5 Bad Habits To Avoid When Video Conferencing

September 26, 2015

12:00 pm

As many enterprises continue to face the challenge of maintaining connectivity across decentralized and remote work teams, it’s no surprise that online meetings and collaboration solutions will continue to soar in the business realm. Moreover, now that so many companies have to meet online, they are expressing a stronger demand for video technologies that will further enhance the interactive environment of their virtual meetings. In fact, 75% of senior management agrees that video conferencing will replace “voice-only” conference calls. And, over half, 54% of users, stated that they now use video in over 25% of their web conferences, according to a recent Wainhouse WebMetrics survey.

However, even with the video craze now trending in the marketplace — there are still many professionals that use video conferencing in a not-so professional way. Some may not even be aware of their bad habits while engaging in a virtual meeting. Whether intentional or unintentional, there’s no need to fear video, as there are now so many ways to reduce the bad habits that can occur while attending a virtual meeting.

Below are some helpful insights and tips on key ways that you can mind your manners the next time you have to participate in a professional video conference call.

Avoid Background Noise

The most common bad habit that occurs on a video call is when a participant joins a meeting with a lot of background noise: dogs barking, noise from kids, police or ambulance sirens passing by, or even the ringing noise from a landline phone in the home (for those of you who still use landlines). Also, be aware of system-generated noise, an annoying situation that arises when an attendee puts the meeting on hold, not realizing that the system plays “hold music” that is broadcasted to all. Furthermore, alerts on your computer can generate sounds, like when you get a message or when a calendar appointment pops up.

With this in mind, it’s extremely important to choose a quiet, non-invasive environment before joining a video or web conferencing call, and to turn off alerts that may pop up on your computer or mobile device during a call. There are also numerous environmental noises that can interfere with a call if you are joining a meeting while on-the-go from your cell phone that you will need to mitigate.

To better manage background noise, some solutions have features that actually allow the meeting host to automatically mute or block out a line if they hear or see interference coming from a participant.

Get Rid Of Unsightly Habits

It’s very common for people to join a video call from the comforts of their own home. However, sometimes a home environment can cause people to relax a little too much and engage in unsightly habits like inappropriate scratching, biting on nails, or hawking and coughing. Remember these habits can be seen (and sometimes heard) across the video screen.

Make Sure Your Environment Is Clean

When joining a video call, remember as soon as your video cam clicks on, that everyone not only sees you, but they see what’s behind you. That’s right, they can see the dirty dishes, the laundry pile, or all of the paper work thrown across your desk. This is why it’s always important to check your background environment before joining a video call. If your background is a little messy, simply clean it up or choose another location. Also be sure to dress appropriately for the meeting. No bathrobes or pajamas please. Remember your business colleagues, and maybe even your boss, is watching you.

Don’t Bring Your Grievances To A Call

Everyone is familiar with the “angry employee” syndrome. And, yes it’s true, that some disgruntled employees actually use web meetings as an opportunity to intentionally disrupt a professional meeting, in front of other employees or even in front of customers. Many times these employees will make rude or snide comments, as a way to express their dissatisfaction. With this in mind, it is highly recommended that if you have a grievance with your company or your boss, to handle it by speaking with them personally off-line or by using proper business protocol instead of trying to turn your video conference meeting into a “reality show”.

Pay Attention

With audio-only conference calls, it’s typical to fall into the bad habit of multitasking or not paying attention since nobody sees you. However, on a video call, everyone sees you and it’s very easy for others to identify if you are disengaged or to see if you are managing multiple projects while on the meeting. Always remember that it’s important to pay attention while on video conference calls, and to also watch your facial expressions so that you don’t appear to be disinterested in the topic at hand. The best way to show that you are paying attention is to look at the camera – not at your cell phone or other programs on your computer screen, and to ask questions and participate.

By following these simple steps you will significantly improve your video conferencing demeanor while also enhancing your professional etiquette during all of your virtual meetings. In addition, your fellow participants will greatly appreciate your new found etiquette.


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Larry Dorie, CEO of RHUB Communications, the creators of TurboMeeting a workplace collaboration solution used by leading brands like Dell, Hitachi and AirTran. Larry is an experienced general manager with an outstanding track record in growing businesses and developing high-performance teams. He was the founder and CEO of two start-ups, eB2X and Semantic Sciences. At eB2X he raised a total of $6M of investment capital, and, he took sales from $5M to $18M in three years while at ILOG.

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