While video calls have existed for many years, we all became intimately familiar with them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, video calls are an integral element of everyday business communication. Video calls facilitate working from home, connecting to field offices and meeting with distant clients face-to-face.
Just like in-person meetings, video calls have their challenges. Meeting hosts must prepare and prevent distractions to impact and influence attendees effectively.
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Many employees have transitioned to long-term work-from-home arrangements. Today’s businesses often offer remote work options as a flexible benefit. Remote meetings are a natural outcome of remote work, making video conference calls necessary for smooth operations.
Consider the following 10 tips and best practices to ensure your video conference calls run efficiently and effectively.
Nothing creates panic in a video conferencing host like a software update that downloads as a meeting begins. To avoid this issue, launch the software and check for updates hours before the call. This will provide ample time for updates to download without impacting your online meeting.
Reboot your computer and relaunch the software to ensure everything is set up correctly. If any dashboard changes were made in the update, this extra time allows you to do a brief overview and be prepared to host an efficient call better.
Whether you are an experienced conference host or not, technical difficulties happen. Avoid unpredictable challenges by testing your equipment ahead of time. Ensure your microphone and video camera work effectively. Join the meeting early to ensure your connection is stable and that sound and video aren’t lagging.
If you’re hosting the conference, arriving early will also help guarantee you’re the first to join, allowing you to welcome participants as they join.
Many video conferencing platforms exist; not everyone will be familiar with them. Assume your audience knows nothing about the platform. After opening your call, briefly familiarize your audience with the location of tools, such as mute, chat and any group conversation boards.
With exceptionally large audiences, establish ground rules for participants. Invite people to ask questions by posting to the group board or messaging you directly. Use the host tools to auto-mute participants until it’s time for questions and comments. This will help reduce unnecessary noise and distractions for other participants.
If you’re hosting a large virtual meeting with many attendees, consider bringing on a producer. A producer can be a co-worker or a professional. Producers can do the following:
Producers are a great way to allow the host to focus on the message.
Pauses are necessary for effective conversation. They help listeners connect to what is said and allow the speaker to deliver a point with impact. However, excess dead air is awkward and amateur. Here are some tips for avoiding dead air:
Your video conferences should have an unofficial dress code to ensure professionalism. Inappropriate or distracting clothing can be disruptive. If you’re the host, remember that participants can only see you from the chest up, so avoiding loud patterns and colors is essential. Too many accessories can also detract from your message, such as too much jewelry and bulky scarves.
The great thing about video calls is that you can join from anywhere, anytime. The problem is that attendees often don’t pay adequate attention to their surroundings before starting their videos.
Before you begin:
You don’t have to be a movie star to know your most flattering angles. Place your camera in a position that allows your head to remain in a neutral position. This provides a flattering angle for your face while eliminating distractions caused by poor camera placement. No one wants to look up at your nose, ceiling fan or the top of your head.
Consider your video conference as you would like a face-to-face conversation. Make eye contact at eye level to ensure the best connection and always utilize proper lighting.
You may not always participate in or conduct a video conference call from an office. You may be at home, a local coffee shop or in a central community area. Finding a quiet place to host and attend video meetings is always best.
Regarding background noise, keep the following in mind:
Knowing what information you want to communicate and receive from attendees ahead of time will keep your video call on schedule and on topic. Write out an agenda and ensure you move through it during the call. It’s also a good idea to review the agenda with the participants at the beginning of the call so they know what to expect and what topics should be discussed offline.
Video conferences bring many benefits to businesses, including the following:
Ensure your video conferencing setup includes business accommodations for hosts and attendees. For example, communication-related accommodations can include note-taking and services that provide real-time text.
The best business phone systems can help you get the most out of your video conferences. Here are some of our top choices for your video conferencing needs:
Video calls are an excellent resource for professionals worldwide. They can offer face-to-face solutions when travel is too difficult, costly or too frequent. Knowing how to host an efficient video conference call is critical. The next time you’re tempted to schedule a conference call over the phone, consider using video instead.
Stacey Hanke contributed to this article.