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Over the last decade, video conferences have become increasingly frequent, providing a way for individuals to speak face to face without being in the same room, country, or even on the same continent.

Instead of a bland, boring phone call in which participants are busy multitasking on the other end of the line, only half listening to what you have to say, video conferencing provides you the opportunity to captivate your audience, seize their attention, and enjoy a more productive meeting without wasting resources to bring team members together face to face.

A video conference, however, is still a little different from a standard meeting. In a traditional meeting, your attendees are within a few feet of you, making body language, tone, and eye contact both important and influential. In a video conference, you are able to see your participants but may lose the benefits of close physical proximity. While hosting a successful meeting may come naturally to you, hosting a successful video conference may require a slightly different approach. Here’s what it takes to enhance meeting efficiency and host a winning video conference.

Make Sure Your Video Conference Equipment Is in Good Working Order

A traditional meeting entails simply showing up in a conference room but a video conference is a little more complex. Requiring a webcam, specialised software, and a high-speed internet connection, there are many pieces and parts that go into a successful video conference. While most software is fairly straightforward and easy to use, individuals who aren’t necessarily tech savvy may not be prepared to diagnose any unforeseen tech issues.

Prior to scheduling your video conference, be sure everything in your setup is working properly, and that you understand how to get the ball rolling. Make sure your webcam works, you know how to place calls, and that everything is plugged in and ready to use.

Know the Tools You Have Available

The tools in a meeting are straightforward and generally limited to what’s on hand in a conference room, but a video conference is different. Conference software offers many unique features to facilitate demonstrations, presentations, and communication that are not available in a traditional meeting. While these options can make a video conference easier, they only work as well as the user in control. Scrawling on the white board behind you might be easier for you, but using a similar feature through your conference software will make it easier for all of your attendees.

Prior to starting your meeting, it’s important to take time to get to know you have available and how to use it. Sharing a PowerPoint presentation may be an important part of your conference material, but if you don’t know how to use the features you need, your meeting may not make the impact you have in mind.

Engage Your Audience

Keeping your audience engaged might by a particular strength of yours in the conference room, but your approach may not be as effective over video. Learning how to engage your audience in a video conference is a skill every leader should have, but one that may not come naturally.

Although it may be easy to fall into a lecture mindset at a video conference, it’s important to speak conversationally and provide opportunities for feedback. Instead of looking at your attendees’ eyes on the screen, look directly into the webcam when speaking to mimic eye contact, allowing you to act as if you are speaking one on one with everyone attending your conference. Use visuals to keep your audience interested and the video platform chat features to encourage unobtrusive interaction.

Remember Meeting Etiquette

A video conference is still a business meeting, which means there’s no reason to throw etiquette aside. Even though participants can press the mute button and keep conversation quiet doesn’t mean that actions like chatting, eating, or multitasking during a video conference are acceptable.

Operate your video conferences in the same way you do traditional meetings, implementing the sames rules and restrictions. If there’s no eating allowed in your normal staff meetings, a lunchtime video conference is inappropriate. Holding a meeting from home? Put on a professional outfit anyways. Just because you and your team aren’t all together doesn’t mean you should ignore normal precedents. When the rules start to fall by the wayside, so will the impact of your message. When you treat your video conference as a serious meeting, your audience will do the same.

Holding conferences by video may not be the way your company has always done things, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an easy, affordable alternative to bringing team members around the world together. Rather than spending money on last-minute flights or conference room rentals, video conferences provide a way for business professionals to join together from anywhere in the world. By preparing your setup in advance, taking advantage of the tools at your disposal, and engaging your participants, a video conference can prove to be a better way to network, whether your teammates are down the street or on the other side of the globe.

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