Tag Archives: video conferencing

Video conferencing etiquette 101

Looking for the key that unlocks productivity and innovation at companies? Video conferencing is your answer, letting employees scattered across the globe to collaborate via face-to-face interaction. However, just like phone decorum calls for a "hello" and "goodbye," video conferencing requires its own set of manners.

To ensure you make a good impression on your boss and co-workers, here are some video conferencing etiquette guidelines:

Look presentable 

Just because you can call into a video meeting in your bedroom doesn't mean you can get away with wearing your pajamas. Treat the call like any other business meeting and wear what you would sport to the office (and maybe move from a stack of pillows to your desk). And please, wear pants, too. Even though screens will show only your upper half, you never know if the camera could fall or you'll need to get up for some reason, as Entrepreneur magazine pointed out. It pays to be prepared. 

Have a tidy background

Be conscious of your background before joining a video conference. Make sure the space behind you is clean and free of clutter; otherwise the meeting participants will be focused on the dirty dishes littering the table behind you more than your talking points. Use an even, face-level camera angle, too, as anything else is distracting. 

Set up good lighting 

You don't need to become a lighting expert before you dial in to a video meeting, but you should make sure the room will be bright enough for all callers to see your face clearly and without shadows. 

Keep your microphone muted 

You never know what's going to be amplified by your computer or headset microphone – your finger tapping, a fan running in the background, a dog barking, a car speeding down the street, etc. It's polite to keep your microphone on mute when you're not talking. 

Make eye contact 

It's human nature to have your eyes fixed on your beautiful face in the box at the bottom of the screen instead of on your webcam. However, looking directly into the camera is important because it helps you connect with your audience. 

Fight the urge to type

You may want to type notes during your video conference, but resist the temptation, the Wall Street Journal advised. Not only could it create noise if your microphone isn't on mute, but also other people may assume that you are working on something unrelated to the meeting. 

With these tips, you can have pitch-perfect video conferencing manners. 

4 tips for planning holiday office parties

The company holiday party isn't just a chance to decorate the office and eat one too many cookies; it's an important opportunity to recognize employees for the hard work they've done all year.

As you head into the fourth quarter, it's a smart idea to start planning your office's holiday party. The earlier you begin hammering out the details, the better, as a little prep work nows saves headaches later and helps ensure the festivities are a hit. 

Here are four tips for planning your holiday office party:

1. Pick a fun theme 

Giving the holiday party a creative theme keeps the atmosphere from being too stuffy and, as online invitations company Punchbowl noted, provides a focus for the event that can simplify planning. An ugly sweater party is a classic theme, but there are lots of other fun ideas you could try, such as:

  • North Pole: Transform the space into a winter wonderland complete with Santa's workshop. 
  • Holidays in Paradise: Decorate with a tropical island theme. 
  • Roaring 20s: Have a classy, old-fashioned holiday celebration with 1920s-inspired decor and music. 

2. Choose a convenient time

Schedule the holiday party for a convenient time to boost attendance rates; the Friday right before many employees head off for holiday travel may not be the best day for the party. 

Some companies hold their holiday parties in the evening, after a workday or on the weekend. However, the event doesn't have to be after hours; luncheons are a popular alternative, according to HR consulting firm ERC. They can be held during the workweek, making them likely more convenient for a greater number of employees, and these gatherings can be less expensive than evening parties, offering a great option for smaller budgets. 

3. Consider your booze policy 

Give some thought to whether you'll serve alcohol at your party. If you do, it's important to follow safe practices. The Balance has a helpful list of tips for serving alcohol at company events; it includes serving solely beer and wine instead of liquor and limiting the number of hours the bar is open. Only professional bartenders should serve alcohol, too, never employees. 

4. Include remote workers 

Remote workers shouldn't be left out of the festivities! With the simple-to-use video conferencing solutions available today, companies can get creative with including their remote staff in the party. As The Atlantic explained in an article on the increasing popularity of remote-work holiday parties, telecommuting staff can call into in-office parties via video conference. 

With these tips, you can throw a fun and successful holiday party at your company this year. 

How to optimize productivity in meetings with remote workers

Having remote workers enables you to get the best talent on your team, no matter where it's located. But for telecommuting arrangements to actually be an advantage for your business, you need effective connectivity and collaboration with your remote employees. 

Many managers already struggle to hold meetings that engage in-office workers, let alone those located on the other side of the country or world. But don't sweat it; with the easy productivity practices below, you can make sure meetings with remote workers are worthwhile. 

Use video instead of audio-only meetings 

Video meetings and web conferences are the way to go when it comes to connecting with your remote workforce. They enable face-to-face communication, which helps remote workers feel like they're in the loop and part of the team. These tools improve understanding because you're able to see facial cues and not just hear someone's voice. And as organizational effectiveness consultant Shani Magosky noted in a post for InsideOut Development, these types of remote meetings reduce the chance that employees multitask while in the meeting – so no worries that they're answering emails or working on other projects while you talk.

Keep it action-oriented 

When you have remote workers scattered around the world, with each one potentially following a unique schedule, it's important that meetings bring your company closer to its goals in tangible ways. Make sure every meeting has a clear goal and purpose; for example, find a solution to a workflow issue, de-bug a tech problem or decide on next steps for a project. Even more "abstract" activities like brainstorming can have concrete objectives drawn from them, such as aiming to come up with X number of product ideas to present to upper-level management. Participants should go into the meeting knowing exactly what they need to do and come out knowing their next steps. 

Share materials seamlessly 

Remote workers shouldn't feel far away, and with video conferencing tools that enable you to seamlessly share relevant materials, they won't. Share online content, presentations, sales pitches, product demos and more during video meetings with remote workers to take collaboration and productivity to the next level. 

With the innovative platforms available today, remote workers are closer than ever. Use these tips to boost productivity in meetings with your telecommuters. 

What’s New with ReadyTalk’s Web Conferencing Platform?

A lot actually! It’s been an exciting few quarters here at ReadyTalk with a major focus on user experience, meeting quality and participant security. We completed two great projects that brought HTML5 and HD video capabilities to our core platform.

We refreshed our participant view with a more modern, intuitive and clean interface. This initiative moved us off Flash and onto an HTML5 based web browser client. You may have heard about Flash’s severe security flaws exposed in 2016. Highlights of our move to HTML5 and new participant interface include:

  • Participants no longer need to install Flash. HTML5 is standard in modern browsers
  • Participants can focus on the content with disappearing toolbars and a collapsible chat window
  • Animated notification when a chat message is received and the chat interface is closed
  • Improved settings menu to manage their audio connection and devices
  • Dynamic window resizing
  • VoIP using WebRTC technology which provides a high-quality audio experience

Since the HTML5 interface does not support Flash, our video conferencing solution got an update too! Enhanced video in core (EVC) utilizes new WebRTC technology. This allowed us to bring a variety of video upgrades to our customers and their participants. Highlights of EVC include:

  • Simultaneous viewing of up to 6 webcam feeds; Previously only 4 feeds could be seen at a time
  • Active speaker rotation that allows more than 6 participants to share their cameras, but select the 6 active speakers at any given time to be displayed
  • More control over size of webcam feeds for both hosts and participants with dynamic resizing
  • More seamless video streams with nearly no lag

I’m most excited about our UI updates in our Chairperson controls! Have you seen them yet? You’ll notice a fresher color palette, an updated look and feel, and a new Add Co-Presenter button making it that much easier to collaborate with your participants. Take a look when you have a moment and enjoy your next meeting!

Why Video Conferences are Helpful to IT Personnel

Are you more productive on a phone or video call? Do you prefer meeting with people face to face or via a quick phone conversation? As an IT professional, it’s vital to stay up to date with the latest technology and collaborative tools to improve internal and external communications at your organization. While conference calls and in-person meetings are effective in certain scenarios, video conferencing solutions can make IT personnel more effective at their job.

With the rise of the remote workforce and the evolving nature of workplace responsibilities, IT professionals feel more pressure than ever to ensure that all communication channels are operating properly. Just as marketing or sales teams can use video conferencing solutions to collaborate with their teams, IT personnel can use these tools to ensure all systems are functioning optimally. Here are a few more ways IT workers can leverage video conferencing at their organization

Proactively solve tech issues

While small companies often have a small in-house IT team, larger organizations usually have off-site or even remote IT staff to handle tech issues. Video conferencing tools allow IT personnel to communicate effectively about various system problems or concerns. If IT professionals are based in numerous locations, video tech support lets teams collaborate and proactively address tech issues before they grow out of hand.

Improve operational productivity

Obviously, video conferencing tools are perfect for cutting down travel expenses and connecting remote teams. Yet, some professionals believe these solutions can be even more efficient and promote more operational productivity than normal in-person meetings. While face-to-face meetings can easily devolve into friendly chitchat, video conferences often have a designated start and end time, with people dialing in from all over. This makes veering off a meeting’s set agenda less likely.

To improve communications as an IT personnel, consider ReadyTalk’s video conferencing services today!