As the pandemic rumbles on, we seem destined to spend at least a few more months navigating the tricky world of video calls.
By this point, you'd expect most people to have a grasp of the general code of conduct when joining a video call. However, you'd be surprised at just how easily simple etiquette goes out the window when conversations take place over the internet.
With that in mind and based on our learnings over the last year, we've created a simple guide with some tips and tricks to being on your best video call behaviour.
We cover how to make sure your tech is up to scratch, operating the call and guidance around language and etiquette.
Operating the video call
- Make sure to password lock your call, you don't want any unwelcome visitors barging in!
- Set Some Rules
- Before the call starts, establish whether it's going to be a an informal chat or a formal meeting. This way, everyone knows where they stand.
- Screen Sharing
- Always be conscious of what's on your screen before you start a screen share. Also, do some research into the best apps for supporting screen share beforehand, to optimise efficiency.
- Check your lighting and background on camera to make sure it looks suitable for the call. You might love your Harry Styles poster, but letting it loom large in the background of your call might not exactly be appropriate.
- Unattended Microphone and Camera
- Be careful not to leave your mic or camera unattended, people can still see and hear everything you're doing in the background!
- Assigning A Coordinator
- Appoint someone to conduct the conversation through audio/visual cues that will ensure it flows without disruption.
Minding Your Manners
- With regards to having your camera on, follow the consensus of the call. If everyone else's face is on-screen, yours should be too.
- You might've heard this one a million times, but please don't forget to mute your microphone when you're not talking. To make this easier, seek out video call providers that offer a push-to-talk function, such as Jitsi.
- Always do your best to be on time for video calls. If you are late, don't interrupt the conversation by jumping in and apologising, wait until the right moment.
- Identify Yourself
- People don't want to be in a call with an anonymous user, so make sure to have your name displayed on-screen so they know who they're talking to.
- As a general rule, don't screenshot during video calls. You wouldn't take a photo of someone in a regular meeting, and it can be seen as an invasion of privacy.
- Wait Your Turn
- Allow people to talk one at a time. There's nothing worse than a group of people all shouting over one another and it minimises efficiency. Equally, leave a few seconds longer than usual for the next person to talk, to allow for any latency issues.
- Greetings and Goodbyes
- Always be polite when entering or leaving a call. A simple wave hello and goodbye goes a long way.
- Raising Your Hand
- Yes it might feel like you're back in school, but raising a hand to let people know you have something to say is much more polite than interrupting someone mid-flow. If you don't want to physically raise your hand, some services like Jitsi have a raised-hand button for ease.
- Small Talk
- Conduct some small talk with whoever you're on the call with. You'll make them feel more comfortable and it's a sure-fire way to build rapport.
- Where appropriate, try and inject some humour into the conversation. You don't need to be the next Ricky Gervais, but some lighthearted laughs can always help to lift spirits.
- Dress Appropriately
- If you're stuck at home, it might be tempting to sit around in your pyjamas all day, but that may not be appropriate attire for your work call. Whilst making sure you're comfortable, a little extra effort into what you're wearing can go a long way in making a professional impression.
- Avoid bright lights behind you - your colleagues will only see your silhouette, instead make sure you have sufficient light on your face but without dazzling yourself.
Checking Your Tech
- It might sound a little obvious, but always check to see if your microphone, camera, speakers and screen sharing capabilities are all working before you start the call.
- Fixing Problems
- If you are having issues with your tech, don't join the call until it's fixed. It can be distracting for others trying to talk if you're trying to fix it during the call.
- Headphones and microphone
- Use headphones during calls to minimise feedback and echo, which also reduces the workload of your computer for noise-cancelling. Equally, avoid using wireless headsets, as they can add to latency issues, causing delays in the conversation.
- Connectivity issues
- If you're having problems with your connectivity, turn your camera off to reserve bandwidth after the call has started. Usually, a good audio connection is more important than sharing video, should you need to make the choice. Do switch it back on when it is time to say farewells at the end of the call.
So, next time you're sent yet another link to join a call, remember these simple steps to ensure your video call etiquette is always to the highest standards.