Ten Rules of Etiquette for Videoconferencing

Re-post article by Sally French from wsj.com

It’s the big day. You have a videoconference with the chief executive of your company to pitch your ideas. You’re on time, and you couldn’t be more prepared for your presentation.

But are you up-to-date with your online—and on-camera—etiquette?

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Video services like Skype, Google Hangouts and Join.Me are increasingly flooding the workplace. They offer a sense of immediacy that conference calls cannot, and they deliver big savings in contrast with traveling for actual face-to-face meetings.

But videoconferencing comes with its own code of behavior that takes the place of yesterday’s manners for meetings. Indeed, don’t let the small screens and at times deceptively informal atmosphere fool you. There are right and wrong ways to conduct yourself—and lapses will be noticed.

We talked to experts on etiquette and videoconferencing. What follows are some of the most important do’s and don’ts for work-related video calls.

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DON’T TYPE. Typing during a video call not only creates distracting noise but also indicates you aren’t paying attention. Others on the call might assume you are working on something unrelated to the conversation. Even if you are taking notes, the sound of the keys can be distracting to others.

“It’s probably the biggest faux pas,” says Angie Hill, general manager of audience marketing at Skype.

TIP: If you do need to take notes, experts say, it is better to handwrite them. And if you absolutely must use your keyboard, hit the mute button.

MAKE EYE CONTACT. Maintaining eye contact builds trust and communicates that the conversation is important to you. But if you look directly into your computer’s camera so viewers can see your eyes, it is difficult to keep track of what’s happening on screen.

At the key moments when everyone’s eyes are on you, such as if you are presenting or introducing yourself, look at the camera. Otherwise, it is OK to look at the images of the other people on the call.

TIP: Move the video-chat window near your computer’s camera so you can both look at people’s faces and into the camera at once.

DON’T EAT. Would you really bring your tuna sandwich into the boardroom? No? Then don’t bring it into your video call, either. Just because the other conference guests can’t smell it doesn’t mean they can’t hear or see you chewing. Plus, food is the ultimate distraction.

“I’m now watching you eat a sandwich instead of paying attention to how brilliant you say you are,” says Lindsey Pollak, a workplace-etiquette consultant based in New York City. “And let’s be honest, nobody looks good eating.”

TIP: Put the sandwich down. And cover it up if you have to.

DISCOURAGE INTERRUPTIONS. With videoconferences, it can be tough for colleagues in the room with you to tell if you are in a meeting or simply working at your computer. Interruptions can break your train of thought, and make you look unprepared and unprofessional.

TIP: If you’re in a conference room or private office, put a note on the door. If you’re in a cubicle or at a bank of desks, use a signal to let colleagues know you are unavailable.

“I write the words ‘video call!’ on a piece of paper,” says Lizzie Post, descendant of etiquette nobility Emily Post and a spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute. “I freely admit this is dorky,” she says, “but if someone comes over, I hold it up, and it works.”

DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE. Need to use the restroom? While you may sometimes be able to get away with bringing a phone—on mute—into the bathroom, that obviously won’t work in this case.

About 24% of respondents voted this as the worst thing someone could do on-screen during a conference call, according to a survey by market-research firm Lab42 for Join.Me.

TIP: If it is a large meeting or you feel uncomfortable interrupting, just slip away and, if necessary, privately message a fellow participant saying you will be back shortly. If it is a small meeting, or you are the moderator, just ask to take a quick break.

PAY ATTENTION. Just because you can get away with online shopping during a conference call doesn’t mean you can in a video call. Everyone can see your eyes drifting away or your fingers typing, and they can tell you’re distracted.

TIP: Stay focused. Don’t look away from the screen. That is a clear indication that you aren’t engaged.

REMEMBER THE OUTLIERS. Sometimes a video call is between a room full of people and one person in a remote location. It’s important to ensure that people participating outside a group are included in the dialogue and given cues and openings for questions or comments. Otherwise, the people in the room can easily get caught up in their own conversation and forget to include the person on the call.

TIP: Raising a hand to speak is OK, especially when there is a lag time on the video feed. If you’re moderating the call, be proactive and ask if anyone has something they want to add.

CONTROL YOUR BACKGROUND. A messy background can cause people to focus on the clutter around you rather than on your words and ideas. Noise can be a problem, too, whether it is construction outside or a conversation at the next cubicle.

TIP: If your environment is too loud or messy, move to a conference room. A bare background isn’t a must, though. Interesting objects or designs could work in your favor by generating conversation.

HEAD OFF TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES. One of the biggest gaffes is when technical issues prevent a person from joining a call. You don’t want to open the video-chat service only to find you need a software update. Fumbling the sign-in and joining late as a result, or missing a meeting completely, can make a person look unprepared or technologically inept.

TIP: Join a videoconference before the appointed time to troubleshoot any possible connection problems. And when the meeting is over, make sure you end the call.

“The worst mistake I have ever heard of is someone thinking the call was over,” Ms. Post says. “They didn’t hang up properly and ended up saying something disparaging about the call. It was awkward for people on both ends.”

ACT AT HOME AS YOU WOULD AT THE OFFICE. Many of us occasionally work from home, so it is worth remembering that the same rules apply. Still, breaches of video-call etiquette are common.

In the survey by Lab42, 7% of respondents said they had seen someone participate in a videoconference from bed, while 17% of Americans have seen an attendee’s pet make an appearance. More than 20% admit to wearing pajamas—though with a more professional-looking top.

TIP: Stay out of bed. Keep pets and children out of the picture. And get dressed.

Ms. French is a reporter for MarketWatch in San Francisco. She can be reached at sfrench@marketwatch.com.

New Research Reveals Top Frustrations for Video Conferencing and Call Center Customers

Re-post article from businesswire.com

Inc. (NASDAQ:EGHT), the leading provider of global Enterprise Communications as a Service (ECaaS), today revealed results from a survey conducted at the Enterprise Connect show last week. The survey asked show attendees (IT decision makers, system integrators, equipment manufacturers, and end users) their opinions on video conferencing, call centers, and cloud communications.

The findings shed light on respondents’ key pain points around communications and collaboration experiences, specifically:

  • Cloud Communications: Security was the number one concern (35%), followed by quality of service (21%).
  • Call Centers: Over half of the respondents said getting transferred from agent to agent, or having to repeatedly identify themselves were their chief aggravators.
  • Video Conferencing: While poor sound or visual quality was the main frustration, connection issues and being asked to download an app were a close second.

The research echoes much of what is being discussed in the industry today, but more importantly highlights areas where vendors need to focus their efforts in delivering higher quality customer experiences– security, quality of service, and features across unified communications and contact center, that deliver instant, continuous communications across devices and platforms, all integrated into a single application.

Read more details on the survey on the 8×8 blog, that includes an infographic, and watch this “man on the street” video to hear show attendees directly share their frustrations and thoughts on their ideal communications and collaboration solution.

The survey was conducted between March 7-9, 2016 at the Enterprise Connect show in Orlando, Florida, and responses were gathered from a random selection of approximately 200 show attendees.

About 8×8, Inc.

8×8, Inc. (NASDAQ:EGHT) is the trusted provider of secure and reliable enterprise cloud communications solutions to more than 40,000 businesses operating in over 100 countries across six continents. 8×8’s out-of-the-box cloud solutions replace traditional on-premises PBX hardware and software-based systems with a flexible and scalable Software as a Service (SaaS) alternative, encompassing cloud business phone service, contact center solutions, and conferencing. For additional information, visit www.8×8.com, www.8×8.com/UK or connect with 8×8 on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Contacts

8×8, Inc.
Neha Mirchandani, 669-256-5095
neha.mirchandani@8×8.com
Jessie Adams-Shore, 707-337-1958
Jessie@speakeasystrategies.com

Lifesize Enhances All-in-One Collaboration Platform With Integrated Group Chat Across All Devices

Re-post article by Maria Galler and Jenna Finn from marketwired.com

Lifesize, a global provider of award-winning audio, web and video conferencing technology, today announced that it has expanded and enhanced the free chat functionality in its Lifesize Cloud service. By improving 1:1 chat and introducing group chat, Lifesize Cloud now aggregates the critical features for collaboration and meeting productivity into one easy-to-use application.

Lifesize group chat extends the conversation beyond the conference room, helping teams continue brainstorming, problem solving, and addressing questions more efficiently. And when the team wants to gather face-to-face, Lifesize chat instantly escalates to a video call with just one click. To keep projects moving forward, users can participate in chats in multiple meeting rooms, return to a previous chat session, or review their chat history.

Examples of how Lifesize’s group chat can increase productivity include:

  • For Project Teams: Seamless conversations across brainstorming sessions, ad-hoc and planned calls and meetings.
  • For Internal Communication: Strengthen company culture and enhance morale by helping employees feel more connected, including remote workers.
  • For Individuals: Chat with colleagues anytime, anywhere, in as many meeting rooms as required to maximize productivity.

“The global cloud-based conferencing market represents a $9.4 billion opportunity that remains extremely fragmented. Currently, companies are paying a premium for inconsistent experiences, slow adoption, reduced productivity, and increased security risks,” said Craig Malloy, Lifesize CEO. “The enhancement of our free chat feature solidifies Lifesize’s position as a leading all-in-one solution that consolidates the critical elements of collaboration into one offering, extending the conversation beyond the meeting. We continue to enhance the user experience and are excited to provide our rapidly growing customer base with even more productivity and value.”

In addition, the company extended its recording and sharing functionality, Lifesize Cloud Amplify, to Lifesize Cloud Web App. Users of this browser-based app can now easily record and instantly share meetings, trainings, messages and more with their team and other colleagues through their personal video library.

Lifesize’s video-based communication and collaboration technologies are unrivaled in meeting the intense demands of today’s enterprise, while remaining accessible to businesses of any size. Often, organizations work with five or more vendors — for conferencing hardware and bridging equipment as well as audio, web, video and chat services — to give employees the collaboration tools they need. Lifesize is the only company to bring together a radically simple cloud-based service with award-winning camera systems and HD phones. And, the combination of features rolled into one application — including chat, instant calling and recording — are intuitive and built to meet users’ needs.

Additional Information:
  • For more information about Lifesize, please visit www.lifesize.com
  • Experience Lifesize Cloud with the free 14-day Lifesize Cloud trial
  • Explore the “Eight Challenges Solved by Video Conferencing Guide”
  • Like Lifesize on Facebook: facebook.com/lifesizeHD
  • Follow @lifesizeHD on Twitter
  • Tweet now: .@LifesizeHD Enhances All-in-One Collaboration Platform with Integrated #GroupChat Across All Devices http://lfsz.vc/1pHAUqU
  • Join other customers for collaboration, advocacy and insights at community.lifesize.com
About Lifesize

At Lifesize, we understand the power of connecting people to make the workplace great. For more than a decade, Lifesize has been at the forefront of video conferencing and collaboration, delivering high-quality solutions designed to bring people together. We combine a best-in-class, cloud-based conferencing experience, with award-winning, easy-to-use cameras and phones that are designed for any conference room. You can connect to anyone, anywhere through a meeting experience like no other. For more information, visit www.lifesize.com or follow the company @LifesizeHD.

Lifesize and the Lifesize logo are trademarks of Lifesize, Inc. and may be registered. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

5 reasons your business needs video conferencing

Re-post article from Talkbusinessmagazine.co.uk

Video conferencing is paramount to explaining the success of the Internet. Today, it’s an incredibly straightforward and common way to communicate online – and merely ten years ago, its spread was nowhere near as large.

The Internet is always said to connect people and make the world smaller, but whereas anonymity and privacy rules in online boards and forums, dominating the world of text, video conferencing truly pulls people together the way they meant to be pulled together: face-to-face.

All that ties in beautifully with any business, because at its core, video conferencing is: cheaper than ever, easy to set up, and all about better communication within and outside the company’s walls.

1.) Small businesses need more time

It depends on your industry and the size of your company, but for the most part, funding and running a small business can be an incredible amount of stress. Video conferencing can make running a business easier in multiple ways – for one, it can completely eliminate the need for an office.

Companies can still meet each other face-to-face in a single video call with dozens of participants, and find a way to efficiently manage operations. The key is finding a quality video conferencing provider to make conference calls seamless. Companies like Blue Jeans beat free VOIP alternatives through offering a larger myriad of business-oriented features, and a focus on usability.

While one option to using video conferencing is to make outsourcing more feasible, another is to cut down on travel time and money when meeting clients. Professional video conferencing software can’t replace a face-to-face meeting, but it can replace some face-to-face meetings while maintaining a positive image of your company.

2.) Cut meetings short through video conferencing

It’s not exactly rocket science to figure out that meetings are a waste of time – in most cases, that is. The concept of a meeting works – assemble your company to go over, brainstorm and discuss the important matters of the day, week or month. But in reality, they’re gaping black holes in many people’s work schedules.

According to Attentiv, over a third of meeting goers consider meetings to be unproductive, and two-thirds of all meetings are started without a pre-planned agenda. Running a successful meeting is all about brevity and a controlled, democratic environment.

That’s where video conferencing comes in. Companies have previously made use of video conferencing to change the way they meet – and it helps. Not only does video conferencing give everyone an equal amount of screen time and vocal volume, it also puts people on the spot – they’re on camera, after all. Meeting goers are much less likely to surf around, work on other things, or fall asleep when they’re on a direct line with their boss, and a dozen other people. This lets meeting managers cut through distractions and get straight to what’s important: actually making decisions, with real input from the staff.

3.) Make use of telecommuting

Any company can benefit from telecommuting. You don’t have to give up an office to make use of a work-from-home workforce. For those who can make it work, working from home can be an incredible financial asset. Less time spent commuting and less energy spent at the company’s expense means better profits for the business, while video conferencing maintains a real, face-to-face connection between employees and their employers.

Long-term employees aside, freelancers or an outsourced team can also be better communicated with through a simple daily video chat.

4.) Bring client meetings and project discussions online

You don’t have to fly to Paris on a monthly basis to speak to your client when you can speak to them face-to-face from your London office. And even better, you don’t have to depend on just hearing their voice to get a good grasp of how things are going over there.

According to a study by Wainhouse Research, video conferencing is being used often even during those inevitable physical meetings when people simply have to hit the road. You can speak face-to-face to your employees and staff while crossing the channel.

5.) Screen freelancers and telecommuters like never before

Today, finding a freelancer is incredibly easy. Thanks to the Internet, the world is full of skilled workers at various degrees of experience looking for any number of jobs. But how can you find a qualified professional when you’ve got little else to work with than a profile and instant messaging? You use video calling. Nothing substitutes for a face-to-face meeting, and doing that online through microphones and webcams is still enough to get a grasp for who you’re going to be working with.

There are plenty other reasons to give video conference calling a try – not the least of which is the fact that it’s simply much, much easier and cheaper now than ever before. Video is getting more and more use on a daily basis as tablets, smartphones and laptops become common items among professionals in all industries, and video communication is becoming the norm on the personal front. So why not make use of its benefits in business?

Logitech Spins Out Video Conferencing Unit Lifesize

Re-post article by Jeffrey Burt from eweek.com

Three venture capital firms have invested $17.5 million into Lifesize, though Logitech will retain a 37.5 percent share in the company.

Logitech, which bought video conferencing vendor Lifesize Communications in 2009 at a time when companies were looking to the technology as a way of saving money, is spinning out the business, though it will keep a hand in it.

Logitech officials in late December announced that Lifesize was being spun out and had raised $17.5 million from several new investors—Redpoint Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures and Meritech Capital Partners. Logitech will retain a 37.5 percent share in the company, which will run as a private entity. It will now be known as Lifesize Inc.

There were few details about Lifesize’s future plans coming from officials of either Lifesize or Logitech, though Lifesize CEO Craig Malloy said the company has “big plans moving forward” that officials will share in the coming weeks.

“We’re committed to delivering the most dynamic cloud-based video collaboration and meeting platform to the market, and to accelerating our exceptional growth into 2016 and beyond,” Malloy wrote in a brief post on the company blog, adding that spinning out the company “is the culmination of many months of hard work.”

In a statement, Logitech officials said the move will enable Logitech to continue its efforts to become a simpler and more nimble company and to focus more on its retail business. In addition, it will allow Lifesize to grow faster as a cloud-based provider of video conferencing services, and that the company will benefit from the experience in the video conferencing space of the three new investors.

The relationship between Logitech and Lifesize over the years has been an uncomfortable one at times. When Logitech bought the company in 2009, the deal came as the world was dealing with the crushing recession and companies were looking for ways to increase employee productivity while driving down costs, both of which video conferencing can address.

However, Lifesize was in a market that included such established vendors as Cisco Systems and Polycom, and in 2013 Logitech officials said they were considering selling the business, which at the time was seeing sales drop as competition increased and the video conferencing space continued its transition away from room-based equipment to cloud- and software-based offerings.

A year later, Malloy—who founded Lifesize in 2003 but had left in 2012 to pursue other opportunities—returned to the company and has since overseen an aggressive push into the cloud. In May 2014, three months after Malloy returned to the company, Lifesize launched Lifesize Cloud, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering the CEO said will deliver business-class video collaboration to organizations that is scalable, easy to use and affordable. Since then, the company has expanded on its vision to enable users to participate in conferences from wherever they are and on any device they choose, including notebooks, smartphones and tablets.

“For the very first time, we are enabling any company of any size to completely and cost-efficiently supply their entire staff with video conferencing,” Malloy told eWEEK at the time.

Lifesize’s embrace of the cloud addresses the growing demand from businesses trying to manage such trends as increasing workforce mobility, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and social software. Lifesize is not alone in the effort: Cisco, Polycom, Avaya and other established players also are broadening their cloud portfolios, and a growing number of smaller vendors—such as Vidyo and Blue Jeans Network—also are gaining traction with cloud-only offerings.

Last month, analysts with IHS Infonetics said businesses are continuing to embrace video communications technologies and that the trend continues to be away from in-house infrastructure to cloud-delivery models. They said they expect revenue of cloud video conferencing services to hit $281 million in 2015, a 25 percent jump over the previous year.

Logitech also sells its own video conferencing equipment, though officials last year noted that the company’s products complement Lifesize’s cloud efforts.