How to make the ideal video conference in times of teleworking

The use of video conferencing reached stratospheric levels when the global COVID pandemic forced us to confine ourselves at home. It was the way to maintain communication (even if it was digital) with family and friends, and fulfill study tasks at home and work.

The use of video conferencing is here to stay. Teleworking has always been the case, but the pandemic also brought profound changes in work environments in favor of hybrid environments. In companies, in addition to specialized applications that also provide collaboration and productivity, there are many other details to take into account.

Tips for the ideal video conference

If to chat with a friend, it may be worth turning on your laptop (or mobile), clicking on the application and starting the webcam, connecting with the boss of your company, the tutor at your university or with a human resources department to apply for a job, requires another type of attitude, behavior, clothing, home office care… There are things to do and others to avoid. We review the main ones.

Fix your environment

  • Clean the room and desk. There are environments that are terrifying…
  • Check the background that will be visible behind you and make sure there is nothing inappropriate. A target with the boss’s face, for example. Or worse things.
  • Choose a secluded space, preferably with a door, so you can hold the meeting without distractions.
  • In this regard, silence your mobile phone to avoid interruptions.
  • Inform the family about the meeting time. Are you working. Or doing a virtual exam.
  • If you have young children, make sure they stay occupied for the duration of the video conference.
  • Keep your pets away from the meeting area.
  • Choose a virtual background in apps like Microsoft Teams and Zoom to hide cluttered backgrounds.
  • Have water and tea/coffee on hand in case the video conference runs long.

Attention to clothing

  • Think of video conferencing as an in-person meeting and follow the right habits. You cannot be in underwear, panties or naked from the stomach down. The webcam can slide an centimeter down and what happens happens… everything has been seen.
  • Take care of your cleanliness before sitting down for the meeting. If you have your mother on the other side there is no problem; Mothers forgive everything. But you can see some things… Imagine that you want to flirt with the girl of your dreams.
  • For more serious topics, project a professional face (even if it costs you) as it adds a sense of normality to a remote conversation.
  • Wear comfortable, but “presentable” clothing, and avoid colors that are too bright or too dark. Adjust the exposure and brightness of the webcam well so that you are seen as best as possible.
  • Look at the camera with good posture. And preferably at a desk, not lying on the couch.

Set up your equipment and furniture

  • Choose a comfortable chair to sit on.
  • In professional meetings use a monitor that allows you to easily view slides and spreadsheets. The screen of a smartphone is only useful for informal meetings.
  • Invest in a good noise-cancelling headset.
  • Learn to handle the chat application you are going to use with ease. Some are very simple, but others that provide productivity or collaboration are more complex.
  • Pay special attention to any settings you may need during the meeting.
  • Avoid backlighting as it can obscure your face. Natural light or overhead lights are ideal.
  • Nothing is as important in video conferencing as good bandwidth. Use the best Internet connection available.
  • If the meeting is critical, have an alternative connection ready. For example, you can set up a standalone Wi-Fi hotspot using smartphone data.
  • Close unnecessary background applications and programs that use a lot of bandwidth.
  • Turn off notifications for the course of the meeting.
  • Test your equipment with someone you trust before the actual meeting.
  • Try the webcam. The background, the frame that will be seen and the effect of the light indoors.
  • Place your webcam at eye level so you can make eye contact with other people in the meeting.
  • If you plan to share your screen, make sure to keep your personal data away. Or inappropriate content.

Manage your time and that of others

  • Schedule the video conference well in advance.
  • Always arrive on time. It’s helpful to be online a few minutes before the meeting starts.
  • If you can’t attend the meeting or will be late, let the person running the meeting know in advance.
  • Turn on and activate your conference equipment beforehand to avoid last-minute technical issues.
  • Avoid serious video conferences away from the desk. On the subway or in the car, a video conference is neither safe nor efficient.
  • Consider an audio meeting as a last resort.

Organize your thoughts

  • If you are leading the meeting, set a clear agenda with start and end times.
  • Keep all necessary data as accessible as possible.
  • Mark everything relevant to the meeting.
  • Clean up your desktop to keep the right information accessible at a glance.
  • Write down the queries so that you can present them at the right time.
  • Share content and files before the meeting to ensure that all participants are prepared for the discussion.

Take care of your manners

  • Introduce yourself if all team members are not familiar with each other.
  • Remember that facial expressions convey your thoughts in the absence of other gestures or audio.
  • Use visual cues (such as a raised palm) to indicate that you want to talk.
  • Participate by speaking clearly into the microphone. Staying silent or disabling your webcam is like filling in a real meeting.
  • Mute your microphone when you are not speaking if it is not capable of canceling background noise.
  • If you need to move around in the middle of a meeting to complete personal tasks, turn off the video to avoid distractions.
  • Wait for the other person to finish speaking. It is difficult to talk all together in a virtual meeting.
  • Don’t eat during a meeting. Just water, liquids, coffee or tea.

Stay present

  • Avoid multitasking or drifting to social networks, messaging apps when you are in a video conference.
  • To make eye contact with a meeting participant, look at the camera and not at the person’s face or background.
  • Use the text chat feature if available to support queries and to link to relevant documents.
  • If you led the meeting, be sure to log off last. And a warm smile or greeting at the end of the meeting… even if it didn’t go as well as you expected.

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