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John Jantsch

Founder of Duct Tape Marketing

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5 Steps to a Killer Video Conference

February 06, 2017

Here’s what you need to know to host an engaging, exciting and informative video conference.

Video conferencing is a powerful tool. It can help to coordinate teams that are in wildly different locations in ways that simply haven't been possible in the past. However, just as with a traditional meeting or a teleconference, there are a lot of ways a video conference can be frustrating, confusing, or even boring. These five tips will give you everything you need to put together a killer video conference.

1. Have clear ground rules for best practices. Make sure that everyone has the same basic understanding of etiquette, so things don't become chaotic. Look at the camera when you're talking, not at the screen. Otherwise, it looks like you're looking off into the middle distance (which gives off the subconscious impression that you're lying). Instead, look at the screen when you're listening.

From an audio perspective, you want to make sure that everyone is clear on when to use the mute button. Everyone should be on mute except for the speaker, but if necessary you, as the host, can control this. There's nothing worse than someone who is continuously piping background noise into the meeting. Having people default to mute is also useful for preventing overlapping interjections. Another helpful rule of thumb? Wait two seconds before speaking to keep from talking over others.

2. Make sure you look good. Look, we're all just a little bit vain--who hasn't looked at themselves on a video conference and fixed their hair? Video conferences are all about the visual component, and the little things matter if you want to look sharp. Take a second before the meeting to look at the image you'll be broadcasting: adjust your lighting, so you're easy to see; organize your background, so it's neat and free of clutter; make sure that you're not wearing a pattern like stripes or gingham that will cause distracting strobing.

3. Test your technology. Nothing is more frustrating than logging into the video conference a little before the appointed time and then having to wait while other people fiddle with technology. Make sure that you take the time just before your meeting to test out the conferencing technology, even if it's worked in the past. Always have a backup option in place just in case everything goes haywire.

4. Clearly outline your meeting before it starts. Because you're not meeting face-to-face, it can be easy to get distracted or go off track when you're in a video conference. Because of this risk, it's even more important to provide your team with a clear agenda before the meeting begins, so you can keep things organized and efficient. This will also help you to figure out how to handle things like questions, which might work best if relegated to the chat window.

5. Take advantage of video with strong visuals. Finally, you want to make sure that you're taking advantage of everything video has to offer by developing strong visuals to go along with the information you're presenting. With screen sharing, the possibilities are limitless; make sure that you're taking full advantage.

Video conferences are a double-edged sword. They have the potential to be incredibly engaging and effective if they're done right, or even more boring and restrictive than a teleconference if they're done wrong. With clear ground rules, attention to your visuals, and good preparation, you have all the tools you need to host a killer video conference that is engaging, exciting, and informative.

This piece originally appeared on Inc.

Photo via VisualHunt.com

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