If 2020 taught us anything it was how to master the art of the video call. From online classes to work from home to Zoom birthday parties, you probably consider yourself a pro at remote work. So, as we head into a second lockdown a year after we first downloaded any video conferencing apps, let’s test whether your virtual etiquette is on point. Whether you’re logging in to a class from your hostel in Madiwala or an international business meeting from your office in Hitech City, you should have these basic rules down pat. So, let’s take a look at how many of these video calling tips you’re already nailing.
Be punctual (and prepared)
You wouldn’t show up to an in-person meeting with a professor or a client late, would you? You’d probably arrive a few minutes early to avoid traffic and give yourself enough time to find the venue. The same rules apply for a video call, but instead of being stuck in jams or getting lost between conference rooms, you have to account for network fluctuations and technical errors. Log into your meeting a few minutes earlier than the scheduled time so you don’t have to waste precious moments of your call getting yourself set up. It’s also a good idea to check that your equipment – video camera, microphone and headphones – are working properly to minimise any disruptions. Don’t forget to charge your laptop beforehand (or at least have it plugged in) so there’s no chance of running out of power.
Don’t make eye contact
Make lens contact instead. When you’re having a conversation with someone, it’s only polite to look them in the eye. But the virtual space can make it a little tricky since your camera and the eye-line of your screen aren’t lined up. You can still create the effect of eye-contact by looking down the camera lens instead. This can be especially helpful when you’re trying to be convincing or trying to push an important message – like during a sales pitch, a big presentation or during a job interview.
Use the mute function judiciously
The advent of WFH has made it such that everyone is working from home. That means in one house or room, you could have multiple meetings going on at the same time. Even if that’s not the case, there’s a lot of potential for audio disruptions – your neighbour’s TV could be on, there could be some construction happening nearby, or your mic could be giving off some loud feedback. Make sure you keep yourself on mute any time you’re not actively speaking to minimise any interruptions in your video meetings. Of course, if you’re in a quiet space and need to speak regularly during the meeting, you could stay off mute but make sure you keep your phone and email notifications on silent so that they don’t disrupt or distract you.
Pauses are okay
Interrupting someone is rude enough in real life, but in the virtual world it can also be frustrating. And most interruptions in video calls are a result of trying to cover up any pauses. But remember that you’re contending with multiple people’s mute buttons and internet speeds when you’re speaking. What you think of as a pause could actually just be a lag in the connection, and you could end up cutting off your client in the middle of their question. So, don’t jump off mute without waiting a few extra seconds. A little bit of awkward silence is better than interrupting someone or causing disruption.
We’re all guilty of this at some point, but being on a video call while you check your email or scroll through Instagram is actually pretty rude. Again, you wouldn’t do this in a face to face interaction, would you? So, try to put the distractions aside and engage physically and mentally as much as possible during your virtual meetings. After all, you wouldn’t like it if all you saw were heads bent over phones when it’s your turn to speak.
Skip checking yourself out
If you want to do a quick hair or make-up check, look at the mirror in your hostel in Ejipura. Don’t keep glancing over at your own square of the video meeting. Your distraction will be evident and it might make you miss out on some important information being shared. Thankfully, most platforms have a viewing option where you can hide your own tile, so use that if you really need to.;
And there you have it – the video calling etiquette rules that you need to master. How many of these are you already in the habit of practising? How many mistakes are you guilty of making?