Norm here. I use video on a daily basis and absolutely love it; although, I seem to make a lot of mistakes which can be rather embarrassing at times. Out of the goodness of my heart, I’m sharing some of these instances so you can avoid making the same mistakes. 

Yesterday, I was in the conference room for our monthly sales meeting. We were discussing the latest market trends when this new guy appears on the screen to give his thoughts. Now, not only did this guy have long blonde hair, he had his shirt unbuttoned a little too far if you know what I mean. 

So I lean over and whisper to Carl, who does this guy think he is Fabio? When I turn back, I saw a few people snickering and Dan (aka Fabio) had a really weird look on his face.

I thought to myself, could they have heard me? No way, they’re thousands of miles away and I was just whispering to Carl.  Maybe they read my lips? That seems highly unlikely – although Fabio is pretty distinct. 

Later that day, my manager calls me into his office to discuss my ‘inappropriate comment.’  Uh oh – busted. Turns out, microphones are super sensitive and can pick up even the slightest sound. Even though I was whispering, the microphone picked up my comments for every single person to hear. 

Note to self: Whispering is not really whispering on a video call.  

Anyway, the next day I called Dan over video to apologize for my behavior. I told him that sometimes I speak without really thinking and he was cool about it. He said perhaps I was just jealous because he could pull off the look and I couldn’t.  Right, that’s it.

Everyone has been on a video call where one person doesn’t quite realize you can actually see him.  Remember, while you can hide pretty much anything over an audio call; anything you say or do, can and will, be seen by everyone on a video call.  Here are a few tips to avoid being the one everyone talks about after you disconnect. 

Know you’re not invisible.

While you can get away with propping your feet up on your desk, eating your lunch or rolling your eyes at a long-winded coworker over audio – it is quite noticeable over video.    That said, make sure you’re cognizant of what you are doing and ensure your body is focused on the meeting.   Even if you’re on mute, people can see you typing away on your computer, holding a sidebar conversation or relaxing all cool in your office.  

Dress appropriately.

As fabulous as that leopard print dress or Hawaiian button down looks in the office; it can become overpowering on video.  Opt for neutral colors and basic prints to avoid being the center of attention.   On the flip side, if you work from home, put on a dress shirt for your video call.  We all understand that you have the luxury of working in your sweatpants; you don’t have to rub it in with a sweatshirt as well. 

If you’re out and about – pick a quiet place.

Advances in technology allow people to join video calls from virtually anywhere.  However, this does not mean that you should actually join a video call from anywhere.  Yes, it’s cool you’re at the beach, in a coffee house or walking through the streets of Manhattan; but, all the background noise and entertaining bystanders drown out the point of the meeting.  So save the cool backdrops for personal video calls and pick a quiet place without a bunch of people milling around. 

Have a funny story or some advice?  We want to hear it!

Leave a comment with your favorite video conferencing faux pax.