Re-Posted | Article by Scott Hartley | 27 July, 2015
As cloud-based video conferencing apps expand the availability of video conferencing to individuals and small business, there are some tips and tricks that participants will need to know. Avoiding common video conferencing mistakes can help to make Blue Jeans video conferences a great experience for everyone involved.
Increasing collaboration and cooperation between departments can really boost productivity and innovation, and make video conferencing meetings something to look forward to instead of something you’d rather schedule dental surgery than attend.
Basic tips and tricks
Some of the most effective tips and tricks are preventative in nature. These are things you want to do before the conference to ensure that everything runs smoothly. When you’re preparing for online meetings with Blue Jeans network, you’re going to want to look for a place with low ambient noise levels and good lighting for your meeting. Low ambient noise levels mean that there are no distracting background noises to disrupt the flow of the meeting or distract the participants. For instance, you wouldn’t hold a video conference in a noisy cafeteria, the sounds of other people’s conversations and even street noise can be distracting. Likewise you want to have a well-lit area where lighting can be focused on the presenters and not be too glaring or too dark. You may also want to do a test run for audio and video to make sure that everything is working correctly rather than delaying or interrupting the meeting to fix those problems.
For video conferencing novices, you may want issue guidelines on how to dress and how to speak to the assemblage. Letting people know that, for instance that Paisley shirt that looks great off-camera can distort distractingly on camera. Likewise color should neither be too bright or too dark. Northwestern University advises that neutral, muted, or pastel solids are preferred on camera. A dry run to test sound and video can also include tips on addressing the camera and speaking into the microphone directly, using a speaking tone of voice, and limiting motion are also very useful in retaining participants focus on what is being said rather than saying it.
Etiquette is also important in video conferencing, as it is in real-time interactions. Participants should start by introducing themselves by name and location. For example, “This is Pat Jones from accounting in Chicago.” This helps participants to identify who is speaking and from where. Likewise when asking questions, participant should direct them towards a specific individual so that there is no confusion about who is being addressed. Someone could say, “I have a question for John Smith in the advertising department at Detroit.”
Meeting hosts should also be prepared to act as moderators, and keep order so that the meeting does not run out of control or that it is not dominated by a few individuals. Psychology Today advises that having a concrete start and finish time, a clear agenda, and keeping a tight focus help to keep everything on track. At the same time, understand that during long meetings attendees will most likely need breaks to get up, walk around and check their email or voicemail. Meetings should ideally last no more than an hour, according to Forbes magazine, however if meetings run over the stated finish time, give participants a reasonable timeframe for the ending of the meeting. People do not like to be held hostage.
Maintain a purpose
Finally, think about why you are holding meetings in the first place. While meetings can be very valuable tools, they can also be abused. Too many meetings can hinder productivity, cause stress, and resentments due to disrupted workflow. If the objective of your meeting is simply to deliver status updates, or address mundane topics that are addressed every week, it is possible that are contributing to a culture of meeting fatigue. You don’t just need bodies in a room or participating via a Wi-Fi connection from a distance, you need to have engaged and attributing participants. If three quarters of your roster is either daydreaming, playing candy crush, or even sleeping, it cannot be said successful and productive meeting.
We have all been called into a room by someone we wish would never call another meeting again. If you’ve ever experienced a meeting that was about as much fun as a root canal, you probably remember why it was so troublesome in the first place: the worst meetings are unproductive, and too many meetings can lead to a work environment feeling aimless or toxic. By limiting the number of people with the authority to call meetings and the number of meetings per week, meetings can instead be made into the effective use of time, energy and resources that they should be. While video conferencing is an excellent tool to be used where email, teleconferencing, and other approaches fail, it too has the capacity to be abused. Creating a healthy meeting culture ensures that all voices are heard, and that actions are taken. You might even find that people look forward to hearing the words, “We’re calling a meeting.”