As the cost of travel and airfare continues to skyrocket, more and more businesses have decided to take the cost effective route of utilizing communication technology as a form of conducting meetings. There are thousands of tips on conducting meetings using video conferencing online, however, the steps taken beforehand are far more crucial in successfully executing a meeting via telepresence.
1. Closed Door Policy.
Imagine, you’re in a meeting and one of the attendees answers their phone. While everyone else in the room is attempting to listen to the speaker, it’s extremely hard to engage when all you can focus on is the conversation being held on the phone. Although that behavior is an obvious “no-no” during a face-to-face meeting, telepresence etiquette suggests that leaving the door open while video conferencing is an equivalent distraction. Whether it’s a phone ringing down the hall or colleagues carrying on a conversation outside the room, if the door is open, that noise is amplified and is a distraction for everyone. Close every door so that ambient sounds don’t distract from the meeting.
2. Lights, Camera, Action!
Before your meeting goes live, make sure the room is well lit and free from any clutter. Turn all the lights on. The beauty of telepresence technology is it gives a seamless appearance that everyone is in the same room. Although, a moderately lit room may be acceptable in a face-to-face meeting, both sides should shine equally in a telepresence meeting.
While a relaxing environment is ideal for some settings, don’t confuse “laid-back” with “lax.” You client more than likely does not care to know that Larry ordered Chinese food for lunch, or that Barbara is in the process of knitting her niece a fedora. Remove all clutter from any space in view of the camera (i.e; to-go cups, unnecessary papers, colorful balls of yarn, etc.). It’s a distraction and unprofessional.
Unfortunately, there is no blooper reel for video conferencing. That’s why you must check the camera angles and test the microphones prior to the meeting. Make sure that everyone is in view, avoid excess space above the head or below the table (no feet in view), and test all of the participants’ microphones.You wouldn’t want the other side to be distracted by Cathy’s fidgety feet or Allen’s mismatching socks. And you definitely wouldn’t want the far site to be spooked by a U.P.V. (unidentified phantom voice) coming from Carol, who is very much a part of the meeting, just slightly out of shot.
3. Which One of You is Bob?
In a face-to-face environment, everyone would introduce themselves prior to starting a meeting. This should be the same when it comes to conducting a meeting via telepresence. Introductions provide a more relaxed setting and can prevent unnecessary confusion. Some attendees may have spent countless hours corresponding with each other through emails or phone calls, but putting a face to a name alleviates some tension by allowing everyone to rest assured that they are in fact, addressing Bob. Ensure everyone is properly introduced before getting started.