Video conferencing may be a staple of modern communications, but the technology is still young enough to leave room for improvement. Depending on how you prepare, a video conference can be the easiest thing on Earth or one of the most unpleasant experiences you can imagine.
The following 10 tips should help ensure that whenever you conference, you conference in an enjoyable, productive way:
1. Review the Features.
According to Inc, one of the most important preparations you can make is ensuring that you keep it simple: Use the appropriate tech for the job. However, it’s also important to know the capabilities of the technology you are using. For example, if you use Blue Jeans, for example, log in to bluejeans.com and take a gander at the feature list, to know what the functions are and devote a few minutes to refreshing your knowledge of them.
2. Choose Your Surroundings Carefully.
An important element of video conferencing is the background that appears in your video. The best backgrounds are neutral and do not steal focus away from you and what you say. Fancy posters might look great in private conversations, but they appear downright unprofessional and very distracting to your viewers. Consider what you’d expect from a professional participant and do the same.
3. Dress for the Occasion.
Another important factor is clothing. As recounted by productivity501.com, it’s best to clothe yourself entirely – otherwise, you might end up inadvertently displaying boxers below that suit and tie, as one CEO did. However, when in doubt, dress with a focus on comfort, rather than elegance. Video conferences can be quite long and the more comfortable you are in your clothes, the higher the chance of it being fairly pleasant.
4. Focus on Furniture.
Furniture is important both when you are just a single participant and when you’re organizing a group video conference. The chair and the table should be set up in an ergonomic way, to allow for natural, comfortable seating. In group settings, oval tables, rather than the classic, long conference tables should be focused on, as pointed out by biztechmagazine.com.
5. Invest in a Good Camera.
In all cases, good hardware is a must. Built-in laptop cameras are a poor choice for video conferencing, as the quality of captured video and audio is often lacking. Even the cheapest webcam will drastically outperform these offerings, enabling a hassle-free conference. Ideally, you’ll want to look into enterprise solutions, which are specifically built for video conferencing and offer superior performance in all aspects.
6. Good Lighting Is Important.
Regardless of the model of camera you use, good lighting is absolutely important. Poorly lighted spaces are a good way to hinder the quality of the call and affect your contact with others. Investing in just a few stronger lights or simply rearranging your workspace is a cheap, easy way to improve the quality of the video conference without having to expend additional money or effort. Rearranging heavy furniture is also a good method for getting exercise done in the workplace!
7. The Right Posture.
Next are the finer details, such as maintaining the correct posture. Obviously, slouching is out completely, but the way you seat can have an impact on the quality of the video conference. Try to maintain an upright, but comfortable posture, which will give good support for your back. Sitting in the wrong position for an extended period of time puts too much stress on the lower spine, which may lead to pain and back problems. Neither makes the conference any more enjoyable.
8. Make Eye Contact.
Humans are social animals and posture is just one part of the complex web of interactions. Eye contact is another element. Generally, try to remain focused on the partner and position your camera so that you are making eye contact, or as close to one as possible. This will not only make you appear focused and respectful, but it will also impart a more professional, direct tone on the conversation.
9. Manage Bandwidth.
Connectivity issues plague video conferencing, but most can be traced back to one thing: Bandwidth. As stated by lifehacker.com and countless other websites, for optimal call quality, dial back bandwidth-intensive activities. Avoid downloads like the plague, limit your visits to resource-intensive websites, and, for the duration of the conference, try to cut back on multiplayer games. Shockingly, heavy server traffic clogs the connection.
10. Don’t Worry (Too Much).
Finally, the single best way to improve your video conferencing is to simply worry less. Don’t fret over connectivity issues, how you look, how you’re going to come off during conversation, or how you are prepared. Having some concern is good, but don’t let it dominate you. After all, video conferencing is there to allow for more direct, natural conversation. As odd as it sounds, try to have fun for a change.