Beyond the camera: Getting the human side of video conferencing right
Video conferencing (VC) has come of age. Thanks to advances in software and hardware, we now have high-definition (HD) visuals, great audio quality and simple plug-and-play interfaces that make communicating and collaborating with colleagues easy, no matter where they are.
VC technology can create an experience that’s richer and more complete than any phone call can hope to be. But to take full advantage, organizations must look beyond the tech and develop a staff culture where VC is understood as a helpful business tool.
For all its ease of use, the reality is there’s more to communicating effectively over VC than simply being in the camera’s field of view. It’s helpful for users to have some understanding of the technology, and also be aware of their body language, eye contact and other social signals if they want to make the best of this collaborative environment.
Making the most of the technology
VC systems must be set up properly to deliver optimal results, and they depend on your organization’s technology infrastructure – in particular, its internet speed and quality.
You’ll need to make sure your network can handle video streams. Most solutions offer different levels of quality to account for varying connection speeds. Using a wired – as opposed to wireless – connection can help here as it’s less prone to signal strength and speed fluctuations.
Getting the human side of video conferencing right
But there is so much more to getting the VC experience right than just choosing a platform and hooking it up. Your on-site team and all remote participants need to be comfortable with the technology. Ideally, VC should be integrated into your operations, and your team should view it as just another tool, like email or a messaging client.
You might also find some participants are reluctant to appear on camera. Even if you and your team are entirely comfortable with appearing (and being recorded) on-screen, it’s worth checking that your remote colleagues, clients and other call participants are too. They may not be familiar with the tools, and of course, it’s always worthwhile to have a technical ‘dry run’ before the main event to ensure everything goes off seamlessly.
Video conferencing etiquette
Everyone on a VC call should be across the appropriate etiquette. It is a different experience to a face-to-face meeting, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore social niceties like having someone chair the meeting and introducing all participants. Creating some basic guidelines for your meeting, like raising your hand to ask a question or when you need to contribute, could be worthwhile.
There is much more to video conferencing than getting the tech right. Ideally, the technology should be integrated into your operations and everyone using it should be across video conferencing best practices. Only then can you hope to reap the rewards of the technology and benefit from the collaboration it can help facilitate.