Video conferencing technology is penetrating most organizations, whether it is high-end telepresence systems or simple, inexpensive webcams. Infonetics Research predicts that companies will spend $5 billion on video conferencing and telepresence in the next 4 years. If you are not leading video conferences now, you will be in the near future. Leading these types of meetings when working from home or on the road, can be a bit challenging. Here are a couple of tips:
- Bandwidth & video settings. At best, video can increase collaboration among team members and keeps everyone engaged. At worst, it can be a distraction due to latency (delays in the picture that make you feel like you’re watching an old movie where the person’s voice is not in synch with their lips) or packet loss (scrambled picture). Ensure you are technically enabled to run a video conference and always test your equipment before starting.
- Camera angle. There’s nothing like looking at the top of someone’s head or looking up their nose for 60 minutes. This is particularly problematic if you are relying on the webcam embedded in your laptop. The screen angle may be comfortable for you to view content but it may cause the webcam to be off. Again, check the picture before transmitting.
- Lighting. I’ve been in video conferences with participants that appeared to be in a closet and others that had their back up against an open window on a sunny day. Neither is a conducive to a good meeting. Adjust your lighting as necessary or as possible to ensure other participants can clearly see you.
- Background. The resolution in even the most inexpensive webcams is getting better and better. This means participants can clearly see what’s on the wall of shelf behind you. Keep it professional and remove objects that may be distracting.
- Clothing & appearance. On a conference call from home you can get away with whatever attire is comfortable, even if you are just rolling out of bed. Video conferencing forces you to be a bit more professional. Ensure you present yourself as how you want to be perceived.
- Contingency plans. Anticipate the common problems bound to occur from time to time. What happens when others can’t see you? If you don’t have access to an IT help desk, think through how things may go wrong and what you will do to work around it.
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