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Be Considerate of Your Fellow Conferencers
January 14, 2011 @ 02:00 PM | By Jill Huselton

We get questions all the time from customers wanting to know etiquette and best practices for audio conference calls, web conferences and video conferences. This week, Twitter was a flurry of tweets from people talking about a recent article from Inc. Magazine, 11 Do's & Don'ts of Video Conferencing Etiquette. I thought they were right on and wanted to share them.

While these tips specifically address video conferencing, may apply to audio conference calls or online meetings using web cams. I’ve listed them below, but you might want to also check out the pictures that go along with each point—they give you a little context and a chuckle (my favorite is the picture that goes with tip #5 that shows people making shadow puppets from the projector light).

Do be courteous to other participants
Be punctual and introduce yourself before speaking so that everyone knows who’s talking and can address you by name. Take note of the other speakers so that you can also address them by name. Lastly, turn off the sounds on your smart phone and absolutely no texting.

Don't make distracting sounds
Your focus should always be on the person or people at the other end of your video conference. Avoid typing on your keyboard, turn off all sounds on your phone, and close yourself into a room with no or minimal background noise.

Do speak clearly
An audio check should be done before the virtual meeting begins to ensure that everyone can hear you. Know your material – uncertainty will cause you to mumble. Speak naturally but slowly and annunciate each word.

Don't shout
Avoid screaming. If someone can’t hear you, then adjust the level on the microphone and make sure it’s not covered by your clothing or something else. Yelling will cause viewers to turn down their volume and potentially miss what you have to say.

Do keep body movements minimal
If you’re someone that talks with your hands, practice keeping them put. Hand movements can distract your audience. Also, keep head movements to a minimum as well as jerky movements forward or back.

Don't interrupt other speakers
Wait for an opening in the conversation before putting in your two cents. Cutting other speakers off is rude. Another option is posting pending questions by instant message so that every comment is addressed.

Do maintain eye contact by looking into the camera
Keep your focus on the camera. The worst thing is having your audience look at the top of your head because you’re typing or looking down at notes – or worse – at your Blackberry.

Don't carry on side conversations
Chances are if you wouldn’t do it in a face-to-face meeting, then you shouldn’t do it in a virtual one. That includes tuning out of the present conversation to talk to someone else sitting next to you, on the phone, in an IM chat, anywhere and anybody not in the current meeting.

Do dress appropriately
Striped shirts or shirts with intricate patterns do not transmit well on camera, because they are visually distracting. Red, white and black are also poor choices. Go for a pastel or other light colored shirt.

Don't wear noisy jewelry
Jewelry should be small and simple. Big jewelry can be distracting to those tuning-in and it can also bump against your microphone. Also, stay away from dangling ear rings and shiny eyeglass frames.

Do be yourself and have fun!
Relax and have a good time. Be lively, break the ice with a joke, and make viewers laugh. It’s uber easy to tune out in a face-to-face meeting, so imagine how easy it is in a virtual one. The more fun you interject, the more people will stay focused and interested in what you have to say.

Think this covers it? What else would you add to the list?

Jill HuseltonJill Huselton is a senior marketing manager at InterCall. She's been in the conferencing industry for nearly 15 years, working in operations, account management and marketing, mainly based in Colorado. Before leaving the Mile-High City, she hiked a 14er, one of her top accomplishments. Now she's traded the mountains for the beach and works from a home office in North Carolina.

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I just try to act as professional as I would if we were all in an actual (physical) meeting.

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