Dear Miss Manners – Vain in Vermont

by Miss Manners, Queen of Video Conferencing Etiquette

Dear Miss Manners,

My company just installed a video conferencing endpoint in my office so I can communicate with international clients. Everything is great – the quality looks fantastic, the sound is crystal clear and it is extremely to use. The only problem is me. I can’t keep my eyes off of myself. When I look at myself on the display, I have this constant urge to use it as a mirror. I notice every little detail – how my lipstick is fading, my flyaway frizzy hair, the tiny mustard stain on my blouse – everything. I just can’t seem to stop and it is beginning to interfere with my work. Please help!

–          Vain in Vermont

Dearest Vain,

Oh darling, it sounds as if you are an opera singer: “me, me, me, me”! Because many of us are not accustomed to the superior quality of today’s high-end video conferencing systems (hello HD), it is not difficult to understand why you might be tempted to use your display as a mirror. With such sharp resolution, it is almost impossible not to notice the tiniest of details.

Since I am the connoisseur of courtesy, I do have a few tips to share with you.

Configure your display settings so you are only able to see the other person on the call.

1. Fiddle with your video system to see if there are different display settings. For example, on LifeSize endpoints, it is possible to just see the person you are speaking with rather than a split screen of the two of you.

2. Try to focus ever-so-intently on the conversation at hand. As I am sure you know, it is quite improper to be paying attention to yourself while another person is speaking. Since HD video communication is so lifelike, try to apply the same etiquette on video calls as you would in your everyday life. Good manners are essential to show someone that you have respect for them.

3. Place all of your grooming tools across the room before you dial-in to a video call. If they are out of reach, you will be less tempted to use them during your meeting. Only keep things close to you that are pertinent to the meeting.

I know it is difficult to not want to primp and powder when you see yourself. But please remember that true beauty lies within. The person on the other end of the video call may not recognize your inner beauty if you are too concerned with the outer.

Remember, during VCs, always mind your P’s and Q’s.

–          MM

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