Video Conferencing Tips and Etiquette
August 27, 2008 @ 11:38 AM | By Brian Trampler & Sara O'Rourke
You were just told that you have to lead a video conference. Is it time to panic? Not at all, it is time to relax. You won’t need to be on the road for hours, pack the night before, thinking about going through security, bringing your passport, or even making sure you wear a pair of socks that don’t have any threadbare spots for when you take off your shoes. Instead, you can sleep in your own bed, show up at your own office the next day, and go home to your normal evening routine.
In order to help you relax, here are some tips and tricks that will help you to look your best, and create a lasting impression. And in the process you’ll even discover how easy it is to be on camera and convey your message.
How to test the equipment:
- Familiarize yourself with the equipment so you feel comfortable using it. It doesn’t mean you need to be an expert, just knowing the basics can go a long way.
- Make sure you have the video number(s) or IP address of the site you want to call or that the site is listed in a directory.
- Set your camera presets before you start your call so you can quickly use them during the call. Depending on the system you call, you may also be able to use the presets stored on the far-site system.
- Add peripherals to your system to expand its use. For example, you can add a DVD player if you want to show a DVD. Connect and test your peripheral before any meeting.
- Make sure someone is in the room 15 minutes prior to meeting start time to test audio and video connectivity.
How to look great on camera:
- Avoid wearing bright colors or white because bright colors “bleed” over video and white will throw off the camera’s white balance.
- Avoid “busy” patterns (such as small checks or narrow stripes) because they cause the camera’s focus to oscillate. Light pastels and muted colors look best on-screen.
- If there are windows in the room, close any drapes or blinds. Daylight is a variable light source and can conflict with interior room lighting.
- Verify that overhead lights and/or reflections are not in view.
- Do not use rapid gestures when you speak.
- Try to fill the camera’s screen as much as possible with people rather than tables, chairs, walls, lights, etc. .
How to make that content shine:
- Check that your computer has the application you need to show your documents, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Project, or Word.
- For a smoother presentation, be sure your file, videotape, or DVD is ready to show. Test it before you start or join the video call.
How to sound great:
- Speak in your normal voice without shouting.
- Ask the people at the other site if they can hear you.
- Have them introduce themselves so you can be sure you can hear them.
- Mute the microphone before moving it during a meeting.
- Keep your system on mute if you are not speaking. Just remember to take your system off of mute before you talk.
- Since the audio has a very slight delay, you may want to pause briefly for others to answer you or to make comments.
- As with any meeting, try to limit side conversations.
- Place the microphone on the table in front of the people in the meeting. If your room is very large, consider adding another microphone.
- If your video conferencing room is configured to use stereo sound, the microphones are positioned and configured during system setup. It is important that you do not move them, as this may detract from the stereo audio experience.
- Do not place papers or other objects on or in the way of the microphone, and don’t rustle papers, click your pen, or tap on the microphone or table.
And finally: Appreciate the fact that you’ve just saved yourself, your company, and your colleagues or clients a stress filled travel day. And savor the experience; it will be the first of many to come. If you have any questions on how to improve or prepare your video conference meetings – let’s hear them. Or, if you have another suggestion that has worked for you, please share it with us!
Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services. Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach. If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.