Although videoconferencing has been around for quite a while, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that this tech went mainstream. In-person meetings were frowned upon, and with many people working from home, conferencing via video chatting exploded in popularity seemingly overnight. Zoom, one of the most popular videoconferencing providers globally, has seen its stock increase by more than 360 percent YTD. Virtual meetings aren’t going away anytime soon.
How to Have a Successful Video Call
Things tend to be relatively straightforward when you’re working on your company's premises and are asked to join a meeting. You’re already appropriately dressed, comfortable with how you look and typically don’t have to worry much about what the meeting space looks like. With video conferencing, all of those factors (and more) come into play. We’ve put together a few tips below to help ensure that you have the best videoconference possible!
1. Test your equipment. Nothing is more frustrating than starting a meeting and realizing your camera, mic or speakers don't work. Trying to troubleshoot tech issues while everyone else in the meeting is staring at you isn’t a fun experience. Always test your camera, speakers and microphone before every meeting. If you’re going to be sharing your screen, check to ensure that your desktop is presentable and any programs you’ll be using run smoothly while on the conference call.
2. Check your environment. Your background says something about you, and you want to be intentional about the story it tells. Open your webcam and carefully look around at what’s visible. If you need to clean up, adjust your camera angle or change where you’re sitting, make those modifications before the meeting starts. Most videoconferencing platforms allow you to greenscreen yourself onto a false background; if you’re going to do this, test it beforehand. Watching part of yourself disappear because you wore the wrong color top could be a problem!
3. Eliminate distractions. Don’t forget the broader surrounding environment. If you have other people at home (such as a spouse or children), set expectations about where you'll be, how long you'll be unavailable and how to best communicate if you're needed while in the meeting. Consider outside traffic, the neighbor’s barking dog and nearby construction projects. Spend a moment thinking through any potential distractions and how you can preclude them.
4. Dress accordingly. Although working from home lends itself to a more relaxed environment, be sure to dress professionally for videoconferences — even if it’s only from the waist up. You don’t want to have staticky hair and a grungy t-shirt on the morning that the vice president decides to join your weekly staff meeting. Sweatpants are fine, but throw a polo shirt on top. This is important even if you plan on turning your camera off during the call — you never know what will happen.
5. Familiarize yourself with your controls. Never assume that a particular button will mute you or turn off your camera. Test the software settings thoroughly until you’re intimately familiar with them; a few minutes invested before the meeting could save you a world of embarrassment during it!
6. Take care of nature’s needs. Don’t forget to use the restroom and grab something to drink before your meeting starts. Waiting to address either of these until the urge hits can put you in an awkward spot, and it’s best just to avoid these issues from the start.
7. Run through your presentation beforehand. Screensharing is common on video chats, and it’s best to know what your audience will be looking at. Have a friend or coworker dial into a one-on-one meeting with you and run through all of the screens meeting attendees will see. You're not only ensuring that any glitches are taken care of, but you're also having your partner check to see if she can see anything that's potentially embarrassing on your desktop or browser so you can remove it beforehand.
8. Maximize your resources. Close out any computer programs that you’re not using before starting the meeting. Lag is one of the greatest enemies of videoconferencing, and saving your computer resources from being overextended can go a long way toward ensuring the quality of a call.
Expecting the Unexpected
You never know what will happen during a meeting. Unexpected visitors could pop up at any time. You might need to step in as host, share your screen or even turn on your webcam when you’d assumed it would stay off for the entire meeting. Doing everything you can to set yourself up for success beforehand will eliminate many areas of concern, allowing you to focus on interacting with your peers and accomplishing what you need to.