Remote workers and entire teams working from home are nothing new. Still, in extraordinary circumstances such as natural disasters or pandemics, many thousands of workers can instantly be displaced from normal office settings, coworkers, and managers.
Video conferencing can be an invaluable tool in keeping remote teams working efficiently while displaced. If you are new to working from home, these tips will make your video conferencing sessions more productive, successful, and even fun.
Video conferencing best practices
Whether you’re a presenter, a member of a small team or one of many participants, taking the right approach and adhering to video conferencing etiquette, best practices can help the meeting achieve the intended agenda.
1. Equipment – audio
Your most likely resource for a video conference will include a laptop computer or a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. Keep in mind that the microphones on those devices typically pick up audio from the general vicinity of the mic. That means background noise is easily heard and provided to all participants.
A best practice is to utilize a headset with a built-in mic, which is focused directly in front of your mouth—often with noise-reduction functionality—to limit surrounding sounds like barking dogs and unhappy children.
Presenters: during a presentation where no feedback or comments are desired, mute all attendees to avoid unexpected disruptions. You can always unmute if someone raises their hand or sends an instant message question that you want to respond to immediately. Otherwise, unmute everyone when it is time for questions or feedback.
2. Video appearance
When appearing on a video conference, home workers should exhibit a professional appearance – you never know who may be watching. When speaking, either look directly at the camera or just slightly to the side to provide the best image. Utilize front lighting, not backlighting, as this can make it difficult to see your face and expressions. Preferably utilize natural/window light, or a lamp positioned that pleasantly illuminates you.
Your background can be purposeful, as well. If you don’t want to display your home office or actual location, video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams allow you to blur the background or select from a variety of provided backgrounds. Features are also coming that will enable you to utilize custom backgrounds.
No matter what you choose, be sure the background selected is appropriate for the audience.
3. Set an agenda
When meeting with your remote work team or coworkers, provide a plan before the video conference. Just as with an in-person conference room meeting, video meetings can be most productive when everyone knows the business purpose of the session, to keep focused on the outcome. This forethought also allows for preparation and valuable feedback.
4. Meet regularly
Remote workers who are unacclimated to this new way of working can have a feeling of being out of touch with the team and managers. Feeling isolated can harbor lost productivity. While you can’t stop by employees’ desks to check in with a work-from-home team, video connection can be a close substitute.
Setting up regular status video conferences to touch base with everyone goes a long way toward providing open communications and a feeling of normalcy. Video is more efficient than traditional conference calls by utilizing face-to-face contact for maintaining interpersonal team relationships.
You may not be able to schedule video conferences that everyone can attend every time. Fortunately, services incorporate the technology to allow the recording of meetings, with several benefits:
- Remote workers who cannot participate can review the conference at their convenience
- All participants can go back to the meeting to revisit key points and review comments
- Conference content can be provided to additional parties or teams if necessary
A significant benefit of video conferencing is its availability practically anytime, anywhere, and with nearly any device—from home desktop computers to mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets.
Easy accessibility can be great for communication, but also opens up risks for business. You should always utilize cyber security best practices when presenting and attending video conferences:
- Home WiFi networks should be protected by using VPN software to encrypt traffic and avoid eavesdropping by unauthorized parties.
- Keep application and OS software updated to ensure any security patching is applied
- Change router passwords from manufacturer defaults to secure passwords that are secure from cyber thieves who may be listening in on wireless networks
- Computers or mobile devices should incorporate antivirus and malware detection to avoid compromising communications or presentation content
Make the best of video conferencing presentations
Video conferencing is a highly useful tool for communicating with remote work teams. Choosing the right equipment and software tools will enhance the experience and productivity achieved with the technology.
Microsoft provides effective video communications technology through the Microsoft Teams application. Microsoft Teams is a valuable tool for large and small businesses, academic institutions, and all industries.