June 15, 2009, 1:42 PM — Help!
I will soon be leading a video conference. What can I do to ensure that the experience goes smoothly?
Coach: Peter Handal President, Chairman and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training
Always: Be prepared. It may sound obvious, but doing your homework is absolutely essential before you step in front of the cameras. Unlike an audio conference call, participants in a video conference don't have the option to hide by hitting "mute" and only chiming into the discussion when it is necessary. In addition, people have shown to be even more self-conscious and self-aware of their behavior when participating in video conferences as opposed to face-to-face meetings.
It behooves everyone involved to come to the "virtual" table looking professional, alert and 100 percent prepared with notes and potential talking points.
[ To read more on this topic, see Seven Quick Tips for Videoconferencing Beginners ]
Sometimes: Employ a colleague to stay off of the camera and take notes. Because participants in a video conference are visible, they need to stay more focused and engaged than if they were on an audio conference call, during which it's common for participants to multitask.
If the video conference isn't recorded, it is often helpful to have a colleague sit in for the sole purpose of documenting the meeting.
Never: Rely upon video conferences for those important meetings for which only in-person contact and interaction will do. While video conferencing is a tremendous step forward in modern technology and a great tool for staying in contact with overseas clients and colleagues, the inherent loss of eye contact can be a major detriment to a conversation and it can impede even the most compelling ideas from being relayed.
Additionally, never coordinate a video conference without first testing the equipment, as all machines are subject to errors. It is extremely frustrating (and not to mention unprofessional) if a planned conference is postponed due to an unforeseen technological hiccup.