Video conferencing done right

Today's business marketplace is increasingly global. Computer technology and the Internet have opened the doors for business to be conducted across state lines and over oceans. Staff can work remotely and still stay connected to their home offices, allowing for more business travel and convenient work-from-home options. 

Work that's done exclusively through email or even over the phone lacks an important personal touch, however. Face-to-face interactions are important for many collaborative efforts or for communicating more clearly with other people. Nuances like body language and tone can be lost in digital correspondences that could potentially misconstrue the intended message.

Fortunately, video conferencing equipment can help personalize these long-distance partnerships. It allows for more face-time between business contacts without racking up travel costs. There are still differences between video conferences and traditional meetings. The key to making a video call more effective is following the understood etiquette rules that come with this kind of technology.

"Microphones should be muted unless the person is speaking."

Technical etiquette for video calls
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they try to run a video conference is waiting until the meeting start time to test their equipment for the first time. If there are any problems with the connection, this can lead to serious delays, which is just as frustrating in virtual meetings as it is in person. 

To avoid this faux pas, the meeting host should set up the online conference space at least 15 minutes before the meeting actually starts. Network World reported that users should also familiarize themselves with some of the basic tech support needs of their programs. If anything goes wrong during the meeting, being able to quickly find the solution prevents wasted time and makes the host look like an excellent problem-solver. 

Users should also be considerate with their microphones and cameras. Entrepreneur stated that microphones should be muted unless the person is speaking to prevent disruptive background noise. Even the sound of striking the keyboard to type up notes can translate to distracting sounds on the other end of the call. Users should be careful about their camera placement as well –  poor lighting, awkward angles or movement in the background can also be distracting to the rest of the meeting room. The camera should be tested during the initial tech set up to ensure it provides the look the user wants.

Video conference attendees should dress for business and stay engaged. Video conference attendees should dress for business and stay engaged.

Business etiquette for video calls
Some people will make the mistake of not taking a video conference as seriously as a traditional meeting. The fact of the matter is that the same standards for business etiquette apply in virtual or face-to-face conversations, according to The Wall Street Journal. That means taking the time at the start of the call to do introductions, curbing side conversation and staying focused on whoever is speaking at the time. 

People should also still dress for the meeting at hand. If employees are working from home but video conferencing in to a formal meeting, they should still dress as they would if they were heading into the office that day. Wearing business dress from the waist up with pajama bottoms is a risky chance to take – if the person has to move at any point during the meeting, the mismatched outfit could be seen. 

It's also important for people to avoid the temptation to multitask during these meetings. Attendees should sit attentively, listen to the conversations and prepare to contribute where appropriate. Remember that talking over someone else is just is rude online as it is in person. When it is their turn to speak, they should look directly into the camera to create a sense of eye contact and connections with the rest of the group in the meeting. 

By treating video calls with the same respect as a traditional business gathering, users can leave a positive impression and conduct more personalized business.

IT and tech industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.