Video Conferencing 101: The Good, the Bad and the Funny

Including a Zoom how-to video

By Sapana Panday, MPH, CCMEP, and Matthew Pereira

As many people transition to working remotely, whether due to circumstances related to COVID-19 or a changing professional environment, video conferencing is becoming an increasingly popular part of professional life. Here are some video conferencing etiquette and best practices, including a Zoom how-to video by Brian S. McGowan, PhD, FACEhp.

Dress for Your Day

Dress appropriately (this includes wearing professional pants). You may be tempted to wear your gym shorts, but you never know when you have to stand up.

Avoid dressing with patterns. Light, neutral earth tones or solid, pastel colors work best on the screen.

If you wear make-up during in-person meetings, do the same for virtual meetings. You want to project the same professional image that your colleagues are accustomed to seeing.

Selecting a Space

Make sure your background is business appropriate. Try to have an office setting or plain wall in the background.

You may want to use Zoom virtual backgrounds, but test this first, as they can be distracting if they’re not setup correctly. Keep in mind, if you change your location/move, you will want to test the background again.

If you are the speaker for a large conference, consider investing in a green screen ($50 on Amazon or you can make your own as Brian McGowan shares in his Zoom video tutorial below).

Make sure your room is lit well. Natural light will look the best, but a desk lamp will help. If your background is brighter than you are, consider closing the blinds, curtains or shades on your windows, or move so the window is not in the background, but in front of you. The brightest light in the room should always be in front of you.

Before the Meeting: Planning Video Conferences

When it comes to using video conferencing, practice makes perfect. Before you run a video call, make sure you are familiar with the conference tool (Webex, Microsoft Teams, Zoom). Other helpful tips include:

  • Make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection in the location you choose.
  • It’s best to use headphones with a built-in microphone.
  • Don’t forget about time zones when scheduling meetings.
  • Plan to join the call 5 minutes before to test audio and video if you are an attendee and 15 minutes before if you are running the meeting.
  • Ensure your computer is plugged into a charger during the meeting.
  • Practice with the app you plan to use, make sure you know how to share and use the meeting controls
  • Make sure your video conferencing account can support the number of attendees and length of your planned meeting.

During the Conference

Here are helpful tips to ensure success during your next video conference:

  • Center yourself in the middle of the screen, consider raising your laptop up using a small sturdy box or those old college text books you still haven’t thrown out.
  • Look into the camera when talking. It's tempting to look at yourself, but don’t. Most apps have a “hide yourself” option if you find it tempting to look at yourself.
  • If you use two screens, make sure you are looking at the screen with the camera. Turn off the second screen, unless it is necessary
  • Be aware of dial-in options in case you or a team member is unable to connect using computer audio.
  • If bandwidth is/becomes an issue, skip the video.
  • If there is unexpected noise around you, mute yourself until it passes. (alt + a toggles mute on/off in Zoom).
  • Close unnecessary apps like instant messaging, chats and even Outlook, especially if you plan to share your screen. You never know what someone may send.
  • Don’t forget to unmute yourself when you want to talk. Conversely, be aware if you aren’t muted, so you don’t disrupt the meeting.
  • If you are running the meeting, greet your attendees as they enter the conference and let them know who they are talking to (e.g., “Hi, this is Matt from The France Foundation.”)
  • If you are recording the meeting, announce it in advance to keep the meeting focused and minimize personal conversations.
  • Avoid doing other work or non-work items on your computer. It is very easy to

accidentally share your screen, and some programs allow the host to share your screen (without your permission).

A Quick Zoom Tutorial

Want to take a closer look at Zoom video conferencing? Dr. Brian McGowan shares his favorite video conferencing tips and tricks in the video below.

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