Understanding the dos and don’ts of web conferencing is important because it helps to improve the quality of communication in virtual spaces, enhance overall productivity in businesses, boost the quality of learning in educational environments, and avoid situations where you accidentally come across as unprofessional.
Read on to explore our list of things you should do and the things you should avoid with web conferencing. You may also like to explore ViewSonic hardware and software designed for web conferencing.
As concepts like hybrid learning and remote work grow, the role of online communication is going to continue to expand. This makes it important for everyone to understand some of the main dos and don’ts of web conferencing.
After all, even prior to the transformation brought on by the pandemic, 55 percent of companies allowed for remote work, and 30 percent of employees were considered full-time remote workers. This is before even touching upon the rapid rise of distance learning in schools and universities, which is also hugely reliant on web conferencing.
In work and learning environments where web conferencing plays a large role, faux pas and technical issues can greatly hinder the effectiveness of this communication form, and nobody wants to be the cause of unnecessary disruption. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the dos and don’ts you should try to keep in mind.
4 Dos of Web Conferencing
Invest in the Right Equipment
The equipment you use will be a significant factor in having either a positive or negative web conferencing experience, so it is worth taking the time to find the best options. The precise equipment you use may depend on the nature of the web conference, but some common equipment will include a webcam and a headset with a built-in microphone.
If you are going to be participating in video conferences on a regular basis, it may be worthwhile to invest in a more purpose-built video conferencing monitor. These monitors will often include a camera, microphone, and integrated audio, while also offering privacy features and a high-definition screen to make multi-person conferences safe and easy to follow.
Take Time to Test Your Connection
Before you begin your web conference, you need to take the time to test your internet connection. The easiest way to do this is to run a free speed test, so that you can double-check that your internet speeds are sufficiently high to cope with the demands of the conference, without causing issues that may affect clarity.
Many video conferencing applications also include their own options for testing, allowing you to gain a sense of how your connection is likely to perform during a conference while also allowing you to test out your hardware. Making use of these features is another good way to avoid running into problems during meetings, lessons, or events.
Eliminate Sources of Distraction
While it is important to take steps to avoid distracting others, it is equally important to take sensible measures to minimize the chances of you becoming distracted during a web conference too. Some of this can be achieved by making sure your web conferencing setup is located in a conducive place, but there are further steps to consider.
For example, if you have a mobile phone nearby and you are not going to need it for the web conference, either turn it off or make sure it is on silent and avoid checking it constantly. You should also make sure your television is turned off, and you should steer clear of any web browser tabs that are not relevant to the conference.
Make a Good First Impression
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, which is especially true with web conferencing, where people are likely to make snap judgments about you based on a number of factors. One of the easiest ways to make a good first impression is to make sure you are on time and ready to go when the conference begins.
Beyond this, depending on the nature of the conference, you may need to give careful consideration to what you are wearing and how you present yourself. Additionally, according to Business Insider, your body language can play a key role here, so try to adopt good posture, maintain eye contact, smile, and try to project confidence.
As with all professional settings, it is important to look your best during a web conference. Wear properly fitting solid-coloured clothes and avoid loud patterns. Check your appearance before signing into the meeting – making sure hair, teeth, and makeup, if using, are presentable. Last but not least, ensure that there is ample light behind your camera to avoid unflattering shadows when on camera.
4 Don’ts of Web Conferencing
Don’t Use a Messy Background
If you are going to be visible at a web conference, it is important that the background is not messy or otherwise distracting. If you are participating in the conference from your own home or from the workplace, take the time to position yourself and your equipment so that the background is as clean and tidy as possible.
Many web conferencing software solutions, including Microsoft Teams and Zoom, allow you to use a digital background, which can be valuable in situations where you are unable to position yourself in an ideal location. However, if you are going to make use of this feature, select a sensible background that feels appropriate for the meeting.
Don’t Interrupt People When They Speak
It is also critical that everyone involved in web conferencing sessions adheres to basic etiquette, which means avoiding the temptation to speak over people or interrupt them when they are mid-sentence. Research published in the New York Times suggests women can find it especially difficult to be heard in web conferences and online meetings.
From a survey of around 68,000 people, more than half of the women reported that they had experienced being interrupted in work discussions, while 38 percent said they had experienced others taking credit for their ideas. For web conferencing to be successful, everyone should feel they have a voice, and this will sometimes require you to stay quiet.
Don’t Be Tempted to Multi-Task
When participating in a web conference, you may feel tempted to try to multi-task, whether that means reading something else on your computer screen or trying to continue with the work you were doing before the session. However, it is important to avoid this temptation for a number of reasons.
Firstly, if you are visible to other people via a webcam, they may notice that you are not giving the web conference your undivided attention. This can not only come across as rude but might also distract other participants. Additionally, if you are not paying attention, you might miss crucial information or an opportunity to make a valuable contribution.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use the Mute Button
As an article for Entrepreneur.com points out, the mute button on your microphone can be invaluable when it comes to improving the quality of web conferencing for others. When possible, try to get into the habit of muting your microphone when you are not speaking or likely to need to interject quickly.
Muting your microphone in this way will prevent it from picking up any unwanted background noises, as well as sounds that you might make, which could range from simply breathing to drinking a cup of coffee to typing of the keyboard and a car honk. Of course, you also need to get into the habit of taking the microphone off mute each time you need to speak.
The rise of distance learning, remote work, and hybrid models has made web conferencing a fundamental part of modern life. When used effectively, web conferences can help to bring people together, break down the traditional barriers associated with a physical location, and allow for much more flexible approaches to teaching and employment.
Nevertheless, it is important that you take the time to understand some of the main dos and don’ts of web conferencing too. Once you have this awareness, you are less likely to distract people, become distracted yourself, commit faux pas or mistakes in etiquette, or adversely affect the overall quality of communication.
It is important to understand that while we can foster for a better video conferencing environment as individuals, we also need to learn about the pros and cons of remote collaboration and the right tools for support.