Whether you’re a remote “regular” or WFH (work from home) only when it feels right, you’ve likely gotten used to replacing your face-to-face meetings with conference calls. But when do you pull the trigger to connect via video?
Video conferencing best practices aren’t always easy to figure out, so all-too-often, you might be tempted to just default to a phone call. In fact, we’ve discovered there are plenty of taboos out there—from inappropriate clothing to unpleasant human sounds—that might be holding people back from having better, more productive video meetings.
As your trusty meeting experts, we’re answering top questions about video meetings so you’ll be more confident booking them with your team, your manager, and even that prospective client. It’s time to break the taboos that hold back better video conferencing, once and for all.
6 Questions You Might Be Too Afraid To Ask About Video Conferencing
When exactly should I use video?
Whenever you’re having a good hair day? Just kidding. The benefits to adding video are abundant—you can add a human touch to the conversation, read body language, and keep everyone’s attention in check. Video can add real depth to detailed project planning or a meaningful conversation with your boss. And if you’re in Sales or Customer Service, adding a friendly face to a call can quickly strengthen your relationships with prospects or customers. Think about the importance of the relationship and the purpose of the meeting to help decide whether to have it on video.
What tools do I need to run a really slick video meeting?
Good video conferences don’t require special equipment or a call to your IT department. The devices you’re using now most likely already have video functionality built-in, so you already have what you need right at your fingertips! Many PC and Mac laptops have a built-in webcam. Not sure or don’t see one? Don’t worry, you can use your mobile device! Mobile apps like join.me for iOS will let you host a video meeting from your best working piece of technology.
A solid internet connection will make your meeting run smoother, too. If your Wi-Fi is temperamental, you might want to use a hardwired connection via cable. Public internet (think: airports, coffee shops) is often bogged down with traffic, so setting up a hotspot from your mobile device to your laptop is good insurance for those really important meetings. Also, headphones that have a mic built-in are key for focusing your audio and drowning out distracting ambient noise.
Straight up, does it matter what I wear?
If you’re a regular remote worker, you might not be used to dressing for work (in fact, we know many of you prefer to spend WFH days in your pajamas!) But if you’re going to start weaving video into your meetings, you’ll need to put some thought to your wardrobe. Use your best judgement and dress the way you normally would if you were going into the office. If you’re meeting a prospect or customer for the first time, consider how you’d like to set the tone of your first impression. Here’s a tip: Block 15 minutes of “prep” time on your calendar before your call, to check a mirror and make any adjustments before you dial-in.
Where should I video in from when I’m working from home?
Remote work can be done from literally anywhere—and that can be problem. But you don’t need to have the perfect office to be professional.
You need to consider your surroundings before jumping on a video meeting. Don’t let your environment be a distraction to you or to others. Pick a place where you can remain the main focus on the video screen for your attendees (neutral background, no bright lights or sunlight streaming in, no random passers-by). When it comes to your monthly client meeting, an unmade bed covered in dirty laundry is straight up unprofessional.
And even more importantly, don’t put yourself in a place where your own eyes could wander. You’ll want to be able to keep eye contact with your meeting attendees throughout the call. If you are distracted, you’ll look distracted, which means you’ll come across bored, unprofessional, disconnected, rude…. and that’s never a good look.
How do we make video conferences with large groups less awkward?
Nowadays, it’s pretty common if half your team is remote and half your team is connecting from a conference room in the office. The important thing to remember when turning these into group video meetings is that each person should feel equally represented and present in the meeting.
Try to avoid having everyone in the office gathering around one camera and mic. It makes it hard to track conversations both visually (trying to see who’s talking) and audibly (with varying distances from the microphone). Instead, have everyone dial-in individually. This will help keep an even playing field in discussions, and your remote workers will feel they are being spoken to directly rather than just observing an in-office meeting. Video conferencing is not “Big Brother,” it’s an avenue for personal, face-to-face connection.
Awkwardness can also come in the form of weird distractions, like sniffling or squeaky drink straws. Be mindful of eating and drinking, and keep a box of tissues handy. Pro tip: Mute your mic when you’re not speaking for that extra level for audio comfort if you have a cold.
I need just a few minutes with my boss, and adding video would probably be valuable. Is it OK to request one on the fly?
This is an easy one—YES! Adding video to a meeting doesn’t have to be complicated. Setting up a team communication policy can help diffuse the awkwardness around requesting impromptu video meetings.
You’ll also want to make it easy to connect. Having a chosen video meeting provider like join.me for your team and an easy way to access the meeting set-up link will streamline the process so it doesn’t become a big production every time. For example, you can enable join.me’s Power-Up on your team’s Trello board, so won’t have to disrupt your workflow at all to get video going. Here’s how to set it up for your Trello team:
Breaking Video Meeting Taboos Once And For All
Slack, Trello, text, email, phone calls, video meetings… the ways to connect with people in a professional setting are only getting more complicated. However, video meeting etiquette doesn’t have to be. If nothing else, consider these six golden rules:
- Use video for strengthening relationships
- Have equipment that works
- Look professional
- Make sure everyone feels included
- Keep video access easily on hand
- Set up team rules to make video meetings more manageable
Once you break down those video taboos, we think you’ll be surprised at how positive the response will be!