Business Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips

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As with any meeting, certain rules apply when conducting and attending a video conference. Just as you would for a meeting that is being held in person, you should:

  • Be on time.
  • Dress for business.
  • Be prepared.
  • Pay attention.

But a video conference, by its very nature, has its own unique set of problems and rules regarding meeting etiquette. This article looks at some of the more common ones.

Running the meeting

Because a video conference involves contributions from participants who are not present in the room, the person chairing the meeting needs to encourage regular participation from each location. This is so that one or two people don’t end up dominating the conversation, leaving remote participants out of sight and out of mind.

The chairperson should introduce themselves and have every participant do the same. Then, during the meeting, they should identify each participant before they speak, so that everyone knows who is talking, including the person taking the minutes.

Technical issues

Microphones should be positioned at each location so that participants can be heard clearly, and as one person finishes speaking they should mute their microphone to prevent background noise while the next person is speaking.

Everyone should talk in normal voices rather than shouting, and should wait a second or so after someone finishes speaking before replying to prevent what is known as ‘double-talk’, where delay overlaps the two voices.

When speaking via a video link, it is tempting to look at the person on the screen while talking to them, but if you wish to make eye contact (which is recommended), then you need to be looking at the camera rather than the screen, as this is where the person at the other end is viewing you from.

Etiquette no-no’s

Things you should not do during a video conference include:

  • Conduct a conversation on the side. Not only is this distracting for other participants, but can often be overheard which could prove embarrassing.
  • Multi-task. While it can be tempting to check your emails or work on a document during a long meeting, multi-tasking means you are not focusing on what is being said, and could result in an awkward question that you can’t answer because you haven’t been paying attention.
  • Create background noise. Rustling papers, scraping chairs and tapping pens are all amplified by your microphone, so don’t fiddle during a meeting and mute your microphone when not actively participating.

Video conferencing is rapidly becoming as commonplace as regular boardroom meetings due to the huge savings it offers in travel costs. But if a video conference is to be successful, particularly when it involves new clients or overseas participants, it is important to observe the correct etiquette to avoid misunderstandings and ensure clear communications between all parties.

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