In the book The Virtual Executive, author Debra Benton tells a cautionary tale of videoconferencing: A bank executive joined in on a video call with his team, and forgot he was live on camera. He proceeded to pick up the newspaper and start reading while occasionally picking his nose. One of the other conference participants had to phone the executive's assistant to have her alert him that everyone was watching.
So while videoconferencing is an excellent substitute for in-person interactions, it demands more preparation and planning. Anything you do on video will get more scrutiny. Also video has the potential to spread beyond the event, either internally or on the Web. When you make a mistake in person, it happens only once; but on video you get to re-live it over and over.
Benton polled hundreds of people on the topic of videoconferencing faux pas, and collected a list of the 20 most prevalent and peevish videoconference no-no's. According to Benton, people hate it when you:
Don't acknowledge the people on the other side of the monitor
Check your smartphone constantly
Don't speak up
Join in late
Don't set up your call in advance, thus spending the first 10 minutes of the call doing tech support
Invite too many people on the call
Talk too loud
Aren't aware of your body language
Have a distracting background
Multitask in clear view
Don't mute when appropriate
Move excessively in an out of view
Ignore time delays and talk all over each other
Are obviously having private side conversations
Shuffle papers noisily
Use too much hand gesturing, especially finger pointing
Eat or drink while on the call
Benton also says that people get really irritated when you make statements like, "I know you probably can't see this…" but then go on to refer to an image without explaining and giving details along with the main point you're making.
"Remember," Benton says, "Every bit of effort you expend should work to make others feel like you are together in the same room or space: communicating, resolving, caring, and coming together."
The good news is that video lets you learn efficiently. "It's the ultimate self-learning tool," Benton says. "You can play it back…you'll see how you come across and what you should, or could, have done better. The you are prepared to go live in real time with others."
What is your video-calling pet peeve?
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