Manners Matter: Videoconferencing Etiquette Tips

Tue, 2013-04-09 14:51 -- nitrous

As videoconferencing becomes increasingly integrated within daily communication, it becomes apparent that there is a need for established etiquette guidelines in order to create a more productive and enjoyable experience for all users. While there are numerous reasons for your company to implement videoconferencing solutions, often these advantages are not put to use because of little or no introduction on the technology and how to use it properly.

In a 1997 study of Swedish companies, four key factors were identified that affect the successful integration of video conferencing:

-Upper management embracing the new technology
-Providing a familiar and comfortable atmosphere for video conferencing
-Familiarity with the equipment
-At least one adopter who can motivate colleagues to learn about and use video conferencing

Without management properly communicating their expectations regarding the adoption of video conferencing, employees will likely shy away from integrating this invaluable tool into their daily communications at work. In an effort to keep your videoconferencing solution from gathering dust, make sure all employees are properly trained on how to use the technology.  

To ensure company-wide integration of video conferencing, begin with brief tutorials during senior management meetings on how to use the technology. After a few sessions, senior managers will become comfortable enough with using the technology and will encourage their teams to learn about and adopt video conferencing, resulting in a top down cascade of social and technical understanding.

Here is a brief list of guidelines from the Emily Post Institute to help you achieve the successful adoption of videoconferencing in your organization:

- Be Prepared & Understand the Technology

Test the technology thoroughly prior to use and have a contingency plan in place. Make sure you are using a tool that is intuitive and easy to use, as your competence and confidence (or lack thereof) with the technology will be recognized.

- Create an Agenda

Encourage employees to create a thorough document for all participants ahead of time that outlines what they should expect and who will be present on the video conference. Set clear objectives regarding what will be accomplished in the session and proactively communicate these to participants. Clarifying questions can include: Who are the key groups at the meeting? Who are the key influencers in each group? What would you like them to think/feel/do after the meeting?

- Appearance Counts

Remind participants that they should dress as they would for an in person meeting. In order to make a positive impression in an online meeting, be sure to position yourself strongly and look, act and sound professional.

- Professional Conduct

Begin and end the video conference on time, introduce everyone present, speak clearly and loudly, and be sure to make eye contact with the camera and other participants in your room. Address a participant by their name to direct a specific question towards them and never speak out of turn or interrupt. Avoid making excessive background noise and turn all electronic devices to silent. Lastly, do not leave the room unless absolutely necessary.