As the world of work grows more global and the number of remote workers continues to increase, videoconferencing is fast becoming a key skill for business people. Our research shows that 40% of employees across the world currently use videoconferencing, rising to 61% in China and 60% in Mexico. But conducting a successful video conference is about more than simply switching on your camera.
Keep an eye on your microphone: First things first, check your settings. With most videoconferencing software you can conduct a test to ensure your microphone and webcam are working as they should be. Once the conference begins, keep your finger poised over the mic button. Ideally you want to mute your microphone when you’re not speaking, as background noise can be disruptive, but be ready to un-mute immediately when you want to respond to the speaker.
Set up your space: A low angled shot can be very unflattering, not to mention distracting for the other participants. You should also choose a well-lit space for your call, so that the other participants are able to see you clearly. If it’s sunny, you may need to draw the curtains and turn on a side-lamp to avoid glare.
Stay focused: While you can easily check your emails or catch up on work during long-winded phone calls, the visual element of a video conference doesn’t allow you the same leeway. Make sure you’re somewhere without distractions – you’re far less likely to miss something important this way. If a home office is noisy, you can book a meeting room at your local Regus location.
Although it can be tempting to stare at your own image during the call, try to maintain eye contact with the camera instead – especially when you’re speaking. This creates the illusion that you’re looking the participants in the eye. If you look anywhere else on the screen, it’ll seem as though you’re gazing off to the side (even if you’re fully focused on the presentation).
Be engaging as well as engaged: If you’re presenting the videoconference, treat it as you would an in-person training session. Call out participants by name, ask them questions to ensure they’re listening, and keep looking at the camera. Don’t simply read out your slides (your participants could do that themselves with the Powerpoint file). If you’re a participant in the call, nod along with points you agree with and don’t be afraid to jump in with questions. When you do, remember to un-mute your microphone, look into the camera and introduce yourself before speaking ("Hey, it’s [name]. I was just wondering…").
By following the same principles and professionalism as you would in a face-to-face boardroom meeting, your videoconferencing skills will quickly improve.