10 of our favorite video conferencing tips

Video conferencing is a highly technical, extremely complicated technology that has been structured from the ground up to be as simple and user-friendly as possible. Although video conferencing has only emerged as a truly viable medium in recent years, it has established itself as an attractive option for communicating with friends, family, colleagues and clients. Despite its simplicity, there are many things you can do – or not do – to ensure a great virtual meeting.

1. Giving and taking – questions and answers – are the foundation of communication. In a video conference, you are hampered by the fact that not everyone is sitting in front of you. This is especially evident when you ask a question, since it can sometimes be difficult for your attendees to know who you’re talking to. Be sure to include a person’s name at the beginning of your question.

2. An issue specific to virtual meetings is the mute button. Mute buttons are essential to an orderly and quiet meeting, and their use should be encouraged. However, they can slow down Q&A sessions, especially impromptu ones. When you ask someone a question, give them a few seconds to respond. This gives them time to unmute.

3. When everyone is separate, it is difficult to reach consensus. Asking people to raise their hand if they agree only works in smaller video conferences where you have a window for each person. With larger calls or multiple meeting rooms, it can be impossible to get an accurate answer. Formulate your questions to get the fewest number of answers. For example, don’t ask if everyone understands; ask who doesn’t understand.

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4. Video conferencing technology is hi-tech, but that just means it does what it’s supposed to. Yelling or speaking loudly is not only annoying, but also indicates inexperience in dealing with virtual meeting technology. Speak in a normal tone of voice. Don’t worry, they will hear you.

5. If you can’t help but worry about people not being able to hear you, test your tone first. At the beginning of the conference, let your participants introduce you. Not only does this help break the ice, but it also allows you to hear their volume and sound quality. If you’re still concerned about your own performance, just ask someone if they can hear you well.

6. It may feel counterintuitive, but you shouldn’t look at the people on your screen too often, especially when you’re talking to them. The best place to look while speaking is straight into the camera lens. Your participants will get the impression that you are looking directly at them. This creates a more trusted, enjoyable experience between them and you.

7. If you’ve got your preparations right, you’ll know exactly how far you can move in front of your camera. Use your mouse as an anchor point to help you hit your “target”. Of course, hold onto the mouse while setting up your camera. Then, as you rock back and forth, notice how far your arm bends or stretches. When you’re live, you can keep yourself on screen without distracting yourself.

8. Unless you’ve slashed your video conferencing setup by $50,000-$150,000, you’re not going to have perfectly smooth, indistinguishable video from real life. So you have to stick to the limitations of your equipment and bandwidth and those of your participants. The most important thing to remember is to keep your gestures small and your movements slower than normal. A little attention to this detail minimizes choppy effects.

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9. Your clothes say a lot about you, but through a video conference, some clothes say it out loud. To have the best view of you, try to dress in light pastels and muted colors. Bright, gaudy colors can make your skin look weird on screen. Avoid wearing very light or very dark colors to avoid white balance or contrast issues. Busy patterns should also be avoided.

10. While your attire tells your attendees about you, this is also where you hold your conference. Aside from the obvious point that what you have on your desk and behind you will make an impression on your attendees, it can also hurt your video quality. Try to have a clean or sheer background with a neutral color. Keep all areas visible to the camera clean and tidy. Not only will you look better on screen, it says something about how you work.

Video conferencing is a great way to save money, time, and energy while getting as much or more work done than before. They’re hi-tech and worth a lot of “cool” points in the business world. With the investment of time and planning, your video conferencing can be like the technology itself: complicated, but smooth and cutting-edge.