The popularity of video conferencing is growing rapidly, as more businesses recognize the exciting potential of collaborative technology. In fact, research firm Frost & Sullivanpredicts that by 2015 one in every four online meeting will have a video conferencing component.
Clearly, video conferencing is part of the future of business, education, health care and a wide range of other segments of society. Value-added resellers can expect their video conferencing business to experience an uptick in the coming years. However, be sure to remember that many users will be new to video conferencing. It’s important that these beginners fully understand the technology—and the unique nature of video collaboration—before jumping in.
For those who are new to video conferencing collaboration, here are a few tips for beginners:
1. Do a little prep work.
Like with any unfamiliar technology, new users need some time to get accustomed to the features of video conferencing. Before actually attending a video collaboration session, explore the software and make sure you understand the basic functions. If you need help, ask a higher-up for training on the new technology. Or, head online for tips and videos.
2. Set the stage.
With video conferencing, the setting can be a make or break factor for collaboration. If you’re in charge of setting up for a meeting—or if you’re joining remotely from home—it’s important to keep harsh lighting and ambient noise in check. Close the blinds to minimize glare and uneven lighting, which can be distracting to your co-collaborators. Ensure you’re in a relatively quiet room that is as free of distractions (e.g., pets, children) as possible.
3. Communicate effectively.
Before the meeting begins, do an audio check to make sure your microphone and speakers are working. As you get started, remember to speak in your normal voice; there’s no need to be louder or talk faster than usual. Keep your face about six inches from the microphone, and resist the urge to move while speaking. This will help ensure your voice comes through smoothly. If possible, mute you microphone when you won’t be speaking for a minute or more. There’s nothing more embarrassing than realizing everyone on a call can hear you breathing.
4. Mind your (video) manners.
At the beginning of each call, introduce yourself by name and title (and, if appropriate, location). Speak clearly, and avoid moving or fidgeting a lot. (Shuffling papers can be especially distracting to your listeners.) Don’t forget the importance of connecting with the people on the call. In collaboration sessions with desktop and application sharing, sometimes it’s easy to neglect eye contact. But in video meetings, this can leave some users feeling disconnected. Be sure to occasionally break your eyes away from what you’re doing—just like in a regular meeting—to re-connect with the speaker or with your audience.
5. Stay focused.
It can be especially tempting for remote employees to multi-task while on a conference call. But keep in mind that you’re on not-so-candid camera, and that everyone can see what you’re up to. Stay engaged with each meeting by focusing on the speaker, taking notes and asking the occasional question. By fully participating, you’ll help ensure that you and the rest of your team really collaborates.
6. Dress the part.
If you’re the main speaker or presenter for a video meeting, all eyes will be on you for most of the session. Be sure to dress professionally and avoid clothing with complex patterns or very bright colors, which can result in distracting effects on the screen.
Do your customers train new users on their video conferencing system? In your experience, do beginners become comfortable with the technology quickly, or is there a bit of a learning curve?