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Videoconferencing Etiquette

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 2 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Etiquette Communication Videoconference

Videoconferencing is becoming far more common these days at work since communication technology has got ever more sophisticated and with the global nature of today’s business world. Allowing people to hold virtual meetings anywhere in the world, they enable important discussions to take place without the need for each attendee to be physically present in the same location. Nevertheless, as it is a visual medium, the same care and attention is needed as would be the case if you were attending a meeting for real and there are other points of etiquette which you should also follow.

The Role Of The Moderator

Just as in any meeting, somebody is going to have to take the role of the ‘chairperson’ – the person who will be responsible for ensuring that the videoconference runs smoothly. In videoconferencing, this person is usually referred to as the moderator. It is their job to make sure that all of the equipment has been set up prior to the start of the videoconference and that it all works. When it comes to etiquette, it is very much the moderator’s role to set the standards which are expected and with this in mind, then as well as sending each participant a copy of the agenda (including start and finish times) the moderator should also set out the rules of etiquette regarding how each participant should interact within the videoconference itself. It is also the moderator’s responsibility and good etiquette to introduce all of the speakers in the room in which the videoconference is taking place to all of the people who are watching or participating remotely.

Dress

You should dress for a videoconference as you would for a similar face to face meeting at work so that’s likely to mean business attire. The only difference being that certain patterns such as stripes and plaids for example or clothing with intricate patterns should be avoided as this type of attire responds badly to cameras. Neutral and pastel colours are best. Also remember the background you’re standing in front of. If the background’s dark, wear something lighter and vice versa otherwise it may be difficult for people to see you. Some videoconferences will also have been set up so that the people who are linking in remotely are also going to speak on camera from wherever they are in the world so as a participant, you might also need to think about clothing too. This obviously wouldn’t be a factor if you’re not going to be participating on camera.

Speech

When speaking to camera, make direct eye contact with the camera lens and speak clearly and slowly. This is a particularly important aspect of etiquette if you’re holding a videoconference with attendees who are linking in from different parts of the world where English may not be their first language so also ensure that you only use verbal terminologies which everybody will understand. Also be aware that microphones will pick up other sounds too apart from your voice so avoid things like rustling papers, for example. It’s also good etiquette for all participants to switch off their microphones when somebody else is speaking.

Body Movements

Many people get more nervous than usual when speaking in front of a camera but it’s important to stay calm, relaxed and to appear natural in front of the camera. Important messages or information you’re trying to convey can get lost if people are focusing on you fidgeting or pacing up and down and not your communication, for example.

For Participants

If you’re in a remote location from the virtual meeting room and have been asked to speak at the videoconference, make sure you follow good etiquette by identifying yourself before you begin. A good example would be:

“Good afternoon. I’m James Marsh from the Acquisitions Team based in Los Angeles. My question is….”

And, subsequently, each time you’re asked to speak, you should identify yourself.

It’s also important to remember to allow a couple of seconds between one speaker and the next as sound in particular can often be subject to time delay depending on each person’s geographical location. And, because of the nature of a videoconference, they are not conducive to interruptions or people talking over another so the general rule is ‘one person speaks at a time’. The moderator should also ensure that the videoconference doesn’t deviate from the agenda and that it starts and finishes on time.

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