Video conferencing has been apart of our lives for over 20 years now and if you have not engaged in a formal business video conference yet there is a good chance you may soon.
This is the good, the bad and the ugly survival guide to what to do and not to do in your next video conference.
Don’t be scared, we have condensed 25 posts into 1 simple snap shot of things you should know. In less than 3 minutes, you will be in the know! Here are the main topics we will cover.
1. Things to do before a video conference
2. Etiquette in a video conference
3. Top tips for dealing with technical problems
4. Top reasons video conferences fail
Things to do before a video conference
Sometimes it is helpful to have a checklist of things to go over before the actual video conference starts.
Here is our curated list of gotta knows. Enjoy.
This is a subject unto it’s own. Here is a great article I stumbled upon from a company called 99U which I think is a must read. In short it explains how some of the most forward thinking companies in the world today conduct their meetings and how many follow very similar meeting practices. On the whole.
The key take ways for us were, keep things short, concise, objective driven, define objective ownership as well as action item ownership on meeting close, which brings us to a video specific point:
If running multiple meeting rooms in different cities, assign one person at each location to own these next points.
Contact those in charge at each location to answer questions and verify individual tech needs and alternate procedures including troubleshooting.
Do test runs of all connections before the meeting starts with the same providers, etc. that will be used during the meeting.
Every location that is using technology to connect needs to have access to technical support.
If it is, understand these critical points. The first is that there are still technical compatibility issues between video system when sharing content. The second is content sharing technically can use allot of processing power, that is why even today in 2016, software is either great at video, or great at content sharing, but very rarely both because a priority is being put on the quality of one over the other depending your bandwidth.
So, with that mind, the most efficient method is to conduct your video conference separate to your content sharing. There are a gazillion free and paid content sharing products available today, pick one and have all attendees engage this on their devices seperate to the video.
If the presentation is super critical, simply set up one device to push the presentation through a data projector or second screen for all to watch.
Distribute any materials you need for each site involved in the video conference. If you have to, e-mail the presentation or any other materials you want each site to have access to.
Make sure each site location has clearly visible signage, name tags, clocks, and other aids to help you identify people and keep tabs on the time.
With this list in mind, you’re well on your way to having a smooth video conference!
Etiquette in a video conference
Video conferencing, telepresence, remote collaboration, etc. all rely on how well you look on the screen. This visual factor can greatly enhance your presentation because body language and facial expression are cues used to elaborate on the words being spoken.
Visual factors have a detrimental effect if not thought of in advance, because you may not be aware of how you look on screen.
There often is a slight time lag or screen factor that patterned clothing will highlight by the shimmer effect, and it is distracting to the viewer.
Have the camera far enough from you that your upper body can be seen (hand gestures) and there’s a bit of space around your head. This prevents the whole-screen face that exaggerates every eyelid twitch. When all that is seen is the face, it’s like the movie close-ups that increase dramatic effect, and you usually don’t want that.
How you use your hands gives a definite vibe to your speech. White knuckled grips on the pencil or table look nervous.
Posture can give an impression you may not want to give. Sit up straight and lean in a bit so you look confident and friendly. Slouch and you look sloppy and hesitant.
Keep a preview window open to remind you to smile and relax, but notice how your eyes shift when you glance at it. It’s also a reminder to look at the camera instead of the screen when you are talking to your viewers! You can look at them while they speak because we are accustomed to that now, but remember to look at the camera when you speak or you will be misconstrued. Best practice is to remove the preview window as it IS a disctraction, but if this is your first time, we recommend you keep it open for the reasons mentioned above. If your feeling confident, hide it.
It’s a good idea to schedule your video conferences with a little extra time before the meeting so you can set up equipment, go through a practice session, and familiarize yourself with anything new that you are trying – like presentations. A general rule of thumb is to arrive 15 – 30 minutes prior to the actual meeting time to prepare.
When you arrive and start setting up, here are 7 things you should do before your meeting begins.
In many rooms, you can move the video equipment around. Take this time to figure out the best placement for your video camera and learn how to operate it successfully.
This one you can actually do in your office before you arrive at the meeting room.
Work on your presentation so that it is tight, concise, and says what you want it to say.
Your first video conference can be very exciting and simultaneously daunting experience. It’s not dissimilar to getting your first car – you’ve heard a ton about it, you’ve done your research, and you know the benefits, but once it’s there in front of you, a whole bunch of questions start popping up and you will need to step back and figure out how best to use it. Biztech Magazine recently published an excellent article on how to maximize results with video conferencing. It covers the gamut from the systems and services you choose to how you use it and what you do elsewhere in your business to strengthen its capabilities.
Video conferencing is an effective and comprehensive tool for communication that opens up the opportunity for you and your colleagues, friends, and/or family to talk with one another from remote locations in a way that most closely resembles a face-to-face interaction.
With that being said, it is important to keep in mind that this method of communication comes with its own rules of etiquette, just as do telephone conversations, Internet correspondence, and so on. Keep this in mind when taking part in a video conference, especially if you’re doing it for work! Primarily to maintain professionalism and quality of communication.
This means being aware of your physical environment first and foremost. If you are trying to conduct your video conference from home, try to be in a place where children, other people, pets, and so on are not mingling around. Turn off televisions and, if you can, make sure the wall behind you isn’t overly distracting (for example, a bunch of posters or a window that might cause glare issues). Minimize the audiovisual distractions to ensure that your conferencing partner(s) can see and hear you as best as possible.
When you aren’t talking, your microphone should be muted. This is to cut out any instances of errant breathing, slight movements, or other noises that could cause distraction or interruption. It’s a simple habit, and many systems have an option for “Mute when not talking.”
Try and wait a moment after someone is finished talking before responding. Sometimes, there’s lag, and sometimes, the person might not be finished.
Remember that you don’t always need to be using video. Audio and web sharing products can accomplish a number of collaborations by themselves. Video certainly has its place and that place is when audio and web are just not enough and a flight is over kill.
One point in a recent article by Globe and Mail which can often be overlooked is the need for what they call “cross-cultural courtesy.” People speaking in a language other than their native tongue may require a little more time to articulate their thoughts, and other conference participants should be courteous and make sure that other parties are finished speaking before chiming in. This goes for all speakers in general, too, of course. Again mute function knowledge is a must unless you are talking.
Remember, your screen will appear as 800 x 600. Make sure you use this display setting on your screen before connecting to others. In light of this, you need to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Big, clear fonts and simple colors will help your viewers digest the information. Avoid big blocks of loud colors – you want to keep it subtle and visibly pleasing.
Know what to ask for. You will need a PC connection or Scan Converter. You will need to ask for these at the time of the booking and there may be an additional cost. You should also ask for extra access time prior to the meeting to familiarize yourself with the materials and to set them up.
Top tips for dealing with technical problems
Here are a couple of things to check just in case things may go wrong.
The video above cracks us up each and every time we watch it. Let’s assume you are not this dedicated to Golf and looking for every day mistakes people make.
Keep content away from the edges. Sometimes the image will be a little cropped. This shouldn’t be too hard to do. Next, press F8 on your computer while presenting to open up a “second” screen so you can do your own things.
Make sure you have a VGA connection and not an RGB one.
Finally, make sure you have your AC power adapter and/or fully charged batteries for any machines being used.
Tips to enhance your video conferencing meeting experience.
This sounds just like a computer help center recording but reseting all devices in the conference can help. That means turning them all off at the power for a few seconds and then powering them back on and re-connecting.
If the conference is bing bridged by a third party (all the locations are connected by a conferencing company), they may try disconnecting and re-connecting.
Ask the on-site tech support to unplug and re-plug all the connecting cables, sometimes one of the cables was just not connected properly when the system was last used or moved.
Have you ever been afraid that your video conference could be hacked? It actually is very unlikely with the standard security precautions used in video conferencing facilities, but if you aren’t using those precautions, it is possible that one of your friends might play a joke on you like what happened in this article on Five Tips For Dealing With VC Camera “Hacks”. In this case, the guy had not set up a password with his equipment. But the scenario shows how he turned what could have been a viral practical joke into a lesson on professionalism.
While you probably will not be dealing with hackers during your video conference, there sometimes will be problems that could derail your meeting if you allow it. Stay in control by remembering to do these tips:
Recognize the limitation the issue is causing and adapt accordingly. Your goal is to keep the meeting moving in a positive direction. If, for example, part of the screen suddenly shows the computer updating its files instead of your presentation, tell them what is being hidden, apologize for the inconvenience, and move on.
You are on camera, being seen and heard. You might suddenly be improvising your script but you are also revealing your competency to cope with unexpected occurrences. This might actually improve the meeting in the end.
Contact tech support. If you are using one of the public video or telepresence facilities in the whyGo network, your venue host will be on hand to assist and you will have been shown how to contact their representative on arrival. Hopefully, someone other than the speaker will be able to talk to them, and it usually can be fixed immediately.
Top reasons video conferences fail
We all kind of love watching fiascoes. Those humiliating catastrophic videos of things gone wrong, when they happen to someone else.
Avoid These Top Mistakes In Video Job Interviews
Job interviews are vitally important meetings and great care should be taken to keep your professional image impressive. One of the best ways to do this during a video interview is to be aware of the mistakes that can put you out of the running. Many times an unfavorable impression is created when the parties involved ignore the realities of cameras and microphones. Here is a short list of the top mistakes often made:
- The natural inclination is to look at the interviewer’s face on the screen. But this makes you look like you are gazing somewhere else…in order to “look in their eyes” you must look at the camera. Some people will put a picture of a friend behind the web cam and look at that. This takes practice, and both parties need to do it, particularly if one is using a device.
- Lighting can make you look terrible. The background and the type of lights in the room have a direct effect on the shadowing of your face and the color of your skin. A warm, neutral background and several sources of warm light (not fluorescent or cool LED) will make a big difference.
- Wear a suit. It is always going to look professional, no matter who you are talking to. This becomes particularly important in cross-cultural settings.
- Posture indicates attitude. Sit up straight, angle your body slightly sideways and turn your head to face the camera. Practice comfortably sitting while looking attentive.
- Eliminate distractions. Silence the cell phone, make sure the connections will all work, do some test runs with the technology so you are confident about your ability to be heard with your equipment’s mic. Keep others out of the room if you are interviewing from home.
If your equipment is not up to standard, look into renting a public video conferencing venue. Some of the rooms on the WhyGo Video Conference facility booking system are small and perfect for this purpose. You will be able to present a professional image. With all the tech support of the WhyGo team and the venue facilitator, it’s a good investment in your future career.
Making Video Conferencing Easier
It is easy to tell that video conferencing has been growing at an alarming rate. The fields of business communication, remote education, telemedicine, Justice systems, and many others are embracing the technology as an alternative approach to connecting with remote parties for any number of purposes. But as the popularity and the demand for the technology increases, so too do the expectations associated with it. Customers are now clamoring for the highest power, lowest cost, and easiest to use features in their video conferencing purchases. Even industry leaders are struggling to come up with the best ways to provide customers with exactly what they want, but companies like Polycom, Cisco, and Huawei are doing their best to continue creating competitive products and services. A recent story published on Telepresence Options, for example, takes a look at how Huawei is working towards making video conferencing as simple as calling someone on the phone. Reporter Jessie Prashar explains:
“The new tablet used in Huawei’s room telepresence system has an Android-based, smart videoconferencing application installed, which is simple, intuitive and user-friendly. With the tablet, users enjoy one-touch power-on/off and are given control over the entire conference process. They can easily initiate conferences, control cameras, manage chair control rights, switch between multiple presentation modes, configure settings, and customize the conference control screen. Users will experience little learning curve when using the videoconferencing system for the first time, and can focus more on collaboration than on the technologies themselves.”
Targeting The Problems
A move such as Huawei’s is an excellent decision because one of the biggest obstacles video conferencing has traditionally faced has been the hesitance of the potential users. Many people – especially those not in the younger generations – are very hesitant to adopt new technology and consider it to be too complex or prone to problems. By developing a tool that is easier to use and marketing it as such, Huawei stands to garner the attention of at least a fraction of these previously hesitant parties.
The software isn’t the only place where users feel confused, however. The more hardware involved with a video conferencing setup, the less likely people are going to want to invest in it. That’s why products such as tablets may be the right direction for Huawei and other companies – all components from the camera and microphone to the display are fully integrated into the model and many people may already have the necessary platforms.
What Remains To Be Done
Of course, video conferencing will never be quite as simple as dialing a phone number. However, one path that developers can take to reassure their customers is the creation of comprehensive tutorials that walk them through the process. Setting up a practice call is a great way to accustom an user to the software and hardware – software developers in particular should consider integrating a tool such as this into their products.
We are excited to see how Huawei’s new simplified approach reaches the customer base around Asia and the entire world. How else do you think developers can simplify video conferencing to reach more people? Share your thoughts here or on WhyGo’s Facebook Page!
Helpful Hints For Successful Videoconferencing
Sometimes it is helpful to have a checklist of things to go over before the actual video conference starts. If you are using the WhyGo Outlook Plug-inÂ and network for your meeting, some of these will be automatically covered.
Video Conference Planning Checklist
- Contact all attendees and coordinate an appropriate date
- Verify attendance and the mode they will be using to attend the video conference
- Email everyone the agenda and contact information, including who is in charge at each location
- Email reminders of basic video conference etiquette and procedure
- Contact those in charge at each location to answer questions and verify individual tech needs and alternate procedures including troubleshooting
- Do test runs of all connections before the meeting starts with the same providers, etc. that will be used during the meeting
- Make any changes that are needed as a result of your test runs
- After the meeting ask for feedback and suggestions to improve the next videoconference
The Foundational Importance of Technical Support
Every location that is using technology to connect needs to have access to technical support. If you are not utilizing rooms on the WhyGo Network, then the support should be verified before you get into attempting to troubleshoot while trying to take part in an important conference.
If you are using WhyGo’s network to connect, then there’s already a support team available any time in any time zone every day. We have three–in Sydney, Australia, in London, UK, and in Dallas, US. That means that you can call and we can answer or get back to you quickly, any time you need help.
Tips For A Productive Virtual Meeting
Many of the tips for a productive business meeting apply to the productivity of a virtual meeting. The constraints of an allotted time for a video conference make an agenda one of the most helpful tools for keeping that time productive.
- Agendas should be distributed before the meeting convenes and include the last meeting’s minutes, status updates, and current contact information for all attendees. This will easily get everyone on the same page before the meeting starts. With technology, it is easy to email or fax this well in advance of the start time, but everybody should have the material to refer to during the video conference.
- Opening remarks should include introductions, verify connections, and adjusting things like volume or camera angle if needed. It needs to be quick; you have a meeting to run.
- Agendas need to clearly define the goals of the meeting and allow time for discussion and questions after each point. This back-and-forth exchange of ideas is essential for collaboration. The value of video is seeing each person as they speak, adding to the communication factor.
- Questions on the agenda can help participants be ready for that discussion, if you actually stick to the agenda and ask. If the presenter never asks, people stop expecting to contribute. Boredom ensues.
- Agendas can be used as a checklist to make sure every item was covered. If one has to be postponed, it should be on the next meeting’s agenda.
- Prioritize your topics and arrange them logically. For instance, if a decision depends on the outcome of another topic, you can’t decide anything until the other topic is resolved. Urgent items should come first.
- Be realistic about time factors. In a video conference, there generally is a limit on how long you are meeting so topic discussions need to be limited as well. You can only fit so many 5 or 10 minute topics into an hour’s meeting, particularly with the opening and closing remarks.
You can find more helpful tips on conducting a video conference at WhyGo’s Training Material and Information Guides page.
7 Things To Do Before A Meeting
It’s a good idea to schedule your video conferences with a little extra time before the meeting so you can set up equipment, go through a practice session, and familiarize yourself with anything new that you are trying – like presentations. A general rule of thumb is to schedule your meeting for one hour in advance of your actual meeting time.
When you arrive and start setting up, here are 7 things you should do before your meeting begins.
- Get familiar with video equipment. In many rooms, you can move the video equipment around. Take this time to figure out the best placement for your video camera and learn how to operate it successfully.
- Prioritize your topics and set the objectives of your meeting. This one you can actually do in your office before you arrive at the meeting room.
- Get your graphics and other visuals in order. Work on your presentation so that it is tight, concise, and says what you want it to say.
- Confirm attendees and availability.
- Choose your chairperson for the master site. For each additional site, select the leader for that room. It should be someone responsible who can work out kinks on the spot.
- Distribute any materials you need for each site involved in the videoconference. If you have to, e-mail the presentation or any other materials you want each site to have access to.
- Make sure each site location has clearly visible signage, name tags, clocks, and other aids to help you identify people and keep tabs on the time. You don’t want your conference to expire before you have finished the meeting.
To run a successful videoconference, you should be organized and on time.
Things to avoid when in a video conference
Video conferences are often just as important and professional as in-person meetings. Many businesses and institutions use the technology as a placeholder for actual conference meetings, and all participants should be as mindful and well-behaved as they would be in an actual round-table meeting. LuxeLounge recently published an article discussing some tips and “don’ts” regarding video conferencing. Let’s take a look at a couple of other pointers that can be added to the list to help out potential conference participants.
As the article mentions, punctuality and preparedness are key. Being on-time – or even early, so as to test out everything and make sure it works – is critical. Tardiness is a huge disruption to a video conference, even more so than it is in an in-person meeting. Make sure everything you have to present is prepared, too. Any PowerPoints or other media presentations should be double-checked on the hardware you’re using beforehand.
Also, make sure everyone knows how to use the Mute button effectively. Errant noise from breathing, chair moving, or any other background sounds can be distracting and can pollute the sound from the person who is actually speaking. The Mute button should be used at all points when the participant is not the active speaker.
A final tip is to present yourself as you would in a meeting. This sounds simple, but in front of a computer screen, it’s surprisingly easy to forget and slump in your chair, mess with your hair, or do anything else similar. Dress well, maintain posture, and don’t do anything distracting.
With these tips in mind, you’re sure to have a smooth video conference.
Tips for engaging in a video conference
Preparation for professional meetings and collaborations is always a bit stressful. We want to be absolutely sure that we put our best foot forward and conduct ourselves in the most poised fashion possible. Getting yourself ready for interviews, board meetings or reviews, evaluations, and much more is an important part of maintaining your Â professional identity. It should be no different with whyGo corporate account, either. Many businesses take advantage of remote communications technology to improve productivity and cut down on expenses – that means that you may find yourself in a situation where you need to prepare for a video conference. If that is the case, then there is no need to worry – just follow these simple tips and you should be able to present yourself in the best way possible.
- Dress professionally. This should go without saying, but remember that just because you might be at home, it doesn’t mean that other people can’t see you. Dress as you would for the in-person counterpart to whatever Â type of video meeting is going on.
- Consider your surroundings. It is best to have a blank or near-blank background behind you, and it is absolutely vital that you cut out all distractions. There should be no pets or children running around, no televisions or radios on, and no potential for interrupting phone rings. Shut yourself in an office room if you have to – just make sure you are not distracting the other conference participants.
- Mind the Mute button. It should be on at all times except those when you are talking. Errant noises like breathing and slight movements can be a distraction to others and can effectively keep people from hearing what others have to say.
- Wait a few seconds after someone is finished talking to chime in. That way, you can be sure that you are not interrupting.
Tips on presentations in video conferencing
One of the most common ways of using whyGo corporate account technology to share information with other callers is through a presentation of some sort. Whether you’ve prepared a custom desktop-to-screen run through or you’re going to use a Power Point, there are a number of tips and information you’ll want to keep in mind in order to get the most out of the meeting without any hassle or mistakes. Let’s take a look at a couple of things you can keep in mind to keep your presentation solid and effective.Â
- Remember, your screen will appear as 800 x 600. Make sure you use this display setting on your screen before connecting to others. In light of this, you need to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Big, clear fonts and simple colors will help your viewers digest the information. Avoid big blocks of loud colors – you want to keep it subtle and visibly pleasing.
- Know what to ask for. You will need a PC connection or Scan Converter. You will need to ask for these at the time of the booking and there may be an additional cost. You should also ask for extra access time prior to the meeting to familiarize yourself with the materials and to set them up.
- Here are a couple of things to check just in case things may go wrong. These are some common mistakes: Keep content away from the edges. Sometimes the image will be a little cropped. This shouldn’t be too hard to do. Next, press F8 on your computer while presenting to open up a “second” screen so you can do your own things. Make sure you have a VGA connection and not an RGB one. Finally, make sure you have your AC power adapter and/or fully charged batteries for any machines being used.
- More on the features and benefits of WhyGo’s video conferencing (whygo.net)
- TelepresenceWorld to Enable Global B2B HD Video Conferencing for Australian Clients Over MNS (prweb.com)
Tips For Multipoint Video Conferences
When three or more sites come together for a remote collaboration, that multipoint format has some inherent challenges because you are, after all, not in the same place.
It’s a good idea to have one location manager for each site. This person is responsible to keep the details moving smoothly:
- the location manager acts as the host and facilitator for each site
- the location manager needs to understand how to adjust equipment as necessary, including muting and amplification when needed
- the location manager should have previously been given all documents and taken the time to preview them as they will be used in the meeting (format, etc.)
- the locations manager should announce changes at their site during the meeting (people leaving, technical issues, etc.)
When there are many sites connecting for a conference, it is generally considered wise to have an overall manager as well as the individual site location managers. This person acts as a traffic director would, ensuring the practical details are addressed.
- the overall manager should introduce each participant site and allow each site to introduce participants
- the overall manager should be experienced in video conferencing procedures and, if necessary, go over those procedures before starting
- the overall manager should intercede where necessary and restore order in open discussions
- the overall manager should track participation with a site list and ensure all parties have input in the meeting
- the overall manager should have a clear grasp of the agenda and timetable, with the authority to summarize key points and decisions as well as items for the next meeting
When you schedule multipoint video conferences with WhyGo, there will be a lot of support during the process. You can also take a look at our Training Material and Information Guides and give us a call if you have questions.
3 Ways Videoconferences Increase Productivity
The business meeting has a reputation of being a mind-numbing time of listening to people talk and wishing you were someplace else. This particularly happens in a telephone conference, because it is easy to hit the mute button to make a remark to a co-worker, check your email since nobody can see Â you, or even play a game on your cell phone. After all, nobody is watching!
Adding video to your conference does at least three things for the productivity of your team: youÂ raise the bar for preparation and research,Â discourage multitasking by visible accountability, andÂ decrease distractions by providing more stimulation.
A visual presentation always is more challenging than an audio spiel, and the presenter generally will be much more mindful of how the data is assembled and presented. It raises the bar to a higher level of excellence that will generally be met in a video conference by several types of remote sharing.
When you know someone can see you, you act right. How many of us check our speedometer when driving down the highway and seeing a police car on the berm? That same human reaction has an effect on behavior in a video conference. If you are only accountable for what the other members hear, you can get a way with a lot of activities that will not happen during a videoconference — and get a lot more done as a result.
One of the reasons that multitasking is so attractive during a phone conference is that the only stimulation happening is audial. People are just wired to need more than sound, and that is why video conferences are proving to be a more productive way to hold a remote meeting.
With WhyGo’s global network of public video conferencing and telepresence facilities, there’s really no need to limit your productivity to telephones. Explore your options with WhyGo and see how you can profit from using our network.
The blooper reel is a popular form of entertainment because we all make mistakes and can identify with the subject but we don’t want to be the star in “Things Gone Wrong At The Video Conference”.
A video conference is where you are trying to get things accomplished. In order to do this, you must keep these three things in mind:
This covers all the details leading up to the beginning of the video conference. Have your material ready, check your connections and equipment to make sure they work, go to the bathroom before it starts, make sure the area will be quiet and the lighting is adequate. If you are on a device, the battery should be fully charged or plugged into a power source.
Remember they can see you.
Don’t do that business-attire-above-the-waist thing. You don’t know if you will have to get up and display your fireballs pajama bottoms to your coworkers when you need to get something. They can see you scratch what itches, too. The expressions on your face are part of the value of video conferencing but it backfires if you are rolling your eyes or smirking at another’s contributions.
Remember they can hear you.
If you are one of the cell-phone-in-the-bathroom crowd, you might think it’s OK to wear your microphone in there, so you don’t miss out on important details of the meeting. This is a bad idea, almost guaranteed to make a funny story someone tells the next day. Any side remarks, cell phone game noises, and texting taps are going to be heard. If you are joining the conference from a coffee shop or your living room, background noises are going to be picked up in your mic.