How to Video Conference Like a Pro
Video conferencing seems to be wiggling its way further and further into our working lives. It’s become a popular way to have a face-to-face meeting without having to leave our desks. Participants can be on the other side of the country, or indeed the other side of the world, and still communicate effectively.
We’ve compiled a set of sure-fire tips which will make sure your video conference calls are productive, and worth-while every time. They address some of the most common mistakes made during work-related video conference calls.
Always consider your environment before your conference starts. Other conference participants are going to be able to see and hear you during the session. You need to make sure you are in a suitable place to carry out your conference. You should bear in mind the following:
Try to minimise this by moving to a quieter location or using a headset with a noise cancelling microphone.
This may seem trivial, but for important video calls such as video job interviews it’s important to many people that they present a good image. Overhead lighting should be avoided, with a preference for natural light sources, ideally one behind your camera and one behind you as the participant.
Make it clear that you mean business and don’t want to be disturbed by colleagues. This will interrupt the flow of your video conference.
Check what’s behind you
Remember that participants don’t just see you, they also see part of the place you’re in. You may want to hide certain items or simply clear the room to prevent distractions. After all, you want your participants to focus on you when you’re speaking.
Keep a tidy desk
This way you’ll make a good impression to any new participants. Some say a clear desk means a clear mind.
Test your connection
A good connection to the web is essential for video conferencing. If you’re not sure what bandwidth you have, many conferencing platforms including Call.Group have connection testing features built in. As a general rule, an HD video conference with 2 participants would require between 1 and 1.5 Mbps bandwidth. For each additional participant add 1Mbps, so and 8-way video call would require each participants to have between 8 and 8.5Mb speeds. Most UK connections will easily meet this requirement.
10 minutes before your video conference starts, stop whatever else you’re doing and go over what you’re expecting from the conference and what needs to be covered. If your days are busy and varied, this is your buffer zone to get into your video conferencing headspace. If there’s an agenda set – revise it. And make sure you’ve actually written down any questions that would be good to ask or any topics you’d like to cover.
Unless there is a good reason not to record your video conference, it can be a useful feature to have switched on. You never know when you might want to go back and re-listen to a meeting at a later date. This can be useful when you need a reminder of any small details or for example to get a second look at a job candidate you’ve interviewed.
Too often video conference participants are seen staring down at their notes or squinting at other applications on their computer screens. The purpose of a video conference should be to mimic the concept of a real face-to-face interaction. If your meeting doesn’t require this kind of interaction, consider going audio only. If it does, make sure you’re looking up and engaging with other participants.
As human beings, we naturally default to looking at our computer screens during video conference calls, but one trick to increase the engagement of your participants is to look directly at your camera when you’re speaking. It may feel a little unnatural at first, but it really can increase engagement. This is particularly useful when you want to instil trust in your participants, for example during a meeting with a prospective client. Once you are done talking, you can go back to looking at your screen and watching others communicate back to you. It’s a good habit to get in to.
Remember that modern video conferencing tools often come with a whole host of added features which can really help you to communicate during your conference call. Consider the following added tools to enrich your meetings:
This is an excellent feature to accompany a video conference. Many online meeting solutions like Call.Group allow you to show either your entire screen, or a single application. This means you can easily demonstrate and talk through processes on websites, documents, or anything else on your computer.
This allows participants to upload document files to the video conference room, and present them easily, page by page. The organiser can flick between pages of the document much like in a traditional face-to-face powerpoint presentation.
File sharing and Web chat
With more basic video conferencing platforms you may have to send important items separately – think usernames, telephone numbers, and important files. But with a fully fledged online meeting solution, you can do everything from within your video conference room. You can send text messages and files to your participants quickly and easily.