There are thousands of ways to take advantage of the freedom offered by virtual meetings and video conferencing. While primarily utilized by businesses to cut down on travel expenses and more, Uloop reports that schools have gotten in on the technological upgrade with new video conference based distance learning programs all over the world. There’s really no limit to the kind of connections you can make in this new world of virtual communication.
However, if you’re inexperienced with the technology, it can be a bit daunting to start. Whether you have your first distance learning class tomorrow or you’re attending your fifth virtual meeting this week, there are some simple tips and tricks you can follow not only to improve your experience, but the experience of everyone on the other end of the Internet.
1. Connect On Time
No matter your reason for attending a video conference, showing up late is the absolute worst way to get started. Being punctual doesn’t just keep you from missing out on valuable information, according to Social Barrel it’s absolutely critical to making the best first impression you possibly can. Coming in late doesn’t just leave you struggling to catch up, it can slow down the progress of the entire conference while the host, instructor or speaker takes the time to catch you up on whatever you missed.
2. Speak Clearly and Wait Your Turn
Never interrupt anyone in a digital meeting or other video conference. This isn’t just rude, there’s always a slight lag between you and the speaker, so your interruption will come through at a different instant than the one intended, often cutting speakers off mid-sentence instead of in the midst of a long explanation or statement. Again, this slows down the progress of the meeting, and it’s just plain rude. When you do speak, make sure to enunciate clearly and speak at normal speaking level–don’t shout, but don’t whisper either. Also, try not to breathe into the microphone, less because it’s rude and more because listening to you breathing is likely to make the other attendees at least a little uncomfortable.
3. Show Your Face
Make sure that, in the case of video conferencing in particular, you position your camera at a level angle and that your room is well-lit. Lighting from the side is the best option, while backlighting is the worst. If you have to move your computer or lamp to keep from shining light directly into the camera, do it. This not only makes it easier to interact with you, since other attendees will be able to see your face, but it will also help attendees with poor vision to focus if you avoid overly bright lights in your camera.
4. Get Dressed
This is a more common issue in business than in distance learning, as many students attend even on-campus classes in their pajamas, but it’s an important point nonetheless. As pointed out on Entrepreneur.com, you never know when your camera might slip, you may have to stand, or any number of other possible situations. It may be tempting to wear a professional shirt and boxers, assuming that the other attendees will only ever see you from the waist up, but this practice–while comfortable–is simply not recommended.
5. Test Your Equipment Beforehand
Many video conferencing and digital meeting services have an audio and video check that you can run prior to connecting to the meeting. If you find this option, take advantage of it and save everyone the trouble of waiting for you to get your microphone working in order to continue the meeting or class. You can also connect with a single colleague to test your equipment, thereby being completely sure it will behave even in a proper call with video, and allowing your colleague to be certain of the same. Once you’re sure everything is working, log in–even if it’s a bit early.
The Last Word
There’s plenty more to video conferencing etiquette, but these tips should make your first virtual meeting much easier than going in blind. You may have to modify how you fulfill each of these guidelines according to the system you’re using–Blue Jeans Video Conferencing, for example, allows between 25 attendees for a standard meeting, so if you’re taking part in a large meeting or class, arriving early is even more important to be sure you can participate from jump instead of waiting for the instructor or speaker to upgrade.
As long as you’re punctual, clear-spoken and respectful of your fellow attendees, your first virtual meeting should go off without a hitch. It’s not so different from meeting in person, especially with the more video-friendly virtual solutions, and the sooner you understand just how similar it is the more comfortable you’ll be.