Top Five Video Conferencing Faux Pas and How to Avoid Them

Jacey Overton

by Jacey Overton, Corporate Communications Manager, LifeSize

Video conferencing is an invaluable asset in your company’s toolkit, providing connectivity and communication across your organization, regardless of location. However, for many VC novices, there is a natural fear that you could make a mistake on video and embarrass yourself in front of colleagues. No need to worry, though. In this blog post, we have identified five key video conferencing faux pas and tips on how to avoid them.

1. Distracting workspaces

Video conferencing in HD is here and that means it is more important than ever to be aware of your workspace and what your colleagues can see in high-definition. Did your coworker write a funny note on your whiteboard or hang up an unflattering photograph of you as a joke? Though it is important to personalize your office, make sure that you keep things business-appropriate and remove any questionable items you may have on display before a video call.

If you are meeting in a conference room, be aware of what is written on all white boards and collaborative areas. Whether it is confidential information or an office prank, remember that those joining you on your video call may be able to read every last word.

2. Unintended facial expressions

Yawining during a video conference may be perceived as rude to the other participants. (Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia)

On an audio conference call, you may feel inclined to sneak in a sarcastic eye roll when the other party disagrees with you or check your iPhone for the latest Instagram update as the meeting drags on. On video, this behavior is blatantly obvious. Remember that your face is always on display – in HD –  and every facial expression you make will be noticed, from an eye roll to a yawn. It is important to be aware of your expressions and attentiveness while speaking to colleagues or clients over video.

3. Inappropriate wardrobe choices

If you are telecommuting from home, you may have the urge to dress more comfortably than you would at the office. However, remember that you are still “working” and may have ad-hoc video conferences with important colleagues or clients.  In this case, your jeans and T-shirt won’t fly on camera, no matter how casual you’re feeling while working from home. Dress as you would for any high-level business meeting and remember to avoid anything flashy or sparkly, as it can be accentuated on camera and distract the other participants.

4. Lunch malfunctions

Save the sushi for after your video call. (Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Sometimes, a lunchtime video call is unavoidable and you may have to eat while on camera. (However, I would only recommend doing this on a call with a colleague with whom you have a close working relationship). If you must eat, there are some lunch choices that should certainly be avoided. You really don’t want to be looking like a mess while you handle unwieldy sushi, soup or pasta.  A good rule of thumb is to choose a lunch that you would order on a first date. But if possible, save your snacks for before or after the meeting.

5. Side commentary snafus

If you’re on a call with other colleagues in the room, it may be tempting to reference an off-topic project or an inside joke. If the comment is not in reference to the task at hand, it shouldn‘t be said. In the same vein, all text messaging, instant messaging and emailing should be halted while on a video call. You don’t want to send the message that you’ve got better things to do.

Video conferencing mistakes can happen but in most cases, they are completely avoidable. Just remember to be considerate of all participants on a call and be aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Ever had an embarrassing moment on a video call? Tell us about it in the comment box below.

8 Responses to “Top Five Video Conferencing Faux Pas and How to Avoid Them”

  1. David Temple

    Great article Jacey. I’m new to all this video conferencing so I don’t have an embarrassing moment on a video call yet…… but I’m sure my time will come. Hopefully these tips can help me deter that moment for as long as possible.

    • Zachary Flanagan

      Oh it will come David! We record and stream a lot of our calls and I’m telling you every time we pause I always end up with the most akward look on my face!

  2. Ian Lewis

    In a Video conference the far end room is often a boardroom in a very wide angle shot – this makes you feel you are a long way from the participants at the far end – especially if they sit at the far end of the table. One of our clients made the mistake of thinking that meant a whispered aside woudn’t be heard at the far end.
    That is not the case the audio pickup means that even a whisper can be heard clearly at the far end – use the mute if you must comment ‘off mic’.

  3. Charlie Yoon

    Beware of the mute button! Many video participants mute/unmute frequently during a video call. Make 100% sure that you are muted before you make any comments that you’ll regret.

    • joverton

      Amen to that! We’ve all been in that unfortunate situation more than we’d like to admit!

  4. Richard Blandford

    Hi Jacey,

    You should also put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door or make everyone in the office aware that you’re engaged in a conference call. The last thing you want is for one of your colleagues to burst in pie-eyed after a ‘long lunch’!


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