Virtual web conferencing technologies have been around for quite some time, but the current pandemic and the need for a large part of the population to work remotely has brought widespread adoption of these tools.
Many of us are now using Zoom, Skype, and a number of other similar platforms on a daily basis, sometimes even several times a day for both professional and personal use. While working remotely, we are using these tools for virtual meetings, video conferences, webinars, live streaming and more.
Video conferencing allows anyone with a camera-enabled computer or smartphone device to connect easily and conveniently with colleagues, but that doesn’t mean technology wants to cooperate all the time. A few things to keep in mind when joining a video conference as a participant, and especially as the host are:
- Check your internet connection, particularly on a smartphone or tablet device. It’s recommended to be connected to the internet via WiFi and not your cellular network.
- Download and install the appropriate app. Most of the video conferencing technologies work best when used with their respective applications.
- If you’re the host, consider setting and distributing a password for the meeting to keep unwanted guests from joining.
- Check your camera and microphone on your desktop or laptop computer, and on your smartphone or tablet devices. In most cases, you’ll have to turn on video and/or audio when joining a meeting, but it’s a good idea to ensure that both your camera and microphone are working properly beforehand. For some, using a headset with microphone is recommended.
Once you turn on the camera during a video conference, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Dress appropriately. Yes, many of us are joining these calls when working from home, but a professional appearance is still expected.
- Sit up and look into the camera, not the screen. Try to keep your shoulders and head in view of the camera.
- Keep lighting in front of you, if possible. This will allow others to see you properly. Also backlighting creates a silhouetted appearance.
- Make sure your surroundings are neat and tidy, and clear of distractions. The use of virtual backgrounds has become a common practice.
- Close unnecessary tabs or windows on your computer and set your smartphone on silent.
- If you’re not speaking, it is best to keep your microphone muted. When not on mute, avoid typing or using the keyboard.
Just like in-person meetings, there are certain best practices that make a video conference more efficient and effective.
- Prepare or read the agenda, if provided, and come prepared.
- Allow for introductions, especially if meeting for the first time.
- Don’t interrupt other people when they’re speaking (or attempt to speak over them).
- Avoid working on other tasks such as responding to email.
- Practice common courtesy.
Follow the suggestions above and you will be well on your way to a successful video conference.
Javier De Jesus
Senior Manager, Web and Digital Initiatives
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
PAMN Steering Committee member