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With coronavirus outbreak continuing indefinitely, many organizations have transformed from the traditional use of office spaces to telecommuting operations. In order to stay connected, most employers have begun relying on videoconferencing platforms that allow their workforces to meet and have virtual personal interaction with colleagues. Whether it is a staff meeting, or a just a quick “huddle” to start the day, this article will explore the best practices for utilizing videoconferencing and some behaviors to avoid.
DO: Test Your Technology
The quickest way for a videoconference to go awry is through technical difficulties. If you cannot see or hear your colleagues, the entire purpose of the call is defeated. Before a videoconference, test your device, the video-chat platform, and internet set-up. Make sure that your webcam and microphone are working properly. If you use a headset, make sure it is connected and functioning. If you have a friend who is available, you can test your settings out with them.
With so many people working from home and using the internet, bandwidth is being negatively affected, slowing down internet service for many people. You can visit speedtest.net to gauge your internet speeds. If your speeds are below 20 megabits per second, you will likely experience pixelated video and audio delays.
DON’T: Hold up the Meeting
If you cannot get the technology to cooperate, move on. Do not hold up a meeting for several minutes attempting to get the videoconferencing platform to work. Hang up and have a telephone conversation instead.
DO: Make Sure Your Video-Chat is Secure
Zoom, a popular videoconferencing platform, has been in the news after people have hacked into unsecured video-chats on the platform. However, earlier this month, Zoom added security measures which requires users to insert a password to enter meetings.
Different platforms have a variety of security features. Familiarize yourself with your videoconferencing app and explore its features to ensure that you are protecting the privacy of your meetings.
DON’T: Try to Multitask
While we work from home, we are surrounded by potential distractions. However, we need to give our best attention to the meeting rather than trying to multitask. Colleagues can see you and will be able to tell if you are not focused on the conversation. Avoid moving around, responding to emails, and anything else that can shift your attention elsewhere. Keep your eyes and focus on the camera and be mindful of your body language.
DO: Set an Agenda
Managers need to make virtual meetings as concise and engaging as possible. It is crucial to send out an agenda before the meeting so participants know what is going to be discussed and can thoughtfully contribute.
If a meeting drags on or meanders, it is easy for colleagues to lose interest and drift off in the privacy of their own home.
DON’T: Be Late
As with any meeting, video or otherwise, punctuality is important. Joining a call late is jarring and distracting. Colleagues will have to back track and get you up to speed, delaying the progress of the meeting.
DO: Use the Mute Button
If you have a lot of background noise, such as dogs barking or children playing, it is best to use the mute button when you are not speaking. This will reduce disruptions during the meeting and perhaps prevent colleagues from becoming annoyed with you.
DON’T: Speak Over Others
As with in-person meetings, wait for a pause in the conversation before speaking. This is a much more difficult prospect on video-chats because of audio delays that make it difficult to discern whether someone will begin talking. Be mindful of this issue and allow colleagues to finish their points without interruption.
DO: Have Good Body Language
Ensure that your actions are communicating that you are engaged and interested in the meeting. Good posture and positive body language encourage others to communicate openly and share ideas. Certain non-verbal messages also convey engagement, such as nodding your head, leaning into the conversation, and gesturing with a hand that you would like to contribute to the conversation.
DO: Check in with Your Colleagues
This is a difficult time that is having a profound effect on the world. Many people are struggling with the situation. Take the time to check in with your colleagues and subordinates to see how they are coping personally. Let them know that you understand this a tough situation that everyone is adjusting to and that you are there to listen to their concerns. This will help mental health and provide a morale boost in a what can be a discouraging environment.
As the necessity of telecommuting continues, the importance of proper etiquette for videoconferencing grows. Many believe that the remote working trend may continue beyond this pandemic. Now is an optimal time to evaluate how you utilize videoconferencing, both organizationally and personally, to ensure your practices are efficient and effective.