TORONTO – BUSINESS – If you’re new to video conferencing, you probably aren’t quite sure about the requirements. Just because you’ve signed on with a great service like Blue Jeans doesn’t mean you automatically know the ropes, either—while most services designed for small to mid-size businesses are more than willing to help you learn the ins and outs of their platform, it’s still up to you to learn what you can on your own time.
There are a lot of “unspoken rules” to video conferencing, so here’s a list of what you need to do—or not do—if you want to fully utilize video conferencing in a functional and professional manner.
Do Get Familiar with the Platform
The most important thing you can do with any video conferencing platform is to take the time necessary to discover all it offers. You’ll want to do a few “test” conferences with a colleague, close subordinate or supervisor to make sure you understand how to set up a meeting, connect, and disconnect at the very least. Once you’re comfortable with basic functions, you’ll want to get more familiar with the other features your system is supposed to offer.
Here are some of the most important options you can find in a video conference system:
- Scheduling an attendance: find out how many people can attend a digital meeting before you schedule it, and look for a system that automatically reminds attendees when the meeting time begins to loom closer
- File sharing: make sure that your colleagues are all prepared to receive files as needed throughout the course of the meeting
- Presentation: according to Corporate Tech Decisions, being able to share your screen and go through digital presentations is possibly the most important feature a video conferencing system can have
If you haven’t been online with meetings and business long enough to figure out how the platform works, make sure you get started before your first big virtual meeting.
Don’t Settle for the Cheapest Option
While it’s always tempting to go cheap or go home, when it comes to video conferencing systems that may not be the best choice for your business. Many free and cheap platforms tend to have more downtime, fewer must-have features, and poorer reception than slightly more costly options. It’s possible to find the best of both worlds, but you should always do your research before buying.
Do Keep the Surrounding Workspace Clean
Once you have a platform chosen and figured out, it’s time to make sure your meetings go off without a hitch; according to Entrepreneur.com, maintaining a clean workspace is key to holding and attending a professional meeting. Any decorations and wall-hangings should also be work-friendly to avoid distracting other attendees, or putting them off entirely.
Don’t Use a Cheap Camera
Just because your laptop may have a camera built in doesn’t mean that’s the best choice of video devices for your meeting. Even a $20 webcam can increase visibility and clarity tenfold, while a slightly pricier option can also auto-focus, maintain good lighting and automatically work out colour balance in order to counteract the jaundiced look created by most indoor lighting. You want everyone to be able to see and hear you clearly, so a camera with a built-in microphone may also be a good option for putting on a professional video conference.
Do Use it Often
Use the technology once you have it! Too often small and mid-sized businesses pay for systems like this and then almost never utilize them—don’t fall into this trap. Make your weekly meeting remote, take advantage of being able to easily maintain contact with colleagues and clients from anywhere in the world, and stay up to date on the services and functions offered by your system. Nobody wants to go six months between meetings only to discover the entire interface has gone through an overhaul, leaving you scrambling to access basic functions.
Don’t Come Unprepared
Just because virtual meetings and video conferences may be carried out from the comfort of your home doesn’t make them any less formal or professional than an onsite meeting, and that means you need to be prepared well in advance. Send out digital meeting packets at least an hour before the meeting is scheduled to start, make sure everyone gets reminders 24 hours in advance, and then again at the same time as they receive any documentation for the meeting. Inc also recommends making sure your attendees are properly prepared by offering a list of etiquette guidelines to help them follow these and other do’s and don’ts.
Always Use Common Sense
Less a guideline and more a general rule, above all make sure that you’re using common sense in your video conferences. Make sure your lighting and microphone are both decent before you start a conference, and always double check that your colleagues can all hear, see and communicate with you. Start off every conference with a quick sound off from everyone in attendance, and be willing to work around glitches.
As long as you’re being sensible with your use of this still fairly new technology, you should be more than understandable to your colleagues and clients. If your platform isn’t facilitating open communication, make sure you’re following these rules of thumb and that you’ve chosen a service that works for your business. At the end of the day, that’s what video conferencing is for: maintaining clear communication, even over great distances. Don’t miss out on all this technology has to offer because you neglect a simple rule of thumb.