Video Conferencing Etiquette – Is Yours Up to Scratch?

The increase in businesses utilizing video conferencing to conduct meetings and broadcast other important updates has been significant during the coronavirus pandemic – but is your etiquette up to scratch?

As many businesses and organizations in the UK have begun to re-introduce employees into post lockdown workplaces, there will still be a number of companies which will continue to ask workers to work from home or away from their usual premises.

To address the issues surrounding in-person meetings and large gatherings, it is likely that video conferencing and video calls have been put into place as a temporary solution for colleagues to communicate between themselves and management.

Whilst video conferencing is not an entirely new concept within the business world, the current worldwide situation has seen usage of video conferencing software such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams dramatically spike.

But whilst it is fairly simple to begin taking part in video conferencing and video calls, there are several considerations that need to be addressed in order to maintain professional standards during any call or meeting and to keep communications efficient.

Create a Simple Video Conferencing Lighting Setup

One of the first considerations to make when setting up video conferencing first time is to check that you are using the correct lighting and that the wall/scenery behind you during the call is free from clutter or distractions.

Jacqueline Whitmore, a Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, expands on the importance of correct lighting, commenting:

“As a general rule, avoid fluorescent lights, which can cast unflattering shadows.

Avoid overhead lights, too, as they can create dark under eye shadows.”

Whitmore adds:

“Place your primary light source behind your camera.

This way, the light and the camera point in the same direction.

As for the angle, the camera should be placed at your eye level.

If you are using a laptop, place something beneath it to raise it until your eyes are at the same level as the camera lens.”

Use a Neutral Backdrop

Whitmore also stresses that the use of a neutral backdrop is important when conducting or attending video conferences to maintain an organized and professional image, expanding:

“Whether you are at home or in a formal office, make sure your background is uncluttered and professional.

Less is more.

In other words, you may be fond of all those family pictures hanging on the wall but the person on the other side of the camera may find them distracting.

The same goes for anything that can make you look unprofessional – clutter, clothes, piles of boxes, food and beverages.”

In order to create the right type of backdrop when appearing on camera, Whitmore suggests sitting at your desk/chosen working station and taking a photo or screenshot before a video call so that you have better awareness of what others will be able to see.

She further comments:

“Remove objects on your desk or on your wall that may detract from your company’s brand.

Consider designating one wall as your company wall.

Invest in the colour and image of that wall and keep it consistent, as even if your clients know you’re a solo operation, they don’t need to be reminded that you are working from home.”

Dress Appropriately When Appearing on Camera

Whilst the current situation may mean you are working from your home and your routine and habits have changed, dressing appropriately when appearing on camera is crucial in helping to further promote correct business practice to your colleagues.

Technology Executive Amy Bailey, who manages a team of 10 remote workers from her home in California, expresses:

“Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you can dress like a slob – from the waist up, that is.

“I don’t expect my team to be perfect all the time, but make sure you’re dressed appropriately – pajamas aren’t an option!”

She adds:

“Zoom gives you the option to digitally touch up your appearance, using technology not dissimilar to an Instagram filter should you need it.

However, the touch-up option only blurs and brightens your complexion”

Mind Your Manners

Just like meetings that can be held in person, making sure to remember your manners and business etiquette when on a video conference remains a vital part in giving your colleagues the respect they are owed.

Bailey expresses:

“You wouldn’t openly browse Twitter during a meeting, so don’t do it in a video call.

Make eye contact with the camera – if you’re typing, mute your keyboard so other people don’t hear clicking.

Sit forward in your seat when others are talking, rather than slumping on your sofa – it shows your co-workers that you’re engaged.”

Additionally, Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor of organizational behaviour at San Francisco business school INSEAD, provides a solution for video conference calls that include a larger group of people.

He suggests that participants should look to raising their hand when wishing to speak.

“It’s easy to ignore people who aren’t in the room if the conversation is getting going.

Ask people to let you know if someone is raising their hand and you don’t see it.”

Stay Focused Whilst Video Conferencing is Taking Place

There can come a certain sense of unpredictability upon the first time taking part in video conferencing and there are also potential hurdles that can cause issues after this point too.

Jonathan Grant, CEO of British conference calling provider Babl Cloud, notes that anyone taking part in a video conference call should always be aware of how they act when on camera.

“People can see whether you’re listening or continually distracted and looking behind you.

They will see if you’re not there at all because you’ve gone to answer the door.”

He adds:

“Remember people are watching you.

There’s all sorts of things that can go wrong.

If there is noise in the background, then people should switch their video off and mute themselves to allow others to focus on the conversation.”

Related Articles You May Like

Is It Time to Switch to a Virtual Workplace?
How Smarter Offices Are Changing How We Work
Informal Office Spaces Favoured

Sam Rose