Are You Following VCE?
Zoom, BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, AdobeConnect. The list goes on and on. Fun software communication tools that were once used only by tech geeks are now common in our everyday lives. Effective use of these tools is critical since it seems our time and our communication are dominated by these virtual tools.
Yaman Coskun, CEO/COO of Yamanair Creative always has a creative view of the world. He shares his 11 rules of VCE. (Video Call Etiquette)
Based on a quick audit of my calendar, it turns out, I have hosted or attended a total of 97 video calls since March 1. Consequentially, I feel like J.K. Simmons; I know a thing or two. Because I’ve seen a thing or two. In fact, at some point, I have effectively violated all these items, hence the reason why I now know what I know now.
11 RULES OF VCE (Video Call Etiquette)
1. GET LIT – No. Not like that. Save it for the Friday virtual happy hour with your friends. We are talking about getting proper lighting on your face. Be sure the light is on you. Not behind you. For example, if you are positioned with the window behind you, it will turn you into a shady character in a low-budget horror movie. Invest 40 bucks in a simple video ring light. It is worth it.
2. NEED STABILITY - Your device must be 100 percent stable. No shaky hand-held devices while walking and talking, which has the same effect on the participants as nails on a chalkboard. When on your laptop, deviate from its name. Don’t put it on your lap. Or anywhere else that is unstable. If you share your screen while the camera is on, that means you will be stroking the keys, which will vibrate the camera, thus creating another annoyance for the audience. Best practice? If you are going to share your screen, first, turn your camera off.
3. SSSSHHHH - Soundproof your environment to the best of your ability. Leave the dog outside, sedate the canaries, warn other members of your household or office, close the windows, etc. As a last resort, and for practical soundproofing, go to your “parked” car if the noise cannot be controlled. And, uhm, I feel really dumb for adding this but, friends don’t let friends conference and drive.
4. SURPRISE - Contrary to what Zoom may tell us, there is a parade of other awesome video call platforms out there. Learn where the navigational buttons are before you rush into a call you are invited to, so we don’t have to waste our lives watching you look for the unmute or share my screen buttons.
5. MUTE - When joining a call, unless your host or the platform does it by default, mute yourself immediately until you have a valid reason to unmute.
6. THIS IS NOT A LUNCH MEETING - NEVER, EVER eat or drink on camera. It is both visually and sonically gross, unprofessional and disrespectful. That goes for the leftover Chinese food boxes within the shot of the camera. We like the audio feed and the video feed. Not the human feed, during video calls.
7. SOCIAL DISTANCE YOUR CAMERA - Take the current social distancing rule and cut in half. That means there should be a minimum of three feet or more between yourself and your camera. Not even the most attractive human on earth can look good when the camera is ten inches away angled beneath their nostrils. Invest in a pair of wireless earplugs and a wireless keyboard. That way you can put your laptop as far away as you want while still having perfect audio and screen control.
8. BACKGROUND CHECK - Unless you are on a news network pushing an agenda by up righting the books you are currently reading (or publishing), the less you have in the background, the better it is. Keep it clean and professional. If you are a VB (virtual background) fan, the most appropriate option is “blur.” Everything else is an unwelcome distraction on business calls unless you are given a prime directive by your boss to have your company logo as your VB.
9. DRESS THE PART - Fix yourself up and dress yourself up the same way you would if you were actually walking into a meeting at the office with your co-workers or clients rather than looking like you just fell off a speeding motorcycle. How we appear often speaks as loudly as what we say.
10. PAUSE THE VIDEO FEED - Your camera has an on/off switch. If you must take an ocean size gulp of your coffee or your oblivious partner barges in with no pants on, turn off your camera temporarily until you quickly regain your visual composure. It is a much better alternative than to inadvertently hijack a live meeting and end up as a permanent viral video circulating the world. Yikes.
11. WHAT THE… ?? - Did you ever wave at your co-workers and clients when leaving a conference room? So, why on earth do we do that at the end of a professional video call? I don’t know. I keep doing it. I must stop.
Thanks, Yaman, for sharing these great tips. Do you have something that annoys you on video calls that is not on the list? I’d love to hear from you. Email me here.