As organizations settle into the new world of virtual meetings, some have taken to the latest technology quickly, while some have struggled. And while most companies have figured out the basics by now, there are little things (that have a big impact), which individuals need to look out for to keep meetings professional and effective.
If you, or your team, are suffering from any of these video call etiquette mistakes, fix them now.
1. Bad camera angles
A common issue is retrofitting older technology. Some cameras are separate from the computer, resting on the desk or a shelf. If your camera isn’t at eye level, you’re setting yourself up for, at the very least, an awkward meeting.
Imagine looking into a screen of faces, trying to feel connected to each one. And then one of those images that should be showing a face is actually showing a view of a neck and chin or is peering down on its subject from above. While you can’t exactly make pure eye contact on a video meeting, you can place your camera at eye level, so when you look at and talk to the faces on your screen, those listening are looking directly into your face.
Eye contact, facial expressions, and body language are all critical parts of catching and holding the attention of others. Imagine trying to sell someone a product, or give critical feedback to an employee while they stare at the folds of your neck. Not a pretty sight. And not a way to make people feel connected to you.
Get that camera at eye level, and make sure you’re looking into it, for the good of everyone in your meeting. Your neck will thank you.
2. Browsing your computer
Even though you think you’re being stealthy, everyone can tell when you start browsing the web, checking your email, or working on a different project. Your face changes, your eyes stop focusing, and your body language starts to say, “I’m not listening.” Whether or not you think you can multitask, you’re eventually going to end up missing something or saying something that doesn’t make sense.
It’s not only disrespectful to everyone else on the call, but it turns efficient meetings into ineffective time wasters. You wouldn’t pull your phone out during a face-to-face meeting, so don’t do the equivalent just because you’re sitting in your living room.
3. Getting off-topic
One of the great things about video calls is the easy access to all your work, which you can bring up to show/share at your beck and call. There is something wonderfully efficient about pulling up related project documents for everyone to view simultaneously during a meeting. Screen sharing is great. And so is having all your material with you all the time.
But while it can be useful, it also opens the door for meetings to get off track. It’s easy to say, “Well, while we’re looking at this, I might as well show you this other thing that is sort of relevant but not directly on topic.”
Just because you have everything with you doesn’t mean it’s most efficient to talk about it all right now. One of the first rules of calling a meeting – whether in person or over video – is setting an agenda. If you keep finding yourself getting sidetracked by items that aren’t on the agenda, you’ve got a distraction problem that needs your focused attention to get back on track.
While you may have put off making some of the fine-tuning adjustments to your video calling because of how quickly you had to adapt, it’s time to start thinking long term. Virtual meetings and working from home are here to stay, so you better get comfortable with meetings in front of a camera.
You don’t want to look around in six months and realize all your competitors or co-workers have their virtual meeting skills down to a T while you are still struggling. And luckily, it doesn’t take much to make the adjustments. And when you do, it makes all the difference.
Photo by Luis Molinero Martínez
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