Business as Usual from an Unusual Place…Video Conferencing

working from home imageAnd just like that, we all need to be video conferencing experts, and some of us need to figure out how to keep it professional with 3 kids and a dog in the background.  But as we try to juggle work, family and anxiety of what is to come, I thought it might be nice to re-publish this blog from my colleague, Melissa Sellers, with some updates for what we are dealing with today. We offer some ideas of video conferencing software and etiquette.  Now, not only are we using video conferencing for occasional remote  client meeting, but our day to day interactions with our co-workers.  So making sure you follow basic video conferencing etiquette can make sure your online meetings go smoothly.

Video Conferencing – Our New Normal

Setting up yourself up in a quiet corner of your home with a strong wi-fi connection is ideal is the best way to ensure a successful conference call.  But, right now, a lot of us are not working in our ideal situation.  Libraries are advertising you can still use their wi-fi from outside of their buildings.  So if your wi-fi isn’t stable or strong enough to hold a conference call, or your office space at this time isn’t quiet enough, maybe your car can be your conference room for today.

Sharing your screen or going one step further with a video conference creates a more personal meeting, even when you are not all in the same physical location. There are many types of services that offer software for video conferences, and you’ll want to do some research to see which software best fits your budget and needs. GoTo Meeting offers a free 14 day trial, which may get you through your work at home time without having to sign up and pay for their service. PCMag says GoTo Meeting is one of the easiest conferencing services to use, so if you only need if you have room in your budget to pay for their service, it may be a good choice.  PCMag also recognizes Zoom and JoinMe as great, easy-to-use options with generous free plans.

Video Conferencing Tips

Whether it’s just you and your co-worker brainstorming ideas, you and your project partner trying to figure out ways around the latest roadblock, or you are meeting with a client, here are some tips to ensure a professional, productive video conference, there are some basic etiquette rules to follow, whether you are the presenter (host) or simply an attendee. 

If you’re the host:

1. Send out your meeting request with advance notice, so that people have it on their calendar. Include an agenda so that your attendees are familiar with the material to be covered.

2. Go over your presentation or outline at least once before the meeting, so you don’t stumble over your words or get off track.

3. Take some time to test your equipment and software before starting your web conference, to minimize the chance of experiencing technical difficulties during the meeting.

4. Background noise can be a productivity killer to an online meeting. Dogs barking, phones ringing, or voices from the room can make it very hard to hear and concentrate for all attendees.

If you are an attendee:

1. Take time to look over the agenda or any other materials that the host sent out before the meeting, so you can be prepared to participate.

2. Log in early, sometimes unfamiliar web conference software can be a stumbling block and you might experience some difficulty logging in.

3. During the meeting, if the webcam is on…pay attention. You don’t want to be seen picking lettuce out of your teeth or snoozing during the call!

4. Finally, remove distractions during the web conference. (phone, IM) Especially if you are sharing your screen – everyone else in the conference will see your messages if they pop up on your screen.

Following basic etiquette rules while you are conferencing with clients or coworkers helps maintain a positive atmosphere and build/maintain solid relationships even when everyone is not in the same location. First and foremost though, these are trying times for everyone, we should all be using grace and kindness as we adjust to our new “normal”.  If Fido decides he needs to loudly greet the mailman in the background, or your twelve year old inadvertently plays a starring role in the background of your video conference doing the latest tik-tok dance, laugh it off, because we could all use a good laugh today.

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