Back when I worked for Kinko’s, public video conferencing rooms were all the rage. The benefits of video conferencing — cutting travel costs and bringing together remote teams (among others) — remain the same today. Fortunately, more of us can use this great tool thanks to laptop and cellphone cameras and broadband internet. This has driven the need for costly video conferencing equipment with dedicated lines to the brink of extinction. Question is, have your video conferencing skills gotten stuck in the dinosaur days?

Here are my recommendations for improving your video conferencing mojo:

  1. Mind the background. Get rid of visual distractions to keep the focus on you and your brilliant points. A little staging never hurt anyone. (I once started a video meeting with a long-handled feather duster sticking through my head a la Steve Martin’s fakes arrow circa 1977.)
  2. Mute is your friend. Removing that velvet Elvis poster off the wall behind you isn’t the only background you should clean up. You can’t always get rid of background noise, but you can and should mute yourself when not speaking. Many solutions like our Video Collaboration use sound to know when to pop your mug on screen. No one needs you interrupting their big moment to see you recover from a sneeze.
  3. Share your screen. That old adage “Show, don’t tell” has never been more true than during during virtual meetings. It’s easier for attendees to get away with multitasking or to get distracted when you aren’t in the same room. That makes visual aids a great tool for keeping attendees in engaged. Plus, visual learners will take more away from your meetings. Fortunately, video conferencing solutions typically include screen sharing in addition the bringing attendees face-to-face in glorious HD.
  4. Plan in advance. Online meetings, like audio conferencing and in-person meetings, benefit from advanced planning. Have your goals in mind, get that PowerPoint ready to share in Slideshow mode in advance, and log in early so you can greet your attendees with your presentation all ready to go.
  5. Make it easy to join. If your video conferencing is integrated as part of a unified communications (UC) solution, you can start meetings with a click or invite colleagues with a chat message. Your finance team will love you, too, since you can cancel your separate video conferencing software subscription.

Tada! You’re on your way to better online meetings.