There’s no doubt about it, video conferencing is big, and it’s only going to get bigger. For good reason, of course; video communication helps people save big on travel expenses, communicate more easily, and even helps the environment by reducing one’s carbon footprint. As a result, a new business etiquette is forming based around videoconferencing, as well as a new environment.
When you have a video conference, how do you look? As video is replacing phone conversations for those who are located far apart, one takes the same cares for appearance as they would face-to-face. Clean shaven, a nice suit, and so on. One must look presentable, at least as far as the other people in the conference can see; while it is possible to go through an entire video conference without wearing pants, it is not advised, even if the others are none the wiser. (This is especially true if you work in an office.)
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Unlike phone calls or e-mail, body language plays an important role in videoconferences. As people on the other end can see each other, everyone should essentially treat it the same as though they were face-to-face. This even goes for eye contact. Yes, it can be made over video calls. Make sure the camera and screen are positioned near the same place, so you can look directly at whoever’s speaking and have it look like you are. For example, when I use Skype (News - Alert), it opens on the left hand side of my screen. If I don’t reposition it underneath my computer’s camera, I’ll spend the entire chat looking like I’m glancing off to the side.
There is still no one perfect video solution for everyone, so you may find yourself having to work out which chat program to use. Fortunately, there are many cloud-based video solutions that can send a link to any attendee’s device, connecting them to the same chat room as the host over the Internet. If that isn’t the case, though, a good rule of thumb is “don’t make the other guy pay for something new.”
With videoconferencing, people can communicate face-to-face across great distances. That’s exactly what it is: face-to-face, so be sure to treat it as such. Body language, eye contact and appearance all play the same role over video as they do in person. There are many benefits one can get from videoconferencing, and people and businesses everywhere are realizing this, so it’s important to reach a level of understanding about the protocols and etiquette for video chats.
Edited by Brooke Neuman