Best Practices for Video Conferencing

Best Practices

Video conferencing continues to gain currency as organizations are forced to constantly wring more efficiencies out of smaller and geographically distributed staffs. Conferencing in general is an effective alternative to travel because it eliminates cost and time lost in transit. Video conferencing provides some benefits that other types of conferencing (audio and web) do not, particularly the added intimacy and sense of expression that comes from the participants actually seeing each other onscreen.

Video conferences are an extremely effective form of communication when they are conducted well. Conversely, they can be an unintelligible mess of distraction and garbled communication if best practices are not followed. There are several forms of video conferencing available in the marketplace today including handheld and desktop device based methods as well as room-based video conferencing. The best practices below are intended for room-based video conferencing although many of them apply to the other forms as well.

Best practices are as follows:

  • Test conference connections in advance
    If at all possible schedule a time in advance of the meeting to actually connect to the other meeting endpoints and work out any issues you may encounter. There's nothing worse than having conference rooms full of irate executives waiting while a tech person frantically tries to troubleshoot. This type of problem reflects extremely poorly on the meeting host.
  • Use proper lighting
    Video conference participants who are backlit by windows are extremely hard for participants at other sites to see. Make sure curtains are closed and cameras are pointed away from windows if at all possible.
  • Eliminate background noise
    Make sure extraneous noises within and near the conference room are minimized or eliminated. Since microphones are often mounted on the conference table, typing and excess paper shuffling can be distracting too and need to be minimized.
  • One conversation at a time
    This is important with any meeting but particularly so with a video conference. Side conversations can be incredibly distracting and disruptive to a conference and of course cell phones should be muted prior to the start of the conference.
  • Label each site
    A tent card or sign that clearly identifies each site on the conference is helpful if more than two sites are participating on that particular day.
  • Distribute written materials in advance
    If written presentation materials are to be referenced during the conference please make sure they have been distributed to all sites in advance for duplication and delivery to the conference room. Many people like to follow along on a hard copy as a presentation is delivered.
  • Have the moderator run the conference
    It is easy for participants at different sites to talk over each other on a video conference. Most of us have experienced two people talking over each other followed by an awkward silence where no one speaks. The moderator should recognize each person who wishes to speak and formally give them the floor. Questions/comments can be recognized in the order in which they are submitted via chat/instant message or simply by participants raising their hands and being recognized in the order in which they did so. An orderly process where everyone gets an opportunity to speak and has the entire conference's attention when they do is critical to a successful conference.
  • Solicit input from all participants
    Some participants may not have experienced a video conference before and therefore may be nervous about speaking up for fear of encountering a technical issue of some kind. Since communication and collaboration are the goals of the conference it is important for the moderator to elicit input from all participants or at least give them the opportunity to provide input.

If you are interested in learning more about Video Conferencing services and best practices, please contact Two Rivers Conferencing.

May 1, 2014 | Categories: , , | Tags: handheld, moderator, room-based, video conferences, video conferencing


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