How To Be More Professional On Video Calls
Zoom fatigue is real.
Covid-19 has impacted our schedules and way of working rather drastically. Social distancing has become top priority in the Covid-era as work, education, and socializing remain affected by the pandemic with some changes coming with vaccines, but also permanent changes to how many of us work.
Professionals are spending long hours in meeting virtually with their teams, coworkers, partners, vendors, bosses, and basically everyone else in their life. Video conferencing platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams have witnessed massively increased usage . When Covid-19 has left little option to talk and meet people in person, video calls have become the new norm for the work from home (WFH) workforce in the pandemic.
One might have thought that attending an official video call was similar to being on a video call with a friend or an in-person meeting at the office, but by now we all know the difference is striking.
Virtual meetings can be challenging. Following video call etiquettes will certainly help your career in the long run
How To Make Those Zoom Calls Count
We all want to create a good impression by effectively communicating our ideas. On the other hand, facing colleagues and senior teammates over the virtual platform remains a challenging and often awkward situation. Some of us can find it difficult to talk via video camera and speak cogently in the presence of a group, many of whom aren't paying complete attention, will never be easy. It may also look like that what someone just spoke wasn’t that engaging as it could have been through a physical meeting.
The biggest single takeaway from all this? A meeting needs an agenda, and that agenda needs to be thoughtfully constructed.
Here are some lessons I've learned through 2020 and 2021, not as someone who has mastered video call etiquette, but as someone who has struggled with it and has sought to improve.
- Have an agenda: Be prepared with clear and concise meeting plan . Similar to what is followed in physical meetings, write down important notes for the meeting on which you will speak. If you are the host of the meet, then send out detailed meeting agenda to your colleagues.
- Always keep the camera on: A virtual meeting can be between you and your team members, with senior mates or the management. Often, it can be one-on-one review meeting with your boss. Take all the virtual meetings on a serious note and keep the camera on during conversation. This ensures you are present and attentive, plus it makes the other people on the call know you giving the call all (or at least the vast majority) of your attention
- Check the tech: A video call for official purpose is as critical as attending a meeting in person. Before the meeting starts, double-check the functioning of your internet connection, close down unnecessary and CPU draining programs, and the check your audio and video. Avoid taking your tech for granted just because you use it all the time.
- Follow professional dress code: A meeting -- virtually or not -- should be attended in professional attire. You might be sitting at home in your leisure clothing, but before an official meeting begins, clean up your presentation a bit. We might all be living in creased clothing and athleisures but it's easy to throw on a hat and collared shirt before the call.
- Prepare your work environment: When a video call is planned with other team members, ensure that the home environment is free from any kind of distractions. Switch off all the background sounds. Turn off music system, kitchen gadgets that make loud sound, and the television for a quieter surrounding. If you have kids at home - inform them beforehand you will be busy in the meeting or ask your partner to babysit them for the while. Virtual backgrounds are OK, but they can be quite distracting, so a blank wall or a Zoom backdrop is preferable.
- Don't eat: With calls happening all the time, it's easy to try to sneak in a meal or snack during a call, but it's distracting to you and the other parties in the meeting. Having some drinking water on the call is expected and reasonable, but eating should be done later.
Many of these are things we've all learned over the past year, but they are worth reiterating and remembering and they continue to affect our professional lives each day.