The right way to Take part in Video Conferencing Calls With out Trying Like a Idiot
You know you saw them: Cringe-worthy posts about people in video calls doing things that make you wince.
Like this guy whose kids sneaked into a news interview. Or the woman who went to the toilet during a job interview. (I won't even link to it because … poor Jennifer.)
I even have my own terrifying story. In 2007 I worked at Nickelodeon and we had a weekly team meeting on a good, old fashioned conference call line. If you were in a conference call, you had to click * 68 to mute and then click * 68 to unmute it again. (And to be fair to me and my reputation for generally not being stupid, our landline phones didn't have fancy screens that showed us whether we were muted or not.) You can see where that is going, right ?
In short, my son (who was two years old at the time and was training potty training) had to use the toilet. I followed him into the room. I thought I was dumb. He started peeing directly in the air and on my walls, ceilings and floors. I yelled at him very loudly to hold on to his little number. I wasn't silent.
It is now 2020. My employees are still talking about it.
Because of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, many of us are able to work from home, which means that as a global workforce, we do a lot more conference calls. (And can we all stop in a moment of gratitude for tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts that make it very clear when we are muted and our video is on?)
With more conference calls, the potential for convulsive moments increases, and many of us are trying to figure out exactly how we can avoid being the one person who has done this one thing.
I've been working from home for the past 15 years and I'm pretty sure I've been on the phone for about 14,324,234 hours. During that time I learned a lot about what to do, what not to do and how not to become an internet meme.
In all seriousness, many of us are currently in a place where we need to find out how we can be good employees and managers on video calls. There are a lot of people out there who have never done this, and although they want to do it well, they just don't know how.
To help you, our team has put together a list of tips to make you the best videoconferencer you can be. Download it for free below and share it with all of your coworkers and friends.
How to make a video conference like a pro
(Even if you just downloaded Zoom 10 minutes ago)
- Make sure people can hear you when you speak.
- If you have a good, strong internet connection (if you can stream Netflix, you're good), connecting to your computer's audio is the best choice.
- If your home internet connection is slow, you should probably connect to your video call using the dial-up option.
- If you hear an Echooo Echooo Echooo it means someone is not muted and should be. Tell everyone except the speaker to mute their lines.
- If your doorbell rings or your dog barks violently at the postman, mute your line!
- If you need to leave the room for a moment, mute your line! (We can almost guarantee that the moment you leave a call and mute your line is the moment your child decides to test his song for the Justin Bieber remix competition.)
- Do you feel a topic here? Mute your line! Mute your line! Mute your line!
- But if you speak, definitely deactivate your line! (It is quite embarrassing to give a detailed explanation and determine that no one has heard a word you have said.) Speak straight and clearly into the microphone. Speak loudly. Pronounce. Repeat if necessary.
- Oh, and when you're done, you guessed it … mute your line!
- If possible, turn on your video. It shows your colleagues that you are there and are taking part in the conversation.
- Place your computer on a flat surface. Stay here. Don't go around. Do not pick up your computer. Do not do a quick load of laundry. Don't go to the gym to exercise quickly. Don't go over there. And whatever you do, don't, we repeat, don't go to the bathroom.
- If you need to get up, turn off your video and mute your audio before doing so. Don't let your peers stare at an empty room or worse, while romping in the background.
- Make sure you are dressed appropriately to be on video. Get dressed as if you were really in the office. (Yes, we're looking at everyone who is so proud to be rocking these crazy sweats now. You will thank us if you forgot to turn off your video and get up quickly.)
- Mysteries are fun on nightly television, but are definitely not on business calls. Do your employees a favor and make sure you work in a well-lit room.
Recording & screenshots
- If you record the call so you can reference it, that's fine. Just let everyone on the line know you're recording.
- Do not upload video conference call recordings to public websites (such as YouTube or Facebook) unless you and everyone else wants them to be shared publicly.
- Gladly take screenshots of slides and other screen shares, but never take a screenshot of a person's face. And NEVER take a screenshot of someone whose face is frozen in a terrible expression and share it with the world. It's just not cool.
- If you have a question you want to ask the speaker, add it to the chat area. It's a great way to ask without interrupting the speaker.
- If you have a private question for one or two members, use the private chat feature.
- If you do not want the teacher to know what is on the note, do not share the note. Sending private backchannel chats to other conference members is really rude, yes, but most video conferencing tools allow the account holder to download a full transcript of the chat, including private chats, after each call.
Bonus pro tips
Now that you're a real video conferencing professional, here are some pro tips that only the best video conferencing providers know:
- Find out about the special features of the tool you are using.
- Zoom has a touch-up feature that allows you to filter your video to optimally illuminate your face and fix bugs. It's basically a tan for your video call.
- You can add other filters to most tools. Just think, if you call, you can be Kermit the frog, and the next, you can have a toilet paper halo.
- Many tools are built into the audio function of your computer to ensure that your sound quality is as good as possible.
- If you are working on multiple screens, make sure that the zoom on the screen is open with the camera. Otherwise people will see the side of your face.
- Don't eat on calls or make sure you eat something that makes everyone super jealous. Like a taco. If you have a taco, be sure to eat it when you call.
Finally: you have it. It's hard, yes, but not as difficult as potty training. Or make tacos.