The global lockdowns and self-imposed quarantines necessitated by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have turned social and professional lives upside down. As we enter a virtual realm, we're getting unprecedented views of friends and colleagues as well as their choices in kitchen décor, wall hangings, and interior decoration. 

Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom — no matter how you connect, these apps have quickly become a hub for virtual meetings across the world. 

The latest stats agree. 80% of executives say that they rely on video conferencing for internal team communications. That’s because the feedback and responses can be instant. You can even see if you are making an impact because everyone’s faces and expressions can be observed clearly. 

But the trouble is that remote conference calls can be awkward and embarrassing if you’ve never done them before. 

Many of us can barely survive in-person meetings without an awkward faux pas, and now we are collectively adjusting to video conferencing etiquette. Once "in" the session, attendees are often caught talking over each other, eating, or scrolling their phones. This just complicates things further as people are already dealing with speaker clarity issues, buffering videos, and delays. 

Here are a few ways to make virtual meetings more engaging and ensure your colleagues and clients have a good time when video conferencing with you.

Video conferencing best practices

We’ve all seen the memes and viral videos making the rounds online. There’s the unfortunate video of a lady who unknowingly left her camera and mic on while video conferencing from the bathroom and that boss who somehow managed to turn herself into a potato and had to attend the video call looking like a spud. 

Don’t be that person!

Here are some tried-and-tested video conferencing tips to help you avoid becoming the source of a viral meme that your colleagues will never let you forget.

Maintain eye contact 

The secret to video conferencing is that when you look into the camera, you're primarily looking at other participants in the eye. 

Now that may sound a little counterintuitive because you have to look at the screen to figure out what’s going on with the other participants. But steal glances at your camera during a call to make eye contact and ensure your colleagues feel like you are actively listening and paying attention.

One way to do this right is by placing the camera as close to the screen as possible if it’s an external webcam. Also, avoid looking down at your phone or doing other tasks when in a video call because it can seem unprofessional.  

Remove any distractions from the room — shut off your TV, close unnecessary tabs in your web browser, and lock away the pets. All you need to do for a successful video conference is to show that camera some love.

Avoid interrupting others

Conference calls can get very awkward where one participant jumps in and starts talking over another. 

Since video conferencing is very different from face-to-face meetings, and there are no body language cues that allow you to have your “eager to speak” moment, interruptions can occur often. 

So these video conferencing best practices require you to be a little more courteous and allow the other person to speak before voicing your thoughts. 

If you do interrupt a participant, make sure there’s a good reason to do that — maybe you want to push your colleagues to make a decision or circle back from a heated discussion.

Make sure your technology works perfectly

Test any hardware or video app that you're using beforehand to make sure that everything is in working order. We don’t want to have the mic or camera malfunction in the middle of an important meeting, do we? 

Nothing looks more unprofessional and amateur than running late while your video app is updating, or logging into a meeting and yelling, “Can you hear me now?” 

20% of users report that the biggest challenge they face with video conferencing is audio quality. It's vital that you get the right equipment and then ensure that it’s compatible with the software you’ll use to make video calls. 

Mute the mic when you're not speaking

If you think that by being quiet while someone else is speaking, you're not creating any sound, you're wrong. Most microphones can pick up the faintest of sounds like typing, coughing, chewing, or tapping your pen. 

This can be extremely distracting for other people on the call and can be the cause of annoyance. If your cat is meowing in the background, no one is getting any work done. So make sure that you only turn your mic on when it’s your time to speak. You don’t want your colleagues or clients to eavesdrop when your kids are fighting like banshees or your mom wants you to do the dishes asap. It can be very embarrassing for everyone — and your colleagues may never let you forget it. 

Be courteous to other participants

Just because you'ew miles away from other meeting participants doesn’t mean you can be mean or rude to them. Treat a video collaboration the same as you would an in-person interaction. 

It's very important to extend the same courtesy you would use if you were meeting with them in person. This means paying attention to each speaker by listening carefully, minimizing distractions, and avoiding the urge to multi-task.

Here’s a useful video conferencing tip: Smile and be confident. This is a simple yet powerful tactic to generate positive feelings during virtual meetings.

Dress appropriately

We realize that this is pajama season and you may even be going days without brushing your hair, but make an effort for the video conference, will ya?

You don’t have to be fancy. A clean shirt, washed face, and tidy hair is all that’s needed to make a good impression on a video call. This will help you get into work mode and avoid any awkward side glances. 

First impressions last for a very long time. Now that you are familiar with video conferencing etiquette, we are sure you’ll ace every virtual meeting you are a part of. You can also read up about common difficulties faced during virtual meetings and find easy solutions with us. Or if you want to learn more about tools and software that can make remote work easy for your team, get started with a free trial.