Summary: The best video conferencing equipment in the world can’t make you and your business look good if your people don’t use the setup to their advantage. These eight video conferencing tips can help you look good.

Even the best video conferencing equipment on the market doesn’t solve all your communication problems. Some issues are caused by the actions of the participants and have more to do with inexperience, bad manners and lack of consideration than with the quality of the mics, monitors and connections.

To make your long distance video communication events go smoothly, keep the following eight things in mind:

  1. Set up rules for participation in advance. Will everyone speak freely or will only one or two people do the bulk of the talking? While you can’t be sure the people on the other end will speak in an organised and orderly fashion, you should do everything possible to make sure you maintain a disciplined approach on your end.
  2. Do a practice run to make sure everyone understands how things work. While modern video conferencing equipment is intuitive and easy to use, letting people who are unfamiliar with its operation practice a bit is a very good idea. Set up a chat with another branch office or a trusted colleague who will tell you honestly if you and you staff are coming across well.
  3. Be aware of the cameras but not preoccupied by them. Think of how experienced news reporters interact with the camera. They speak to the person watching the broadcast, not to the camera. They don’t obsessively think about being an inch or two off their marks, but they don’t intentionally step outside the frame either. They appear at ease at all times.
  4. Eliminate outside distractions from the conference room. Modern microphones are more sensitive than ever, so close the door to the room where the conference is being held, silence pagers, watches and mobile phones and keep paper rustling to a minimum. Always assume that extraneous sounds are being picked up even though they may not be.
  5. Avoid wearing distracting or heavily decorated clothing. Cross-hatch patterns may react with a camera in unusual and distraction ways, and small decorations may not be very visible. Stick to simply decorated clothing to avoid creating distractions that can take attention away from your carefully planned words during your teleconference.
  6. Have a clear objective. Just like in a face-to-face meeting, be clear about what is to be discussed. Otherwise, you’ll never know when your discussion is complete. For video conference meetings, this means establishing a clear agenda and sharing it with all locations.
  7. Be sure someone is in charge at each location and over the whole meeting. Someone should be able to call time when the meeting runs longs, and someone at each location should be responsible for informing other locations when there is a communication problem. If no one is appointed to be a charge of a location, it’s possible that no one will speak up immediately if something goes wrong, and time could be wasted.
  8. Provide digital presentations and handouts in advance. People often prefer to view handouts and presentations in their own time so they can prepare prior to a meeting, so provide digital presentations and email copies of handouts in advance, allowing those who want to study the chance to do so. That can also save a meeting if a presentation won’t transmit at the proper time.

When you keep these eight common-sense tips in mind during your live video conferencing events, you can be sure that your words amount to true communication and don’t fall on deaf ears. Making the best use of your video conferencing equipment means making sure people know how to work with it rather than against it.