April 6, 2020

The most important Do's and Dont's for video conferencing

In times of social distancing and home office, it suddenly became our only connection to the outside world, to colleagues, business partners and even family members: Videoconferencing.

To come off professionally during video calls, especially in a work context, a certain video netiquette, a lot of attention, and often even more patience is required. Proper "remote" communication needs to be learned.

These seven Q&As will give Senior Talents the right information to get them ready for their next video call:

1. Which provider should I use?

There are countless providers of video conferencing on the market. One of the most popular is Skype (free), which has just introduced a new feature that eliminates the need for an account or app to make video calls. Skype allows calls with up to 50 participants. Also popular is Google Hangouts - also free. Up to 200 people can join a meeting with Zoom

2. What kind of equipment do I need

If you have a laptop, in most cases, it has a camera (above the screen) and a microphone. If you have a PC, you need an external camera. In general, headphones with an integrated microphone are recommended - such as the headset you use for making phone calls.

3. With or without video? 

Sometimes people leave their camera turned off during a call. This makes sense if you are not actively communicating and just listening, such as in a webinar (an online seminar). On the other hand, if you want to interact with other people, they should be able to see you.

4. How do I behave during a video conference? 

Netiquette dictates: If you're just listening, mute yourself. This way you avoid causing annoying feedback or background noises during the call. Basically, the same rules apply in a virtual meeting as in a real one: be punctual, friendly, and prepared and adapt your (visible) clothing to the occasion. You should position the camera at about eye level if it’s external (a pile of books can be a substitute for a proper stand). If you set the camera too low, you will be looking down from above during the conversation. If you set it too high, you will look small to others.

Just like in real life, the same thing applies virtually: you’re always communicating even if you’re not saying anything. However, body language, facial expressions and gestures lose some of their effectiveness during a video call so you should balance that with slow and clear speech. When speaking, look directly into the camera and not at the screen where the other participants can be seen. This suggests eye contact, and what is being said is more forceful.

5. What background is appropriate?

Laundry or dishes in the sink as a backdrop? Could convey to the person you’re speaking with that you are mentally somewhere else. A different camera angle or a place in the apartment that shows a quiet setting - ideally a wall of books or pictures - is more professional. Some professionals sit in front of a roll-up of their company during a video call. If you want to lighten up the atmosphere, you can also use a wide variety of background images that are available on many platforms.

6. How long should a call last?

It has become common practice that professional video conferences are generally held for shorter periods than face-to-face meetings. According to experts, we can only keep our concentration for up to a maximum of 60-90 minutes.

7. How do I keep the connection stable? 

This is where the patience mentioned at the beginning of this post comes into play. Who hasn’t experienced this? The person you’re talking to gets stuck, talks as if they’re in slow motion or goes completely silent. To avoid these scenarios as much as possible, you should make sure that no other devices that use the Internet - such as a Bluetooth speaker or a movie stream - are running at the same time.

To sum up, the most important No-Go's in video conferencing:
  • Too much or too little light
  • Unreliable equipment - especially nerve-racking with sound
  • Poor positioning of the laptop
  • An unsettling background
  • Avoid bland phrases

One of the most famous episodes on the subject of home office was on BBC two years ago in an interview with Robert Kelly:

This video went viral - and Robert Kelly became the subject of interviews about home office:

And this is what a conference call would probably look like in real life 🤓:

You may also be interested:

Home Office: Which jobs are suitable for Senior Talents?

5 Tips for Home Office