Video Conference Etiquette 101

In today’s digital marketplace, video conferencing is huge. According to Lifesize, approximately 87% more people choose to use video conferencing today than the past 2 years. This is combined with recent news of the coronavirus outbreak, which is predicted to see a huge uptake in remote working over the next few months. With these points in mind, Damson Cloud have put together six ‘dos and don’ts’ of video conferencing etiquette. Thank us later! 

Saying we do video conferencing a lot would be an understatement. However, just because video conferencing offers meetings at a distance, doesn’t mean that there isn’t any etiquette to observe. In the above tutorial with Fintan, we record a screen share to get a few different perspectives from the video conference’s point of view. 

Camera Position

Let’s look at our first example of video conferencing etiquette, and it’s probably the biggest one: camera positioning. We often see that participants are either too close or too far away, and sometimes it’s a simple matter of testing out camera perspective before you join the conference. Choices of perspective often depend on whether or not we will be using the laptop or not. In these cases, some tend to place the camera too close, with others not getting their full face in the call. We advise pushing your laptop back a bit if you aren’t going to be using it, pushing the screen down so that other participants can get a full view. 

Depending on your surroundings, you can consider placing your laptop on an impromptu shelf (a box or set of books, for example). This is a handy way to raise your camera positioning, allowing participants a full view of your face and hands. How much you push your laptop back, however, should depend on how many people you want to squeeze into your screen. You can of course opt for a wide angle camera, but for most laptops we’d recommend trying out different distances before starting your call.

Background

The second aspect of setting up your video conference should be your choice of background, and you’ll want to consider your surroundings before launching the call. Ask yourself a few questions: am I working in a privacy-conscious environment? Is there sensitive information regarding my business or my client which may be visible to other participants on the call? Is there a screen which may contain confidential or data-restricted information? These are all important aspects of video conferencing etiquette to bear in mind, and in the current age of GDPR, it’s ever-important to give these things a little consideration when you’re planning your call. 

Noise

Thirdly, you should take care to exclude noise and audio interference in your video conference. After all, few things are more frustrating than taking a call with background disturbances. Think about traffic and other noises outside of your office or workplace, and think about closing those doors and windows. Also consider how loud your working space is: if you can book a meeting room or booth, we recommend this. 

A great tip for excluding noisy disturbances is by using a set of basic earphones with an in-built microphone. You can see that Fintan likes using basic Apple earphones, preventing the sound of his voice reverberating again through the speakers of the laptop. This will avoid background noise disturbing your call, and this simple piece of kit is super convenient for working on the move.

Selective Muting

It’s also important to remember the self-mute feature on Google Hangouts. Feel free to use this feature to hide the sound of your voice. It’s also handy to switch this on and off – especially if you’re in a situation where background noise is unavoidable. This is another feature which is made easier with a simple set of earphones, many of which offering their own selective mute switch.

Distractions

Noise isn’t the only common disruption to a video call. Think about what may be occurring in your surrounding environment over the course of your conference. Think about the barking dog or the kids coming home from school, and think about that washing machine or tumble dryer. If you do have an interruption that you know is going to happen, let people know in advance. This is a basic aspect of conferencing etiquette, and we find that most people are fine with that if you do let them know.

Lighting

Finally, we’d like to share our tips on lighting. Something we see a lot is natural lighting causing disruptions, and in many cases those callers will have their back to the window. When we have a lot of light concentrated on the face of the screen, our computers will automatically dim that setting.

The other side of the coin is that you can also have the problem of being in too dark an environment, so try to find a balance. This isn’t always something that people can control or choose, but we do recommend going for a dimly lit room with light shining on your face, as opposed to shining on your screen. Think about your positioning and always consider how light may be distracting from the conversation. Once you’ve got this set up right, you really need to do it once. 

More About Damson Cloud 

That brings this week’s video tutorial to a close, and we hope that some of our advice will help guide you in your next video conference. Do you think that there are any tips that we may have missed out? What do you do when you’re going on a video call? How do you ensure that your video conference is disturbance-free? Let us know in the comments!

As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner program, Damson Cloud specialise in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion change management and digital transformation using some of the internet’s most trusted solutions, including Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), Happeo and Jamboard. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.

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