Doing business abroad is a goal for almost every company. The chance to upsize and broaden your market on an international level can massively increase profits, giving your business the chance to grow as big as you can imagine. However, this also requires establishing your business in another country, which can be time-consuming and requires frequent meetings. You may not be able to afford the constant trips around the world in order to do this, which is where video conferencing offers an extremely beneficial solution.
At the start of 2020, video conferencing apps saw a download increase of 90%, in part as a result of the lockdown measures taken to counter the outbreak of coronavirus. Conference calls are more popular than ever, as businesses can continue hosting the all-important meetings without having to leave their homes or offices. But with this added technology comes a new set of rules you will need to follow to get the most out of your video conference.
Treat it like a normal business meeting
Much like a regular meeting, it’s helpful to have a clear plan of what needs to be discussed during a video conference. If there are other members of your team who will be joining the call, brief them with your own plan so they have time to prepare any questions or concerns. If you need to use an interpreter for your meeting, you should also brief them about the subject in advance so they’re prepared for the conference.
Keeping to a schedule is one of the biggest challenges faced by remote workers as it becomes far too easy to overwork yourself. You should also be punctual to your virtual conference and, if it’s an initial meeting, take the time to introduce yourself and other members of your team that may be tuning in. Keep introductions short and specific so you can go straight into the matter at hand. Following a timetable makes it easier to maintain a work-life balance, so it’s important to stay punctual for the benefit of everyone else’s schedule.
Be mindful of the technology
While you may be a pro at face-to-face meetings, virtual conferences are a little more difficult to master from the get-go. Find a nice, quiet space with good lighting, so your associates can clearly see you on camera. If you’re about to take part in your first virtual conference, take 5 minutes beforehand to ensure all of the tech works — you don’t want to get into the meeting only to notice that your camera is fuzzy, or your microphone keeps cutting out.
You should also consider how your camera frames you. You should position yourself in the centre of the frame while sitting comfortably, so spend some time in advance adjusting your laptop or computer so it sits right. To keep the focus on you, you should also try and keep your background as clear and distraction-free as possible.
Mute yourself when you aren’t speaking
Your microphone will be able to pick up any noises happening around you, including those in other rooms. So even if you are in your own room or office, there’s no guarantee that everyone else in your house or building will be quiet enough to avoid being detected on the mic. You might also find yourself making other ambient noises without realising it, such as the rustling of papers or writing as you make notes, that could be distracting for everyone else. So, unless you’re actually speaking, keep your microphone muted.
Signal when you want to talk
Video chats tend to offer some sort of lag or delay, even if only by a small second. This makes it easy for participants to talk over each other accidentally, which can get awkward in the best case scenario and come across as rude at worst. Slightly raising your hand or a similar gesture can serve as a signal to make others aware that you have something to say, so they know to pause or wrap up what they’re saying. This provides a level of structure to the meeting, while giving everyone the opportunity to speak. If you have an interpreter for your meeting, signalling also gives them a chance to keep up with who’s speaking, and who is about to talk.
Look into the camera
Try not to focus on how bad you think you look, and instead direct your gaze to your actual camera. This is the digital equivalent of looking at someone’s face as you’re speaking, so it’s a good idea to keep your focus there. This also shows everyone in the meeting that you’re involved in the conversation, which is the impression you want to give off for any meeting, virtual or otherwise.