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As the normalcy of remote working rises, so does the occurrence of team conference calls.
And if you’ve seen the clip of the boss who accidentally turns herself into a potato during a virtual meeting with colleagues — you know that one small thing can make or break a video call (and perhaps, even turn you into an internet sensation).
From work-appropriate clothing to timeliness, we’ve put together a list of 9 video conference best practices to ensure that your next meeting runs smoothly and efficiently. These simple steps will pave the way for your soon-to-be-had video success.
You might not be clocking in as you would for a meeting at the office, but showing up on time is certainly one of our video best practices to implement. From a potentially slow internet connection to problems loading the video website, several things can happen to set off your start time. Just as you would arrive at a meeting a few minutes before it gets started, do the same with your virtual call. Showing up on time and being prepared will not only say that you care, but it will ease any anxieties on your end before the video meeting begins. Use the extra couple minutes to jot down some notes, shut off your email notifications, and take some relaxing deep breaths.
Learning how to mute yourself when you’re not speaking is one of the easiest and most effective video conference best practices. Even when you’re being as quiet as possible, a cough or the sound of typing notes can be super distracting to those who are on the call with you. Most of the time muting can be easily done with the click of a button and undone when you’re ready to speak. It’s good to remember, though, that you don’t want to get too comfortable with relying on the mute button. If you do, you run the risk of accidentally unmuting yourself and saying or doing something that you’d rather not be heard.
When you’re working from home, all things go as far as attire. One of the beauties of remote working is that you can stay in your pajamas a little bit longer, lounge around in sweatpants, and opt-out of doing your hair. However, it’s a good idea if you’re hopping on a call with your boss to dress as you would dress for work. If you normally wear a suit, you don’t have to show up to the kitchen table in your full work outfit, but at least don’t arrive to the video call in last year’s flannel pajamas. Putting in the extra effort when it comes to how you dress will show that you’re taking the meeting (and your work) seriously.
If you’ve ever been on a video call with someone who is in a dark part of their house or has the camera set up at an odd angle, you know how distracting this can be. Set your camera up so that it’s as if someone is sitting across from you when they see you on screen. Put the camera at eye level in a well-lit place and practice looking directly into it. Natural lighting works well but keep in mind that if you are backlit, it may be hard to see your face. These conference call best practices are easy to follow and the good news is that once you find that prime, well-lit spot in your house with a good angle, you can use it over and over again.
It’s pretty easy to let your mind wander to emails, to-do lists, and the dinner dish you’ll be crafting in a few hours. But the list of video best practices would not be complete without the following—stay engaged. It’s common in video calls to get off-track, which is why leaders will often keep their group engaged with unexpected questions to drive conversation and collaboration. If you’re not paying attention, you run the risk of getting called on and having absolutely no idea what’s going on. If you easily get off-track, keep a notebook next to you where you can jot notes while others talk and keep yourself focused. Put your phone in another room and be attentive and communicative. When video calls are with small groups, there’s always the chance for prolonged moments of silence. Reference your notepad and break the silence with an idea or question you may have.
Although there’s a charm to the dad who chooses his kids’ craft table as a conference call setting, it’s a good idea to think about your space before you jump into a video call. Many folks wonder what the best background for video conferencing is — and this depends on your profession. A group of writers might find inspiration from the messy library-looking background of bookcases, while others might find it distracting. With a video conference, especially if there are multiple people involved, it’s important to maintain focus and eliminate the chance for participants to get distracted. A good rule of thumb is to pick a private space with a simple background, like the white wall in your office or a secluded spot in a guest bedroom. If possible, make sure your space is clean and free of excess clutter. Not only do you want your space to look nice for your colleagues (don’t run the risk of becoming the coworker with the horrendously messy apartment), but you also want it to look nice for yourself. Similar to how you may feel better showing up to the office with a nice outfit on, a nice space will give you an extra confidence boost for the meeting ahead.
In an effort to minimize distractions, one of our conference call best practices is to inform your family members and roommates. No one wants their husband or wife to walk into the room on a potentially embarrassing rant—and if they do, let’s hope your microphone is on mute. But, the best plan is to let anyone you live with know about your call in advance especially if you’re working from home with kids. This eliminates the oppor tunity for background noise and interruptions and will help keep you focused and engaged. In addition to human companions, you also want to think about your pets. If you’re trying to figure out how to work from home with your dog, you already know that cons idering your pup before you engage in your meeting is a good plan, too. Whether your pets are running around outside or out for a neighborhood stroll with your spouse, in most cases, it’s a good idea to keep your furry friend out of the conference call. Although, if the dog does interrupt the meeting (like Brody and the meteorologist), you may be granted an opportunity for fast internet fame.
This isn’t always the case, but sometimes you’ll be asked to share your screen during a video call. If you have a bunch of online shopping tabs up and your desktop is a complete mess, you might not feel too inclined to hit that “share” button. Spend a few minutes before the meeting getting your screen tidy and ready just in case. If you completely forget to do this, don’t panic. Although it’s not the most organized advice for video conference best practices, you can always create a temporary folder, drop the contents of your desktop into it before your meeting, then remove them once the meeting is over. Just promise us—you’ll do some heavy spring cleaning of your desktop once the meeting culminates.
One of the most frustrating things that can happen before a big meeting is that your audio fails you. Do a quick microphone test beforehand to ensure that your audio is functioning properly. You want your voice to be clear and the volume to be perfect—not too loud, not too quiet. Making sure that this is the case will help you to communicate your feelings, ideas, and work proposals.
Whether you’re testing your microphone or making sure you dress appropriately, put these conference call best practices in motion the next time you sit down for a virtual meeting.
And the next time you venture off on a business trip, consider using Zeus as your home-away-from-home. From blazing fast WiFi to dedicated workspaces, our rentals are ideal for trips of a month or longer.
Whether you’re searching for a cozy studio or an expansive neighborhood home, our smartly furnished home rentals offer a little something for everyone.