The unwritten rules of video conferencing
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The unwritten rules of video conferencing

30th May 2015
By Candice Choo

Regardless of whether you’ve hosted or participated in a video conference or not, there are unwritten rules that people often fail to inform you of.

To most, it seems fairly straight forward; you join a conference call, you connect to video, and then your meetings are underway.  Often what they don’t tell you is that there are certain expectations i.e. unwritten rules of video conferencing that aren’t always talked about, but instead, assumed knowledge…So it’s time that someone tells you about the simple yet fundamental rules of video conferencing.

1.  Come prepared: the pre-meeting essentials

If you’re a host, enter your room early.  Unless you already know how to use your video conferencing service, it’s worth entering your room a couple of minutes before your scheduled meeting because participants never want to be left waiting for you to figure out how to use the service you chose; not to mention that it looks unprofessional.

Most video conferencing services have screen share, file storage and/or present a file capabilities.  It’s best to upload relevant files prior to your meeting because this is a short but valuable investment of your time to ad visuals to your presentation and ensure that all relevant material can easily be transitioned between.

2.  Create and stick to the agenda: minimising meetings running overtime

One of the biggest (but easily presentable) mistakes that hosts make when scheduling their meetings, is forgetting to include the details for the video conference.  To prevent this from happening, it’s best practice to include the login details in the calendar invite, as this ensures that the dial-in numbers, the URL and PIN are all easily accessible.

Conversation in meetings often end up unrelated to the intended purpose, so creating an agenda and including this in your calendar invites provides a more structured approach.  Not to mention by providing a clear and concise outline as a reference point for all attendees, the prospect of topics diverting away from the intended aim is minimised.

3. Engage with those on the call

Whether it’s audio, video or web conferencing, the point of any conference call is to collaborate.  Many assume that any kind of conference call is their opportunity to sit back, throw a stress ball around or YouTube funny videos…but this isn’t the case at all.  Due to the nature of a video conference (by providing visuals), the host and participants can both see how their topics or ideas are being received as well as identify whether you’re paying attention or not.  So it’s not only important for all participants to pay attention to the discussion, but it’s also important for the hose to engage with those on the call to make sure that participants don’t lose focus.

4. The mute button is there to be used

If you’re under the assumption that it is bad etiquette or rude to put yourself on mute, then you’ve been misinformed.  It can be the most time-consuming task to identify which participant in any conference call has background noise of people discussing what they had for lunch or what their weekend plans are during your meeting.  Often people think that putting themselves on mute shows a lack of interest but instead, it actually allows speakers to be heard without interruptions.  For those who have experienced the frustration of background noise before, they will be able to tell you that trying to pinpoint the source of background noise can be painfully time-consuming.