The basics of an online video call may seem obvious, and yet participants still frequently commit faux pas and slow down the communication process by letting avoidable annoyances interrupt the flow of dialogue. You can never go wrong with reviewing the basics, but make sure you truly integrate them into the way you approach video calls. Don’t just do a quick check on your equipment, hope you have the right screens closed, or assume that your pet is nowhere near your home office to cause distractions. You need to check and double check these things, since all it takes is a single distraction to seriously derail any train of thought, much less a creative conversation with colleagues.
Here are three of the most important basics that are worth reviewing:
1. The Equipment and Preparation
Your first rule of thumb is to use a video conferencing provider who gets the job done. Blue Jeans online video call offers support and services in multiple languages and locations, and is your best bet for working with a pro provider. While there are many free conferencing apps and web-based systems out there on the market, are they really reliable enough to stake your business meetings on? Free services are notoriously glitchy, and while a free service may serve just fine to talk to your relatives, not so much for professional colleagues.
Once you get the right provider, then you’ll be dealing with equipment. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be in a conference room with dedicated equipment. In this day and age, video conferencing can take place between devices as diverse as that same large system outfitted in a conference room and a mobile device. This is where your first rule of thumb comes in, though, and that’s to make sure you’re prepared. For example, if you’re video conferencing in the cloud with a mobile device, Cloud Tweaks recommends always having a fully charged extra battery at hand in case your smartphone or tablet dies in the middle of the conversation. Prep for technical difficulties or support is essential.
2. The Risks of Screen Sharing
Screen sharing on online video calls can be one of the most useful features of using video conferencing for communication, but you need to be careful that you don’t have the wrong content on screen. When you join a video meeting, don’t just minimize other windows, but fully close out any personal items on your computer if you’re going to be screen sharing during a video call. In fact, FlexJobs recommends advising your employees to assume that everything on their screen can be seen, whether it’s other open programs, a web browser, or a bored facial expression. It’s better to play it safe than sorry, so always ensure that all of your apps in the background are shut down before joining in on a video call, regardless of what type of device you’re using. The last thing you want is for your boss to see just how long you’ve been playing Neko Atsume.
3. Distractions at Home or the Office
Online video calls are used for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to connect staff separated by distance, or conferring with an off-site team member who works from home. Either way, never forget that distractions are going to pose a major issue for your call. It may seem easy to write off this fact since you can just send people away or close your door, but you’ll find that it’s more bothersome than first anticipated. Take pains from your very first call to shut your office or home office door, make sure your dog is occupied in another room, and someone is taking care of your child. Approach a video call the same way you would an in-person meeting.
There are also expected distractions that no one likes, and then there are distractions you might think are cute. The truth of the matter though is that no one else on a video conference call will think your cat crawling across your keyboard is adorable or that your overexcited dog barking in the background is endearing. Make sure you’re aware of how your presentation is coming off, because if you present poorly and unprofessionally, colleagues are going to remember.
Online video calls can be one of the most useful tools in your arsenal of communication tools, but you need to know how to use it properly. Systems that are offered today have many benefits and features you may not even be aware of, but it’s important to start with the basics. Although it’s often a no brainer to figure out that you should shut your door during a conference call, you’d be surprised as how many people still don’t do it. Making sure you follow basic parameters and procedures when you’re participating in online video calls is your first step toward not only utilizing the technology to its fullest potential, but also maximizing your professionalism.