Considering current international health concerns and potential disruptions to workplaces, there will be an increased need for video conferencing. In addition to the existing benefits of working remotely, the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) may be your motivation to create a useful guide to video conferencing as part of your business strategy.
Video conferencing is a crucial part of working from home, and many of us may be isolated with the need to telecommute in the coming weeks and months. Large multinationals have strategic plans in case which allows them to continue working remotely in the event of quarantine that rely on internal and external communication channels remaining operational.
In this blog post, we will outline the communication techniques you will need to ensure video conferencing is effective for your business.
The Advantages of Video Conferencing
Video conferencing can be conducted over a wide variety of applications, including Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts. The advantage of video conferencing over traditional audio-only calls is a greater feeling of connection. Video has more effective communication than audio alone, ensuring you can build teamwork skills and better relationships in your meetings.
Some of the benefits of video conferencing are a better work life balance; cutting down on travel time and expense ensures employees have more time to spend on what they enjoy. You will likely experience increased attendance levels than face-to-face meetings as staff from across different sites and offices can attend. As a result of this, there will usually be a more structured start and end time which, in turn, increases productivity. All of these benefits result in increased employee retention and, therefore, improved business development.
Video Conferencing Etiquette
Entrepreneur magazine has suggested some dos and don’ts for communicating effectively during a video conference:
- Ensure your workspace is well-lit with natural light or a light to the side of you; avoid overhead lighting;
- Be respectful and dress as if you are going into the office when you are in a video conference;
- Avoid patterns and stripes on your clothing as solid colours present best on camera;
- Lock your office door to prevent children and pets from wandering in;
- Mute your microphone when you are not speaking to ensure there is no background noise for the other participants;
- Use courtesy and common sense when on a video call;
- Choose a neutral and uncluttered background – hide your dirty laundry and wash up your coffee cups!
The same communication skills you utilise in a face-to-face meeting apply in a Zoom or Skype meeting. If you consider the body language and eye contact you use in a meeting, you can replicate this on a video call. Make sure that you place the other participant’s videos near your webcam so when you are looking at their video on the screen, the other participants will feel that you are looking at them.
Just as you wouldn’t multitask in a face-to-face meeting, it is important to show that same respect during a video conference. Multitasking might be more obvious than you might think; the sound of clicking and your eyes darting across the screen can be very distracting for other participants. Whether you are in a Zoom meeting or in Google Hangouts, it is important that your camera is functioning. It is distracting for other participants to speak to a blank screen and does not allow you to build relationships with your clients and colleagues. The video element of the call is vital for connection and open communication.
In addition to your dress and etiquette, you need to consider your environment – whether that be your bedroom or your office. Present your space as professionally as possible. Before starting the call, take a selfie using your webcam so you can see what is captured by your camera, and make sure it is tidy. Perhaps you could set up a home office space with a blank wall behind you or a wall that is decorated only with work-appropriate décor.
Video Conferencing Equipment & Technology
For video conferencing to be effective, the software and equipment you use must be reliable. If you plan to video conference often, it might be worth the investment to purchase an external webcam. High definition quality will allow for your communication skills to really shine through! A headset or headphones with a microphone and mute button is also a must. Unless you are on the fastest internet in the world, all video conferences will experience some lag. We recommend a two second pause before speaking on a video call to avoid interrupting other people.
As we move through challenging times, businesses must conduct strategic planning which will allow for effective communication, even if your employees are not in the office. Video conferencing has massive advantages to your business, in addition to allowing you to continue normal functioning during potential isolation over the coming weeks and months.