Every social and professional setting comes with certain rules of etiquette. As meetings move from the boardroom to our living rooms, it is still important to remain professional on a virtual platform. But video conferencing can bring about a lot of opportunities to commit faux pas.
Keep reading for a list of eight things you should steer clear of when video conferencing from home. You can also explore ViewSonic hardware and software for your next video conference.
Advances in modern technology and evolving expectations from employees have helped many companies to understand and embrace the benefits of video conferencing from home. From the greater level of flexibility provided to the morale-boosting potential, there are many advantages to be aware of, but there are also potential issues.
In particular, those taking part in video calls tend to dislike inefficiency, distractions, and technical issues, while there are also social faux pas that can have colleagues talking about you for all the wrong reasons. In this article, we explore some of the pitfalls of video conferencing by focusing on eight things you should never do.
1. Avoid Inappropriate Attire When Video Conferencing From Home
While video conferencing does allow you to communicate with work colleagues from the comforts of your own home, you still need to look presentable. After all, you are still attending the workplace – albeit virtually. With this in mind, it is important to avoid dressing inappropriately for the situation.
Unless you have been specifically told that it is acceptable, you should avoid wearing extremely casual clothes, with pajamas representing an especially poor choice. While you will almost certainly not need to wear formal attire, you do need to take basic care with the way you present yourself and try to remember that you are in a work meeting.
You should opt for clothes in solid colors with no or minimal patterns. If you would like to wear accessories, keep them simple and small. Be mindful of your grooming as well – hair should be neat and face clear of blemish. In all, just remember that you are still in a corporate environment and that requires a level of professionalism.
2. Do Not Neglect the Mute Button for Your Microphone
The vast majority of mainstream video conferencing applications include options to mute your microphone, and you should learn to make use of it. In fact, try to get into the habit of pressing the mute button any time you are not speaking. Then, you can unmute yourself when you do need to contribute to the discussion. If you use the mute button wisely, you can greatly reduce the chances of a video conferencing disaster.
Background noises picked up by your microphone can be distracting for others on the video call, while there is also the potential that your microphone might pick up things you do not want it to, such as family members in the house with you. Some of the worst video conferencing faux pas have included people who thought they were talking to themselves, but their microphone picked up every word, leading to embarrassment and even disciplinary action.
3. Steer Clear of Closed or Negative Body Language When Possible
Various studies over the years have attempted to address the role that body language plays in communication. You may have heard, for example, of the 7-38-55 rule, which states that just 7 percent of communication is expressed through the spoken word, while 38 percent of meaning is conveyed through tone and the remaining 55 percent is body language.
With video conferencing, that 55 percent remains just as significant, so you need to take care of your body language. Making a good impression also counts during a video conference. Try to be conscious about what your facial expressions may be conveying and adopt a good posture. It is common to want to lean your face into your hands, but that might reflect poorly on your attitude or commitment to the virtual meeting.
Eye contact is another important part of communications, even though you are staring into a camera. Position your webcam so that you can look at your screen to appear engaged and focused. A good video conferencing monitor will have a built-in webcam intelligently positioned to ensure maximum eye contact. Some might even have ergonomic features so that you can tilt the screen to best fit your eye level and still be presentable.
4. Try Not to Position Yourself Somewhere That Could Be Distracting
With the advent of video conferencing, comes the peering eyes of your colleagues and their judgment on your interior design. To be more presentable, you should try to make sure you are located somewhere where you will not become a distraction to others in the session, so try to avoid areas of the house where there may be clutter or potential activity behind you.
Place yourself before a plain and simple background with tasteful décor and remove any clutter such as visible computer wires and laundry out of sight. You might also want to be mindful of the light source. If you do not have access to natural sunlight, you might want to invest in a ring light to distribute light evenly for better close-ups.
While not everyone has a room with a view, the best option to work around that is to make use of digital backgrounds. In some cases, this can be difficult if your home does not have a huge amount of free space to work with. One possible solution here, if you are using a video conferencing solution like Zoom, is to make use of the digital backgrounds. However, you need to be careful and select a static background that is professional.
5. Never Go Into a Work Video Conference Call Unprepared
There is nothing more frustrating than taking part in a video conference where people are unprepared, so you need to take steps to avoid being the cause of other people’s frustration. This means you need to take the time to prepare for the video conference, and this is true whether you are organizing the session or simply participating.
In terms of the actions you need to carry out, you must make sure you understand the reason for the meeting, and you need to have carried out any necessary preparation work in advance. Additionally, you also need to take the time to make sure your equipment works and to test your internet connection. If technical issues can be addressed ahead of time, unnecessary delays or disruptions can be avoided.
6. Do Not Interrupt or Talk Over People When They Are Speaking
One of the biggest problem areas here is interrupting people when they are talking. If you are someone who tends to interrupt or talk over people, make a conscious effort to stop doing it.
Video conferencing can only be truly successful when those participating have a fair chance to contribute to the discussion, share ideas and ask questions. As an article for The Guardian points out, men have a particular tendency to dominate conversations, so sometimes it is important to take a step back and allow others to have their say.
Those who are in positions of influence can also help by pointing out when interruptions occur and by allowing the person who was interrupted to have a chance to finish the point they were making. If you need to offer a comment or suggestion, some video conferencing platforms offer a ‘hands-up’ button to indicate that you would like to speak. Often, the host of the meeting will then give you time to voice your thoughts when available.
7. Resist the Temptation to Take the Discussion Off-Topic
Work meetings do have a social element, but they should also have a clear purpose. Occasionally going off on a tangent is understandable and meetings can work perfectly well with the occasional off-topic remark, but you do need to make a real effort to focus on the topic at hand and try to stick to it as much as possible.
Research published by the Harvard Business Review found that 71 percent of senior managers felt their business meetings were “unproductive and inefficient”. With this in mind, it is crucial that you do try to prioritize comments, questions, and contributions that are relevant to the purpose of the meeting. People are much more likely to feel like their time has been wasted if irrelevant discussions occur.
8. Avoid Unnecessary Multi-Tasking or Distractions During a Meeting
While remote work has many different benefits for employees and employers alike, there are also some potential pitfalls or problems with working from home, and becoming distracted by your surroundings is a good example. To get the most from video conferencing, you need to avoid any unnecessary multi-tasking and maintain your focus.
For example, you may find yourself becoming distracted by other work-related matters like responding to emails or trying to continue work while in the meeting. Equally, you may find yourself attempting to multi-task in other ways, like eating your lunch while on the video call or using your smartphone to browse the internet. Regardless, you need to remove distractions and pay full attention to the meeting.
Video conferencing from home has the power to break down some long-standing work barriers and allow for greater flexibility, but you will need to make an effort to avoid some of the pitfalls and faux pas too. Generally, the main things to avoid are distractions, becoming a distraction yourself, and actions that can hinder efficiency and productivity.
For more dos and don’ts of video conferencing, this helpful guide will take you through four things you should practice and another four not to. If you would like to know more about the best video conferencing setup, you may like to check out ViewSonic’s equipment to help support your next virtual meeting.