Imagine you are on an online meeting, and you are watching a demonstration on a collaboration solution with a team of your co-workers for your business. Imagine you are so engaged with the presentation on engaging new platform that you realize this is the direction you want to take your business. You ask the host a question and she stands up to retrieve some paperwork needed to answer the question...and when she stands up all of a sudden you can only see a completely bared pregnant belly in your monitor!
That did not just happen to me; I was the host who stood-up and showed my audience much more than they ever wanted to see of me. I was so mortified! I was so engaged in the demonstration and questions that I had completely forgotten that the shirt I chose to wear for the demonstration no longer buttoned completely down, given that I was 7 months pregnant at the time. What does one do in that situation? Well, I chuckled and continued on with the rest of the demonstration hoping that my audience had looked away from the monitor at exactly the moment I stood up.
As I was recently telling a friend this story, the idea of a few tips of what not to do and what to do on a video conference came into my mind....
1) What to wear to a Video Conference
Dress appropriately – Remember that when you are on a video conference, you are in a face-to-face meeting. Would you go to a customer appointment in your pajamas or a maternity shirt that no longer fits? With much of the workforce telecommuting now, it’s very easy to be caught dressed down on a webcam. Plan ahead; if you know you are going to be presenting with a web cam that day, dress as if you were presenting live.
2) Hold off doing that until you are off of the video conference
Hold off on lunch or snacks – While we all have been guilty of eating lunch at our desks or grabbing a quick snack, hold off doing that until you are done video conferencing, and/or audio conferencing call. The audience wants to hear what you have to say, not what you are munching on and there’s nothing worth than the munching in your ear.
3) Yep...your audio works really well
Keep the background noise to a minimum – If you are telecommuting during a video or audio conference, make sure that you are in a quiet area with limited background noise such as other people speaking, dogs barking, kids crying, etc. I once joined a conference call on a day when my 2-year old son was home sick. During this call my son suddenly started screaming and yelling. I tried to mute my phone but it was too late; the other participants were already laughing and commenting at the strength of his lungs. Luckily this call was with colleagues and not with customers.
4) Stay tuned-in during your web meeting
Turn off any distractions outside of the web conference – You can really get yourself in an embarrassing situation if you have an instant message or email come through if you are sharing your desktop. I’ve learned a lot about colleagues just by seeing the emails or instant messages that have come through while they are sharing their desktop and my guess is that they would have preferred if I had not learned that information. Get in the practice to shut down your email and instant message prior to starting the meeting even if you are not sharing your desktop.
5) Take a test run before your web conference
Test the equipment – Zoom Conferencing is an amazing tool to utilize but it is technology. Make sure that your computer has all of the proper clients installed prior to the date of your presentation. You may have just recently purchased a new headset or webcam; if it’s new, doesn’t always mean it’s going to work properly with the system that you are presenting from. Take the time to test all equipment out that you will be using the day of the meeting. Do a dry-run with the presentation uploaded, using your headset and your webcam. If you don’t, you are taking a chance of the presentation being interrupted and your audience leaving at that point.
6) Web meeting timeliness
Be considerate of time – Never show up late or start a meeting late. Even if it’s a minute late, it’s still late and can be considered inconsiderate of others. If you have scheduled the presentation for an hour, keep it to the hour timeframe. Everyone else is just as busy as you are and that needs to be respected.
Zoom is a must in today’s workplace and is being used more and more. It’s not quite as formal as it was 10 years ago but just because it has become more informal, it’s important to remember the conferencing etiquette listed above otherwise it can cost you a lot of business.
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