Thanks to unified communications technology, remote workers and employees at disparate offices can now collaborate and engage with one another just as effectively as personnel who see each other every day. Video conferencing has played a major role in creating this state of affairs. When used effectively, video conferencing tools can improve employee communication, teamwork, productivity and morale.
However, optimizing the impact of video conferencing requires significant attention to detail, as Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Bryan Lovgren recently highlighted.
Sweat the small stuff
Lovgren explained that there are many relatively small factors that, if ignored, can seriously undermine the effectiveness of video conferences. Managers and other leaders need to ensure that every employee is on the same page and aware of best practices.
Take, for example, the simple issue of visibility. Obviously, video conferencing depends upon every participant being readily visible to other participants, as this is what makes the channel more engaging and personal than mere voice. That is why Lovgren emphasized the importance of paying close attention to camera positioning and room lighting. A poorly angled camera may cut off part of the employee's face on others' screens or distract with its odd effect. And while a lack of light will have a gloomy effect, harsh artificial lighting may be blinding, or at least unpleasant.
Attention to detail is also essential to ensure that the audio component of video conferencing delivers positive results. Lovgren recommended that participants test their microphones prior to the virtual meeting, ideally by initiating a brief video conference with a colleague. Once the meeting is up and running, attendees should mute their microphones when not speaking to avoid causing interference. Of course, this means that individuals need to be careful to unmute before speaking next.
While many of the recommendations may seem like straightforward common sense, it is easy for employees to forget about such best practices when they first begin using video conferencing tools. This can result in awkward, time-wasting internal meetings as staff members struggle to correct their camera and microphone use. Worse, such mishaps will hurt client and customer relationships.
That is why training and education sessions should be part of any company's initial video conferencing deployment. Memos and lists of best practices are helpful, but more direct, hands-on experience is necessary before employees can fully take advantage of these invaluable resources.