume of participants who aren’t the primary (or loudest) speaker, making it hard for others who want to hear everyone’s comments. As the cliché goes, we have two ears and one mouth.
- Mute Background Music. Background sounds like a radio, a cell phone notification, and musical instruments can wreak havoc to a call’s audio, especially when a person talks on the quiet side.
- Mute the Mic When Not Speaking. It’s a pain to remember to un-mute, but it beats forcing the other call participants to hear the random background noise in your life.
- Dress Appropriately. Dresses and three-piece suits may not be required, but pajamas stained with last night’s dinner probably isn’t what most people would consider dressing for success. Our minds are subconsciously using visual data to make first impressions and fill-in the gaps of data we’re missing from in-person interactions.
- Test Your Technology. It may sound funny coming from a technology company, but please, “try to break it” before you need your webcam for that critical business call. Consider doing a quick dress rehearsal with a co-worker, especially if you’ve recently made changes to your equipment.
- Be Mindful of Your Site’s Internet Bandwidth. There’s a finite amount of traffic that can flow through your local network. Especially if other members of your family are using bandwidth-intensive operations like distance learning, online gaming, streaming video, and their own video calls, be aware they may be impacting the quality of your video call. Consider asking your housemates to delay downloading that new high-definition movie until after your work call is complete. Upgrading your Internet speed and equipment and a enforcing the conservation of bandwidth through technological solutions could be worthwhile alternatives.