6 Videoconferencing Nightmares and How to Avoid ThemAugust 1, 2014
By Eric Vidal
August 1, 2014
6 Videoconferencing Nightmares and How to Avoid Them
Eric Vidal is a director of product marketing for event services for conferencing provider InterCall. He manages the strategy and initiatives for the virtual technologies that include virtual environments, streaming, event management services and operator assisted services. With more than 15 years in this field, Vidal previously managed the virtual classroom product, as well as brand advertising and new media for WebEx. Vidal also has held management positions at Cisco, IBM, BBDO Worldwide and Macromedia. www.intercall.com
While in-person meetings are always preferred, unfortunately, they are not always an option. Video conferences, however, make an ideal alternative. They still allow for effective collaboration, especially when you need to spread information quickly and efficiently to an audience around the globe. They also benefit business operations. Sometimes, all participants are not available to meet at the same place and time, which may result in missed deadlines and projects ending up behind schedule. Videoconferencing eliminates certain obstacles and makes it easy for account management and the sales team to join a meeting no matter where they are located. This helps fast-track product launches, sales proposals and customer communications — just to name a few.
Today’s videoconferencing solutions have advanced technological capabilities that allow presenters to keep the audience’s attention better than the standard, lecture-style meeting. They also eliminate the need to buy plane tickets, hotel rooms, conference lunches or venues — providing exponential savings.
Because video conferences can be performed outside the office, people often forget they are still work-related communication events. This can lead to unprofessional and embarrassing mishaps that are easily avoidable.
“If you would not do it in a face-to-face meeting, then do not even think about doing it during an online video event.”
To prevent these common slip-ups from happening to you, and to refresh your videoconferencing skills, learn from these six videoconferencing horror stories:
- Always remember to press mute. You might have heard the story about the top executive who took a break from a video conference to use the bathroom and forgot to mute his microphone. It is an embarrassing mistake that is easy to avoid by taking extra caution. If you need to take a break from a video conference, remember to go before the conference or simply mute your microphone when you step away from a call. Taking these extra steps will save you from a huge embarrassment.
- Your pets weren’t invited to the meeting. Keep in mind that any disruption that occurs on or off camera is a distraction to everyone on the call. If you are considering having your dog or cat sit near you while you are on the call, please, reconsider your decision. I remember moderating a webinar for an author whose dog was in the same room. Her dog started howling and would not stop. I told her I would take a question from the audience to give her time to take care of the situation. Unfortunately, before I had the chance to mute her microphone, she said a few colorful words to her dog. Needless to say, the audience heard every single word. Always choose a place for your video conference that is clear of barking dogs, noisy children and ringing phones. These distractions are unprofessional and disrespectful to everyone on the other end.
- Don’t let your ego get the best of you. There is a story circulating about a woman who decided to have a video conference while she was driving. In the midst of her conference, a police officer pulled her over for illegally using a handheld device. As he walked up to her car window, she turned the camera toward him in an attempt to embarrass him. Instead, she mortified herself. Moral of the story? Aside from being mindful of your environment, do not let the power of videoconferencing go to your head.
- Be thoughtful of what you say on and off camera. Like the executive who did not mute his line during a bathroom break, there is a similar story of a host who incorrectly thought he muted his microphone and started to talk negatively about the attendees. This horror story can get you in some serious trouble. Not only is this mistake extremely unprofessional and embarrassing, but it can cost you clients, your reputation and perhaps even your job. If you would not do it in a face-to-face meeting, then do not even think about doing it during an online video event.
- Dress in professional attire. We are very fortunate to have the ability to video conference from our home or even while we are away on vacation. Please, do not take advantage of the situation by showing up in your pajamas. Dress appropriately for a video conference by wearing similar clothes to the ones you would wear to any regular in-office meeting. This means put the bathrobe away and put on a collared shirt. If you are sitting, perhaps you can get away with wearing a pair of slippers, but I do not recommend taking the risk.
With that in mind, choose a location to mirror your professional look. This means do not meet from your bed. Even if you think no one will notice, trust me, they will. Choose a setting that looks clean, neat and professional.
- Test run all of the equipment beforehand. There is nothing worse than attending a video conference where the equipment does not work for a good chunk of the time. Even in today’s day and age where technology lies at the center of our every move, technical difficulties still pop up time and time again. The Internet goes out, one of the presenter’s microphones doesn’t work or one of the participants simply doesn’t know how to use the platform. No matter the issue, every minute lost to technical difficulties creates an inconvenience for your audience and undermines the credibility of your organization.
As with many of these mistakes, this one, too, is easily avoidable by taking extra caution. Test each microphone and video camera before the start of the event. Also, check the strength of the Internet connection. If there is a chance the connection could give out, find a location that has a stronger connection. Taking these extra steps ahead of time will save your organization from appearing inexperienced and amateur.
Video conferences present their own unique challenges, but that does not mean they are not possible to overcome. With advance planning and extra caution, your next video conference will be a great success — free of errors and embarrassment. C&IT