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Top Etiquette Rules for Video Conferencing

By Paul Fitzgerald for America's Backbone Weekly

Video conferencing is the in-thing these days in the business and government world. Many industries rely on video conferencing healthcare, education, communications, transportation and professional services as this technology saves time and money and is great for meetings, sharing information and making presentations. Video conferencing does not require any travel and it's a convenient and efficient means of communicating with your team. And it's also a great tool for businesses with budget constraints. This is why Skype and Webex are two widely utilized platforms for video conferencing for businesses. Most businesses now rely on live-video-conferencing over audio as face time is effective for communicating, especially with small and larger groups.

So, how do you act and not act while that little camera has its eyes on you? Here are some important etiquette tips to follow while the camera is on you:

Maintain eye contact: the tendency is to stare at your monitor when you should look into the camera. So, always look into the camera as it will let others know you are engaged in the meeting. Working from home is great, but also keep in mind that when you participate in video- conferencing that you dress just like you would at the office.

Avoid typing: not only does it create a distracting noise but also says in many ways that you're not paying attention. Others on the conference could think you are working on something unrelated even if you are taking notes, so use the old-fashioned pen and paper style when it comes to taking minutes.

Don't eat: if you wouldn't bring your ham sandwich to the boardroom, don't bring it to the video-conference.

Avoid interruptions: these can break your concentration and make you look unprepared and unprofessional. If you're at the office, hang a "meeting in progress" sign on your door or cubicle and if you're at home, make sure the cat can't jump on the table and if you have any small children make sure that they are safely occupied.

Don't forget or ignore other participants: often video calls are between a room full of people and one person in a remote locale so it's important to ensure that people participating outside a group are included in the conference: give cues and opportunities for comments and questions.

Choose a neutral background: A disorganized or heavy-contrasted background can be distracting for viewers as well as background. Sitting in front of windows creates unnecessary challenges for the camera to adjust light levels and if your environment has a lot of background noise, chose a different location.

Check, double-check and triple-check: technical difficulties are among the biggest errors. It is important to know of software updates which should be pre-loaded before a meeting, and that you have the right passwords and telephone numbers for quick and easy access to a meeting.

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