T-shirts and background noises, microphones and moderators: what to do and not to do during a video call in 10 rules

It’s easy to say videocall. In reality the question is less obvious than one might think.

And no, it’s not just a question of the quality of the microphones, earphones, webcams. From the background to the invitation, from the frame to the speech, the discussion is much broader. In short, online yes, but with style. So thinks Carlo Alberto Tenchini, marketing and communication director of Sharp Italia, who has drawn up the vademecum of the perfect videoconference. On the other hand, today we communicate online with the work group, define projects, keep contacts with customers, suppliers and partners alive. Every day we are in contact with a “new normal” of business meetings that necessarily imposes rules of conduct that are shared as much as possible. A sort of etiquette to make video calls clear, effective and, therefore, performing.

1: appoint a moderator

Video conferencing works like regular meetings – without a moderator, there is a risk that the meeting will not be handled properly. All the more reason, in the absence of physical presence, this element must be a priority. It is therefore advisable to agree before the videoconference who will be leading the work session.

2: define a specific goal

All meetings must have a purpose. If it is just a matter of meeting colleagues for a short online chat, it would be better to name the meeting appropriately, such as “coffee break” and not “business meeting”. Otherwise you risk communicating something wrong.

3: turn off the microphone

We are all used to hearing strange background noises coming from call participants: radios, children, construction noises, dishwashers or the clicking of fingers on the keyboard. To conduct the videoconference as smoothly as possible, when you do not need to intervene, it is best to turn off the microphone, in order to minimize interference and distractions.

4: do not speak at the same time as others

In a traditional meeting it is much easier for people to talk at the same time, but all of this is very annoying during a video conference. Ideally, it would be better to coordinate on the sequence of interventions or have the moderator decide the order. Some tools offer participants the possibility to virtually raise their hand, the moderator will take note and can manage the interventions. For larger groups, it may also be useful for participants to write their question in chat to book the intervention.

5: specific times for interventions

There are people who love to chat, but they can be nerve-wracking at times. If the moderator wishes to receive the opinion of each participant in the meeting, he can set a time limit for each intervention in order to guarantee the floor to all participants.

In online meetings, there is often an audio delay between the microphone and the transmitted sound, which can take a few seconds longer. When you ask a question, give the group enough time to answer. Better not to answer immediately after each sentence, as other questions may follow.

The advantage of online platforms like GoToMeeting, Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, Team Viewer etc. is that you can see your interlocutors. Ask the participants to activate the video camera during the videoconference, so as to increase the awareness and seriousness of the meeting. Obviously, it is necessary to activate it in an “intelligent” way: possibly symmetrical shots and not from bottom to top, backgrounds appropriate to the context or in any case neutral.

8: invite the right people

Since there is no need for travel and travel with videoconferencing, there is often a tendency to send the invitation to a higher number of people than necessary. Before inviting participants, it is best to define the goal of the videoconference. How many times during a virtual meeting have you asked yourself: “what am I doing here?”, But then please, you stayed connected until the end of the meeting. Only invite attendees who really need to be there, as if it were an in-person meeting.

9: use more images and less text

When giving a presentation, remember that many attendees connect with a laptop and their screen is small. Avoid PPT sheets with a lot of text, better work with images. In video conferencing you can convey emotions, especially with speeches and images, and avoid boring presentations.

10: the dress makes the monk

Last but not least: use the same precautions in videocall that you would use for a face-to-face meeting. Would you ever introduce yourself to colleagues and bosses in pajamas or with a turban covering freshly washed hair? Here, use the same caution even if you connect remotely. Or, at least, make sure that if you really can’t give up the pajama pants over the white shirt and blue tie, at least it doesn’t show.

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