With more people now working from home, many have turned to video conferencing apps (Zoom, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams) to conduct face-to-face meetings with colleagues and customers.
Although video conferencing has been in use since the mid-1990s, the technology still has plenty of pitfalls and social faux pas for the uninitiated.
For tips on conducting great one-to-one video calls, Anna Runkle’s video, “How to Look Professional on Zoom” is a must-watch.
But what about video conference calls – the ones that take place in a conference room with multiple people? Smaller manufacturers need to consider what their conference rooms look like from the other side of the camera.
A reflection of your brand and business
All of us are blind to how our work (and living) spaces look from an outsider’s perspective. Clutter tends to build up over time, we find workarounds for things that don’t work properly (versus replacing them), and decor becomes dated and dusty.
For someone viewing your room from a narrow-angle camera view, items that you no longer “see” can have a negative impact on how your business is perceived. And remember, perception is reality.
When designing the video space for your conference room, consider the following tips.
Good lighting is key
Poor lighting can leave people in shadow, making it difficult for remote people to see faces.
Another mistake is to hang the video display or projection screen beneath a fluorescent lighting fixture. The fixture washes out the screen and the glare makes it difficult for people in the room to see the screen.
Consider the light coming in from windows. While natural light is wonderful, it can cause glare, leave people in shadow, etc.
When setting up your video display, do a test run with team members from their homes to ensure each of you can see one another. Adjust blinds, dim or enhance lighting, etc.
Invest in multiple high-quality microphones
One problem with audio and video conference calls is that you often can’t hear one or more people – either because someone is soft-spoken or because the table doesn’t have enough microphones.
How many room microphones you need depends on the size and type of your conference room and the type of microphones used. For example, a corporate board room table may require dedicated microphones for each seat location, whereas a typical conference room might only need two or three table mics.
With audio being the most important aspect of any conference call, it pays to consult with a qualified audio expert for the best solution.
Declutter and clean
Remove junk from the conference table and ensure it’s clean. Hide or tidy visible cables.
If you have a beautiful wood table, give it a good shine with furniture polish.
Replace broken blinds or shades. Chairs should be in great condition and ideally, all should match.
Remove anything that isn’t necessary – clutter, boxes of schwag from old tradeshows, etc.
Make sure the whiteboard is clean and doesn’t include notes from previous meetings.
Add flair to your decor
While you may not be working in a downtown high-rise, your conference room can still convey style and energy.
Look down the length of your room from the camera’s perspective. What will remote people see as they gaze into your room? Yes, the back wall!
This wall should have something impactful, such as a mural or your company’s logo. You could also have enlarged photos of production folks making your product.
Clocks showing different time zones imply that your business is global. Or, use text or a visual landmark to identify where your business is located.
If your room has large internal windows or glass walls, you could have your logo added to them, a map of the world, or some other relevant imagery.
Practice good video (and meeting) etiquette
With the rise of personal devices, behavior at in-person meetings has devolved into people being distracted and not paying attention.
Laptops and phones send out pings as new emails and texts come in. Meeting attendees gaze at their devices rather than giving full attention to the speaker. Some even take calls in the middle of the meeting! (“Excuse me, this call is important.” Errr, so is the meeting!)
With this lack of attention comes other behaviors: Yawning without covering the mouth, scratching, looking bored, interrupting others, etc.
To create a first-rate impression with customers and prospects, keep all devices on silent. While people may need to use laptops, ask that phones be kept in pockets or bags.
Go over proper etiquette with your team. You don’t have to be stiff and formal, but you do want everyone to exhibit behaviors that reflect well on your company and brand.
Video conferencing is here to stay. Make the most of this tool by using it to its full potential.