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Many modern companies like our very own online accountancy service strive to make accessibility and convenience a priority for their customers, which means offering a variety of ways to get in touch. Face-to-face meetings are still vital but with the decline of the 9-to-5 lifestyle, clients and colleagues are demanding more versatile methods of communication. One of the most popular and efficient of these is good old video calling but it’s important to avoid the seven deadly sins that come with it.

Video calling is great for a whole host of business-benefiting reasons so it comes as no surprise that more and more people are relying on it as a main channel of communication. Not only does this method of interaction save time travelling to various face-to-face meetings, most video calling applications like Skype and FaceTime are also totally free to use so can aid in the plight towards cost cutting too. Thanks to these advantages, it has now become a whole lot easier to reach out to customers across the globe, as well as stay in touch with local clients and colleagues on a day-to-day basis.

However with this new preferred way of communicating comes a plethora of bad habits that can put your professional reputation at risk if they aren’t broken. When you have a face-to-face meeting coming up, you make sure you’re on time and looking presentable but when there are two screens and fair few miles between you, these rules of etiquette can sometimes slip. Professionalism and decorum are part and parcel of building a successful and respectable brand though, so we’ve put together a few hints and tips to help you stay in line when taking advantage of the many opportunities afforded to us by the wonders of video calling.

Fix up, look sharp – When the person you are communicating with isn’t sat right in front of you, it can be easy to let worries about physical appearance go right out of the window but it’s just as important to look presentable when representing your business via video call. If you look smart and feel good then you’re more likely to conduct yourself professionally and project the confidence you need to instil trust in your reciprocator.

This advice is particularly relevant to those of you who are self-employed or work in a freelance capacity and run most of your meetings from the comfort of your own home. A snug onesie might seem like a good idea when it’s cold outside but be sure to resist temptation because pyjamas don’t often scream polished and professional.

Kill the radio star – Although you might genuinely be paying full attention to the person on the other side of the screen, unnecessary background noise can be distracting and uncomfortable for the person on the other end. Make sure you switch off any televisions or radios that might be playing before you connect the call, or if you’re out and about, make sure you situate yourself somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed by rowdy interruptions.

Don’t mistake the camera for a mirror – Another classic faux pas many of us are guilty of when involved in a video call is looking too much at ourselves and not at the person(s) you are conversing with. This is one of the deadliest of video call sins as being preoccupied with your own on-screen image is a sure way to come across as distracted, uninterested and frankly, quite rude.

Eye contact is paramount when it comes to face-to-face meetings to ensure effective engagement so you need to emulate this when taking part in a video call by looking into the camera, not at your own face. Ensuring that your physical appearance is in check and that you have the camera set up in the right position beforehand is a good way of minimising the temptation to use the camera as a mirror during your conversation.

Avoid public transport like the plague – It goes without saying that any form of mobile device usage is strictly prohibited whilst driving but it’s also highly advisable to avoid scheduling video calls when you are likely to be travelling on public transport. Although this might seem like the most convenient time for you, you are putting yourself at the mercy of fluctuating signal, background noise and chaotic surroundings.

Holding a video call while travelling might also inflict a sense of urgency and hurry onto the conversation which is likely to make the recipient feel rushed and like an inconvenience to you. Choose a more settled time of day when you have time to sit down and fully engage in the exchange.

Banish likely distractions – Distancing yourself from any likely distractions is also high on the list of priorities when conducting a successful video conversation. Whether this means cleansing your surroundings of any other devices, food, magazines, books, pets, pens or paper, for example, or removing yourself from the situation, make sure your concentration levels are optimal. You might think introducing your new puppy on camera makes for a cute ice breaker, or think the person on the other end won’t notice you doodling away but the chance are they will and they’ll wind up thinking you’re a lot less professional than you really are.

Make your surroundings appropriate – If you are in your office or workplace then all this will probably require is a ten-minute tidy up to make sure that your surroundings look clean and organised. However if you are conducting the video call at home or from another location, be sure to choose somewhere that is clear, orderly, conducive to concentration and entirely appropriate for the situation.

For example, don’t hold the conversation while sitting on the toilet or ordering a drink in the pub, or somewhere that might be too dark or loud for the recipient to understand what you’re saying. Situating yourself where you will be surrounded by clutter and chaos could suggest that you yourself are sloppy and untidy, while choosing an inappropriate location might project a risky sense of nonchalance. Your surroundings say a lot about you so be sure to choose them wisely.

Avoid mind-numbing multitasking – We understand that no matter how much you plan ahead and organise your time, there will always be curveballs that come along to scupper your schedule and make you panic. But no matter how tight of a deadline you’re working to, if you’ve committed to a video call with an important colleague or client, it’s vital that you give it your full attention. Trying to do multiple things at once will only leave you in a muddle of confusion and cause the person on the other end to feel like a chore. Set all other tasks aside during the conversation so you can perform to your full potential.

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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