Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic changes, telecommuting is being embraced by the business community like never before. As employers transition from using traditional office space to working remotely, many companies are finding that workers are saving time, improving productivity, reducing costs and increasing revenue. But virtual work isn’t without limitations. Sometimes, you need a face-to-face interaction with employees, customers or business partners. That’s why videoconferencing is such an important tool.
Whether you’re new to the world of videoconferencing or a seasoned veteran, here are a few tips that will help you survive your next virtual meeting.
Practice Before Your Call
Prepare for a videoconference like it’s an in-person meeting. If you’re new to video calls, practice your presentation on camera with colleagues to help you get ready. Many videoconferencing services allow you to share content on the call, so organize your notes, power point presentation and any other media you might need. Using media can help you and everyone else on the call stay focused.
Check Your Internet Speed
Before starting a videoconference, make sure your Internet connection is reliable and fast. Disconnect other devices from your network if your Wi-Fi is slower so you have plenty of bandwidth for the call. Choppy video and audio that cuts in and out makes it difficult for you and others to follow along.
Dress For The Call
You may be conducting business from home, but you still need to dress as if you’re going to the office. That may mean business-casual for some and a suit for others. Make a good judgment call and be sure to consider the cultural standards of your associates on the call.
Clean Up Your Workspace
Tidying up before you invite visitors to your office or warehouse is common courtesy, so make sure your home office or workspace is clutter free and looks professional before you start a videoconference. Make sure you have good lighting and be selective when it comes to digital backgrounds. If you don’t have a good backdrop in your office, opt for a blurred background option. This space can be used as a digital billboard, so ask someone to design a digital background with your company logo, product or service.
Arrive On Time
If you’re on time, you’re late. If you are setting up the videoconference and it’s scheduled to start at 2 p.m., open the line five minutes early. If you’re participating, login at the set start time to avoid disruptions or forcing the host to direct their focus to permitting your entry.
Turn On Your Camera
Even when you are not actively speaking, no one likes to talk to a blank screen. In small meetings, you should use video unless you are taking the call from the road. In large presentations, it’s appreciated when a speaker has a face to engage with. You should also assume all video calls are being recorded, so make sure you stay focused, engaged and that you’re dressed appropriately. If there are others in your workspace, make sure they know you are on a call so they don’t interrupt. If you happen to login to a meeting after it’s started, wait to turn on your sound or video until you can be sure you don’t disrupt an ongoing conversation.
Understand Cultural Etiquette
Learning how associates abroad speak, dress and conduct business is one of the best investments you can make and helps you connect with people on a personal level. In some cultures, it’s offensive to not greet someone with a handshake or use honorary titles. Do some research to find out ways you can show respect to your associate and their culture despite limitations of a video meeting.
Have An Interpreter
If you, your partner or anyone on the call doesn’t speak English as their native language, it’s best to have someone who can serve as an interpreter. The last thing you want is for something to be miscommunicated or someone not understand a part of the conversation.
The same rules for in-person meetings apply to video conference calls. Stay focused and give your full attention to anyone on the other line. One of the downsides of videoconferencing is maintaining eye contact, so place a post-it note or visual cue above your camera to give you a focus point. Looking there is just like looking another person in the eye and it will make your call that much more personal.
Err on the side of caution and always assume that a colleague staring at a screen is participating in a videoconference. Text, email or instant message your coworker if you need them and exercise caution if you need to interrupt them at their desk.
If you are concerned about how to adapt your business to the changing economy or difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia Department of Commerce has developed a resource directory for businesses and communities. If you have any questions, contact us today.