Well, hasn’t the world of work changed recently?
As we write this post, the world is currently in lockdown thank to the Coronavirus pandemic. Here in the UK, we’ve been under lockdown conditions for several weeks now, which has massively altered not only the way we work at Claritel but also the work we are doing for our customers.
As a leading supplier of business telephone solutions in Blackburn, Lancashire, we’ve been working hard over the past few weeks to ensure all our customers can move smoothly from an office-based business to a work from home solution. And one of the biggest changes that businesses have seen over recent weeks is the move to video conferencing.
Why Has There Been Such An Increase In Video Conferencing?
Let’s face it, if you haven’t been on a video conferencing call recently, you’re in the minority. Even those who aren’t in business have been using video conferencing for the first time in their lives, often just to keep in touch with friends and family. We’ve had video conference meetings, video conference parties, even the government and Royal Family have been running the country via video conferencing software.
When we’re all unable to meet in person, it’s the best option for ensuring the world continues to turn.
The problem, however, is that, as so many people are now using this technology, there are often multiple people on calls who have never used it before and are unsure of how to use it correctly or the video conferencing etiquette involved.
Our Top Tips For Improving Your Video Conference
But fear not, because Claritel is here to help. Here are our top ten tips for better video conferencing.
- Choose The Right Platform
- Have A Good Internet Connection
- Ensure All Attendees Have The Invitation
- Start On Time
- Frame Your Camera Properly
- Have An Appropriate Background
- Use A Good Quality Headset
- Dress Appropriately
- Look Engaged
- Reduce Distractions
Let’s delve a little more deeply into these.
1. Choose The Right Platform
There are many platforms outs there at the moment offering video conferencing solutions but it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Should you use Zoom, Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting?
When choosing the right platform for your business, it’s important to consider what level of security your business needs (do you need end-to-end encryption, for example?), the cost implications (can your business afford to pay for a platform or do you want a free version?) and who in your team will be using it (are they experienced at video conferencing and using new software or are they a novice?). The answer to ‘which video conferencing software is right for my business?’ will very much depend on all those things.
Here at Claritel, we’ve been helping our customers get set up with the correct working from home software and systems for several weeks now so we’re able to ensure you’re set up on the right platforms for your circumstances. If you’d like help with working out which video conference software is right for you, then please speak to the Claritel team and we’ll be happy to advise you.
2. Have A Good Internet Connection
Video conferencing takes up quite a lot of bandwidth, so it’s important to have a decent high-speed internet connection if you want your video calls to be a success. There’s nothing worse than people dropping in and out of meetings, meaning that important points need to be repeated or the entire meeting is delayed.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re going to be making video calls, you’ll probably need about 3 – 5 Mbps. Unfortunately, as many people are now working from home, home broadband is often much lower quality than it would be in the office, which is precisely why you need Claritel.
If you’re struggling with your home internet connection right now, get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do to help. If we can’t improve the infrastructure to your home quickly, we’ll usually be able to provide you with an interim solution, such as a dongle or a mobile phone, which will ensure you’re up and running and making successful business calls in no time.
3. Ensure All Attendees Have The Invitation
We’ve all been there; you start your video conference and then the people you’re supposed to be meeting with start emailing you or texting you to say they can’t find the link or they’ve lost the code to get in etc.
You’re never going to be able to prevent this altogether, it’s a fact of life. However, you can do your best to minimise it.
Best practice is to send a calendar invitation at the time you first book the meeting, with the link or password included. You can then follow this up shortly before the meeting starts with a reminder email and, if you have the recipients mobile phone number, a text or WhatsApp message too. This ensures that, whether your attendees are joining from their phone or laptop, they will have the information to hand and any late joining is their fault, not yours.
4. Start On Time
Would you turn up late for a business meeting in person? Well, don’t do it for a video call then.
If you’re the host, make sure you open the meeting room a few minutes before the meeting is due to start, so attendees can log in and ensure their camera and microphone etc. are working before the meeting proper begins. This reduces unnecessary delays and ensures your meetings run smoothly and are productive.
If you have things to prepare yourself for the meeting, you can simply open the room but turn your camera and microphone off (ensure you have an appropriate holding picture!) until you are ready to join.
If you are an attendee, don’t wait until the meeting is due to start before you begin looking for the meeting link or joining code. Have these to hand and start logging on a few minutes before the scheduled time. This is especially important if it’s the first time you’ve used a particular platform, as you may be required to go through a setup process.
5. Frame Your Camera Properly
How many times have you had a video conference recently with someone and all you’ve been able to see is up their nose? It’s happened to us a few times.
The whole idea of video conferencing is that you are able to see the other person and communicate with them in a much more natural, human way. If all you can see is the corner of someone’s eye or the top of their head, then it defeats the point. It’s also very distracting.
Similarly, if you are being invited to a video conference, then do not participate with your camera turned off. It’s just plain rude and hinders the meeting for others.
Hence, before the meeting starts, ensure your laptop or smartphone is positioned somewhere where the camera will frame your face properly and use the platform’s testing stage (most video conferencing software will enable you to test your picture before you join) to ensure you’re getting a good image. For example, is your face in the middle of the screen? Is it positioned at a good angle that doesn’t make you look like a yeti? Is the lighting good around you? etc.
6. Have An Appropriate Background
Before lockdown, when we were all video calling from the office, it was easy to have a professional background. Now, it’s a little more tricky. However, it’s still important that you consider what’s in the background of your screen before you start making your video call.
Don’t forget, the other members will be able to see what’s behind you as well as you, so you don’t want them to get a view of 3 days’ worth of washing up in the sink, the boxes of rubbish you’ve dumped in your spare room or your mountains of dirty laundry.
If you can, position yourself in front of a plain background with few distractions. Perhaps you even have a roller banner or expo display that you could use and set up behind you?
Failing that, most platforms give you the ability to have a virtual background, where you can choose one of their images or upload your own, such as your logo. These can be glitchy, however, so if you can create a more professional ‘real’ background then it often works better.
7. Use A Good Quality Headset
One of the problems of video calling from home is that there are often other noises happening around, plus our home laptops and computers don’t tend to have great microphones attached to them.
Again, we’ve all been on video conferencing calls with people who have been practically screaming into their laptops, yet we still haven’t been able to hear them.
If you’re struggling to be heard on conference calls, or if you’re struggling to hear the call despite turning your volume up loud, then we recommend you invest in a proper headset. This will not only block out all external sound and allow you to focus on (and hear) the meeting you’re in, but it will also ensure you can be heard properly.
Claritel is suppliers for high-quality headsets at very reasonable prices and – unlike many online retailers – we’ve got them in stock right now. If you’re looking for a quality headset, get in touch with us today and we’ll be able to select the right one for you and get it shipped to your home ASAP.
8. Dress Appropriately
It’s the obvious one, but you can’t turn up to a business meeting in your pyjamas. Of course, we’re not saying you have to wear a full three-piece suit or your best hat, but you will need to at least get dressed and brush your hair.
As we mentioned above, it’s not acceptable to join a video call with your camera off, so you can’t use the excuse of ‘I haven’t put my face on’ any more. You will be seen by your colleagues and business associates, and you might even be photographed or recorded and put on social media, so make sure you attend your video conference in the same state as you would a meeting in the office.
Whether you choose to wear your pyjamas underneath is, of course, entirely up to you!
9. Look Engaged
This is not so much an issue if there are only one or two people on a call, but we’ve been on many video conference calls recently with several attendees, where there has been at least one person zoning off into space!
Again, if you were at a business meeting in an office, it’s unlikely you would sit and stare off into space, do your nails or check your emails, so don’t do it on video calls either. Don’t forget that the other attendees can all see you.
They can also tell if you start looking at other screens on your laptop – especially if you’re wearing glasses, as the new screen you’re looking at will reflect in the lenses.
Even if it’s the most boring meeting you’ve ever attended, make sure you remain looking at the camera or person talking on the screen and ensure your face remains interested. Because believe us, people will notice if you don’t.
10. Reduce Distractions
We all recognise that we are in exceptional times; people are working from home with the rest of the family stuck in the house too. Particularly for those with small children, this is especially challenging.
However, it can similarly be very distracting when on video calls if normal life is continuing in the room around the person attending. Again, we won’t be the only ones recently who have experienced conference calls with people who have children coming in and out of the room, partners shouting around the house, even cats walking across the laptop and blocking the camera.
In these strange times, the odd distraction will absolutely be tolerated, but it’s still important to do what you can to minimise the chaos happening around you as much as possible. If you can, sit in a quiet room and reduce any external noise (a headset will help with this) as much as possible, it will help your video conferences run smoothly.
Contact Claritel For Help With Video Conferencing
So there we have our top ten tips on video conferencing etiquette.
We’d love to hear from you, however, so please tell us your worst video conferencing faux pas or the funniest thing you’ve seen recently on a conference call. We know there are some amazing horror stories out there but we’d love to hear yours.
And if you want to make sure your video conferencing doesn’t end up as someone else’s horror story, why not get in touch with Claritel and let us ensure your working from home setup is perfectly suited to you, your staff and your business? We’re experts in this field now, so we can always find the right solution for you.
Happy video conferencing!