Technology is increasingly becoming a nuclear component of our daily lives and the sky doesn’t seem to be the limit in the perceivable future.
Time is definitely the biggest commodity in today’s fast paced hectic lifestyle, with humans constantly pushing the boundaries to find more and more creative ways of saving it, saving money and sparing themselves of unnecessary stress.
With the skyrocketing popularity of internet and its bandwidth, video conferencing systems have become the norm from both business and individual perspectives. Nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to record and stream video, call thousands of participants, join a multiparty call from a smartphone or tablet, as well as seeing other people in crystal-clear HD – even when they are across the globe.
But like any technology, there are still human and environmental elements that can affect its success. Just as an email will not be effective if there are typos, or a phone call may be a disaster if someone answers in a noisy shared office space, a video call won’t be productive if lighting and sound issues take over.
Therefore, successful videoconferencing is predicated on the combination of two variables: mastering technology and effectively engaging with participants.
With that in mind, make sure you put your best foot forward on all video meetings by following these Golden Rules.
1. Audio & Video Quality Testing
Arriving before a videoconference starts to test both system and interface must be literally engraved in stone. This is also the ideal way to double check aspects related with lighting and background issues. Also, and as a contingency measure, securing back channels for communication with the other participants is naturally a good practice, avoiding any communication interruptions.
2. The Importance of Lighting
Windows may work wonderfully for natural light in a home office, but on a video call, they can negatively impact the quality of light by either washing one out (excessive brightness) or by providing too much backlight (excessive darkness).
One should minimize combining outside light with indoor fluorescent lighting to prevent problems with the videoconference camera and the quality of image, assuring that the room has adequate lighting for the task at hands.
3. Eliminating Distractions
Microphones on embedded or USB webcams are extremely sensitive and can magnify distracting background noises during a call. In the same way one would go to a quiet room for a phone call, making sure that the room used for the video call is equally quiet so that all participants can focus on what matters most is a good precaution.
4. Headset Usage
Wearing headset may look a bit silly, but it can work wonders when it comes to audio quality on a video call – specially if you are calling from a computer. Not only do it virtually eliminate distracting echoes, it can also contribute to the improvement of the listening quality by other participants, since the microphone is closer to the mouth than a USB or embedded webcam.
5. To Mute or not to Mute?
When not using a headset, muting oneself while not talking for long periods is one of the best alternatives that can be enforced, since unmuted microphones can be the single most important problem communicating during a videoconference meeting. This will significantly reduce the chance of echoing and audio distortion.
6. Communication Effectiveness
Conducting oneself in a normal voice is key, as well as speaking directly to the microphone and avoiding head turning.
When sharing desktops, it is easy for one to get carried away and concentrate deeply on what one’s doing; but just like an in-person meeting, it is always a good idea to break once in awhile and re-establish eye contact with the audience.
Once talking has been initiated, going with it and assuming that everything is fine from a technological standpoint is the best policy. If any problems arise, interruption by third parties is guaranteed.
Being natural is also mandatory, as well as limiting movement to avoid screen jerkiness [if in need of walking while speaking, limit movements to a small area and walk slowly].
7. Video Conference Etiquette
When one’s microphone is on, side conversations, paper rustle or tapping sounds near it must be avoided. All sounds will be heard by the other participants and may reveal themselves to be a distraction.
Questions must be directed to a specific participant. Experiencing a few extra seconds of delay while getting an answer due to technology and distance related aspects is perfectly normal.
Looking directly at the camera as often as possible is also a must enforce rule, since it will provide the remote site with the impression that one is looking directly at them.
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