6 Major Dos & Don'ts to Video Conferencing at Home

6 Major Dos & Don'ts to Video Conferencing at Home

Video conferencing has become a major part of our professional lives because it’s an easy way to hold meetings with clients or employees that live in different regions, and it’s useful during times when we’re working from home. However, it’s easy to take the meeting from professional to awkward if you’re not following proper video call etiquette.

It’s easy to slip into our relaxation mode even during work hours when you’re at your house. This is your ultimate comfort zone, but, when it comes to a video call for work, you need to get yourself together and put on a professional outfit paired with fun but appropriate accessories like your favorite gold chain or a dainty charm necklace. Once you look the part, it’s easier to act the part. Here are some other things to keep in mind before you hop on that next video conference call.

1. Do Dress to Impress

Being a part of a video conference call is much the same as being a part of an in-person meeting. You need to present yourself as a professional who knows what you’re talking about and should be taken seriously by your boss, colleagues, and clients. Even though it’s really tempting to show up for your call rocking your sweatpants and a comfy t-shirt (after all, you’re at home! Why do you need to get dressed?), you absolutely need to dress the part. Break out your office attire and accessories like gold chains or bracelets to get your mind into work mode and show the rest of the people on the call that you mean business.

2. Don’t Pick a Messy Background

Before you hop on the call, you should definitely take the time to open your camera and check out what your background looks like. You don’t need to worry about impressing people with a perfectly immaculate house, but you also don’t want people to see your plate from lunch or a pile of dirty laundry in the background. It can easily distract people from what you’re talking about, and it’s just kind of a bad look.

It’s easy to move a few things out of the frame or simply pick another area of the house with a more appealing background. Some video services like Zoom allow you to select your own green screen background, which can be fun as long as you don’t pick something too silly or distracting.

3. Do Let Others Speak

When talking to a group of people over a video chatting app, it can be difficult for everyone to have a chance to talk. Sometimes, there is a slight delay, which causes people to awkwardly start talking at the same time before stopping and allowing the other person to talk. This is somewhat unavoidable when using these types of programs, but do your best to allow for pauses between statements before you jump right in. If someone is in the middle of talking, do not—we repeat—do not interrupt them. You wouldn’t do that during an in-person meet, so don’t do it over the computer either.

4. Don’t Have Side Conversations

When you’re working from home, you may have other family members or roommates around during your call. Try to go somewhere in the house where you can be uninterrupted by others. There’s nothing worse than someone having a side conversation with their significant other or roommate in the middle of an important call.

If you absolutely have to speak to someone in the room (maybe a young child), be sure to turn your microphone off and back on so that you’re not interrupting the person speaking at the time. Side conversations also can make it seem as though you’re not paying attention to the subject at hand, so it’s best to simply avoid doing this altogether.

5. Do Look into the Camera

Being in your own home during a work call can be tough because there are so many things around you that can be distracting, whether it's the TV in the other room, your cat walking across your desk (we’ll cover this one next), or chores that need to get done. Although in a normal in-person meeting you may not keep eye contact for the entire conversation, when you’re talking over the computer, it’s important to keep your eyes on the monitor. It will demonstrate that you are being attentive and talking in the information.

If you want to take handwritten notes at the same time, that’s okay because it shows that, while you might be looking down occasionally, you’re focused on what is being said. You can even clarify at the beginning of the meeting if you’d like, that you will be jotting down notes.

6. Don’t Let Your Pets Interrupt

When it comes to your pets and video conference calls, most of the time, you want to keep your pets in another room and prevent them from interrupting. However, if you’re having a very casual internal meeting with a few coworkers that you know well, it may be okay to have your pet make a brief star appearance.

Sometimes when working from home, we like to show off our pets especially if you work at a dog-friendly office. For the most part, though, you’ll want to temporarily put your pets somewhere else in the house. We all know how much cats love to step, sleep, and lie on our laptops, but, in the middle of an important conference, this can be distracting and unprofessional.

Keep It Professional Even from Home

Video conference calls from your house may not be a standard work protocol, but there are many occasions that call for this type of telecommunication. You want to maintain the same level of professionalism even if you’re working from your living room or kitchen. Dress just as you would for a real meeting and maybe throw on some accessories like your favorite gold chains or a nice Rolex watch.

Then find a clean, private area of the house where other household members (including pets) can’t disturb you. As long as you stay engaged in the conversation without talking over people, you’re sure to impress your boss, the client, and your peers.