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Video Chat Etiquette - RD211

Resourceful Designer

Release Date: 04/13/2020

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Are you nervous about video chatting?

Without proper video chat etiquette, you and your design business can come off as amateurish and unprofessional. Not the impression you want to present to your clients.

I work with design clients from around the world. As such, video chatting is a practice I take for granted as part of doing business. But right now, the world is isolated at home to flatten the curve on the Coronavirus. That means that many people, perhaps yourself included, are only now discovering the intricacies of video chatting.

Allow me to share my experiences and make this new practice more comfortable for you and allow you to present yourself in the most professional manner possible.

Scheduling a call

You should always allow your client to choose a time that suits them for your video chat. However, you should dictate the times you’re available. Online scheduling software works really well for this. They show your availability and allow the client to chose the time they want to talk. Here are a few scheduling options you may want to try.

If you don’t have a calendar booking tool, email your client a range of times you are available and let them choose a time that works best for them. Be sure to let them know approximately how long the video chat will be so they can choose a time appropriately.

Once you agree on a time, add it to your calendar and set two reminders, one a couple of hours before to remind you of the upcoming call, and a second reminder five or 10 minutes before so you can get ready.

If you plan on recording the call, which I suggest you do for later referral, let your client know in advance. In most places, it’s illegal to record someone without their consent.

Your equipment

To video chat, you need a computer or a mobile device. Although most modern devices have a camera built-in, you may want to use an external camera for better quality. The same goes for the microphone. The one built into your device is acceptable for infrequent video chats. But if you plan to implement regular video chats into your routine, you will want to invest in a better microphone.

If you are using a mobile phone or tablet for your video chatting, a stand or tripod will help you keep the camera steady and at a proper hight.

The next thing to consider is your lighting. Natural light is preferable but not always available. There are several desktop options for lighting your call.

With hardware taken care of, you should next consider your software. There are numerous platforms for video chatting, including the following.

Your environment

You should video chat from a quiet, well-lit area. Before the meeting begins, make sure your lighting is in place and turned on, and turn off anything that makes noise, including washing machines, furnaces, fans, etc. Close your windows to prevent distracting noises from outside.

Examine your background. The person you are video chatting with can see what’s in your room behind you. It’s ok to have a busy background, so long as it’s not messy. If you’re unsure about your background, try hanging a drape or curtain of some sort to act as a backdrop.

Your setup

If you are using a laptop, make sure it’s plugged into a power source. Video chatting uses a lot of CPU power. If you’re running on battery, your laptop will heat up faster, and your noisy fans will run longer.

If possible, plug your computer directly into your modem or router. You want the best internet connection available, and WiFi can be unreliable when video chatting.

Close all unnecessary running software during the video chat. Some software connects periodically to the internet without your knowledge and could interfere with your connection. If you are unsure, try restarting your computer and only opening the required software.

Turn off all notifications. All those pings and beeps can distract you while video chatting.

Set your camera as close to eye level as possible. If not elevated, a laptop camera will force your guest to look up your nose.

For best sound quality, external microphones should be as close to your mouth as possible.

If you are using your phone or tablet, set it horizontally. Portrait mode is fine for Facebook and Instagram stories, but most video chatting takes place on a computer where landscape mode is preferable and professional looking.

If you plan on sharing your computer screen with your guest, clean up your computer’s desktop and close unnecessary windows.

Preparing yourself

When preparing yourself for a video chat, you should dress in the same manner you would if you were meeting your guest in person, including your grooming. Just because you are video chatting from home is not an excuse for not shaving.

Be sure to check yourself in a mirror before getting on the call. You don’t want to find out afterwards that you had food stuck in your teeth or worse.

Depending on your lighting, you may want to remove your glasses as the light reflection in your lenses can be distracting for your guests.

Conducting yourself on the video chat

When video chatting, you should act as if you were meeting the client in person. Sit up straight, don’t fidget and look directly into the camera, not the image of the person on the screen. If you’re finding it difficult to look into the camera, try minimizing the video window and placing it at the top of your monitor so that you’re looking at the person just below the camera.

Avoid looking at distractions outside your window or in other parts of the room outside of the camera’s view. Your guest can’t see what caught your attention and may feel like you are ignoring them.

If you must cough or sneeze, or make any other sound, mute your microphone beforehand.

After the video chat

It’s good practice to follow up with the person after a video chat. Send them an email thanking them for their time and outlining what you discussed.

If you recorded the video chat, save the recording in your client file for future reference. You may need to watch it later for clarification on something that was said or as proof in case of a dispute.

Conclusion

Until the Coronovirus pandemic is over, video chatting will be the norm in our industry. And who knows, once people get used to it, it may become a routine for you in the future. If you follow these suggestions, your clients will appreciate you as they come to know you as not just a professional designer, but as a business person, able to conduct themselves professionally.

What's your video chatting procedure?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.