7 Ways to Better Contribute During Video Calls

Master video call communication and stand out at work! Learn simple strategies to be more effective, engaged, and professional in online meetings

Key Takeaways

  • Virtual Meetings Are the Future: Video calls and virtual conferences are here to stay, so mastering video call communication is a must-have career skill.
  • Preparation is key: Test your tech, have an agenda, and gather talking points before getting on a call.
  • Active participation matters: Engage with the speaker, ask questions, and use virtual platform tools effectively.
  • Body language speaks volumes: Sit straight, use positive gestures, and avoid multitasking.
  • Minimize distractions: Choose a quiet background, mute when not speaking, and dress professionally.
  • Think about others: Respect time zones, avoid screen-sharing mishaps, and cultivate an inclusive environment.
  • Upskill with Unmudl: Advance your remote work skills further with Unmudl courses designed to build communication confidence and a strong professional presence.
Master video call communication and stand out at work! Learn simple strategies to be more effective, engaged, and professional in online meetings

Whether you're a seasoned remote worker or adjusting to a hybrid work model, video calls have become the norm rather than the exception. 

But let's face it, they can be a bit awkward. Staring at yourself while trying to have a productive conversation can be draining and frustrating.

But it doesn't have to be that way! Video calls just require a different set of protocols than in-person interactions. You can smoothly adapt to this medium with a few simple strategies. 

Contributing better during video calls enhances your visibility within the team, facilitates better communication, and helps the entire team be more productive. 

Let’s dive into 7 ways to improve  your video conference skills and stand out at work –– all from the comfort of your living room.

video calling
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Why Should I Focus on Video Call Communication?

The truth is that video calls are here to stay. These digital meetings are crucial for maintaining team unity, ensuring project alignment, and fostering a collaborative environment. 

Video calls can also be important for a personal sense of connection and well-being during periods of remote or hybrid work. According to a study by Buffer, a small majority (52%) of people who started working remotely due to the pandemic feel less connected to their coworkers.

Effective participation in video calls helps mitigate potential negative feelings and takes down communication barriers––for both speakers and listeners.

Contributing well in video conferences positions you as an engaged and committed team member. It can influence your professional image positively, help you deliver better web presentations, and impact performance evaluations and advancement opportunities. 

With the rising success of remote work, it’s clear that virtual meeting skills will be valuable long-term assets. 

Mastering Communication During Video Calls

Mastering professional communication in a new medium can be tough –– even if you regularly make video calls in your personal life. But, just like any skill, apply yourself and you can master it.

We’ve assembled 7 key strategies and tips to help you ace your video calls.

1. Get the Tech Sorted

Nothing derails a video call faster than a faulty microphone or choppy internet. 

But there are several solutions to counter this. Before you hop on that important meeting, a simple tech check can prevent common issues like audio delays or connectivity problems.

  • Test your gear: Make sure your webcam, headset, and microphone are working properly and producing a clear picture and sound.
  • Optimize your internet: Close unnecessary programs that eat up your bandwidth and try to connect directly to your router for the strongest signal. A reliable internet connection is non-negotiable.
  • Light it right: Avoid sitting with a bright light source behind you. Instead, position yourself so you're well-lit from the front to avoid looking like a shadowy mystery caller.
  • Invest, if needed: Good quality peripherals, such as a high-definition webcam and noise-canceling microphone, can significantly enhance your audio-visual presence.
different electronic devices

2. Prepare & Share the Agenda Beforehand

Preparation can transform an ordinary meeting into a highly productive session.

Prepare the agenda, any relevant documents, and a few talking points or questions before the call. This ensures everyone is on the same page and understands the meeting's purpose and objectives for a structured discussion. 

While drafting the agenda, consider asking participants to contribute points they believe should be discussed to make the session more collaborative.

In an interview with Forbes, Dr Steven G Rogelberg – a leading figure in Organizational Science, Management, and Psychology, notes that “typically, agendas are structured as a set of topics to be addressed”. 

Instead, he proposes “framing your agenda as a set of questions to be answered”.  

Taking the lead in setting effective agendas demonstrates your commitment and readiness to contribute. It also helps other participants be more prepared. 

If sharing the agenda is someone else’s responsibility, you can always give suggestions and prepare for your side of the discussion.

3. Participate & Engage Actively

Active participation goes beyond verbal contributions. It includes being mentally present and visibly engaged

While it's tempting to try to squeeze in a few quick emails while listening to a presentation, multitasking makes you a bad listener and a less engaged participant. Give your full attention to the video call –– just as you would in a physical meeting room.

Engage actively in the conversation, but be mindful of not interrupting or speaking over others. 

A study on conversational flow from the University of Groningen showed that 'turn-taking' is crucial as it gives participants an increased sense of personal value

This can be difficult on video calls, making thoughtful participation even more valuable. Occasionally paraphrasing or summarizing what others have said can reinforce your engagement and understanding of the discussion.

You can also engage better by making the most of the unique features offered by video conferencing platforms. Built-in chat functions can facilitate sharing links and documents or asking quick questions without interrupting the flow of the conversation.

4. Be Aware of Your Body Language

Active listening goes beyond simply staying quiet while someone speaks. This is where your body language steps in.

Your non-verbal cues translate even through a screen. While it might be impossible to never fidget, be mindful of your posture and facial expressions.

Forbes advises that science-based, body language habits can help master video conferencing. Using affirmative gestures like nodding and maintaining an upright posture can convey attentiveness. It encourages a more lively and interactive session for all. 

Tips:

  • Sit up straight: Not only does it show you're engaged and focused, but it can also affect how we think about ourselves.
  • Use positive gestures: A nod, a smile, and the occasional thumbs-up show that you're listening and affirming what's being discussed.
  • Avoid distracting behaviors: Constant hair twirling, chewing gum, or playing with objects pull attention away from what you're saying.
a person on a video call

5. Minimize Background Distractions 

A professional and distraction-free background helps everyone focus during a video call, whereas a chaotic one diverts attention away from the conversation. 

The right background sets the tone for the call. While a hilarious Zoom background might be fun for casual calls with friends, it's wise to choose a professional setting for work meetings.

  • Keep it clean: A tidy bookcase or a neutral wall works in a pinch.
  • Blur it out: Most video call platforms allow you to blur your background for a more polished look.
  • Virtual background: If you're short on space, a relevant virtual background can be a good option. Stick with something simple and professional to keep the focus on you.

Background distractions also include noise.

We all love our furry friends, but the sound of your dog barking or your neighbor mowing their lawn can be highly distracting. A Zippia survey found that employees reported people with loud background noises as the second-most annoying thing about virtual meetings. 

Finally, remember to mute yourself when you're not speaking. This shows respect to your colleagues and helps the conversation flow.

6. Best Practices for Professional Video Calls

Here are a few additional pointers about good video call etiquette:

  • Be Mindful of Time Zones: When scheduling video calls with colleagues in different locations, be considerate of time zones. Offer alternative times if necessary to ensure everyone can participate effectively. Also, consider asynchronous meetings whenever possible to accommodate people in different time zones. 
  • Dress for Success (At least From the Waist Up!): While sweatpants might feel tempting, dressing professionally (at least on top) can boost your confidence and project a polished image.
  • Join on Time: Respect everyone's time by joining the call promptly. If you're running late, send a quick message to the organizer.
  • Anticipate Distractions: Let others know if you anticipate an interruption (need to grab a glass of water, for example). This minimizes disruption and shows respect for your colleagues' time.
  • Be Wary of Screen Sharing Mishaps: Double-check that you're only sharing the intended screen before initiating a screen share.
two people working with laptops

7. Focus on Human Connection & Cultivating an Inclusive Environment

At the end of the day, all forms of communication rely on connecting with others as fellow humans. Video conferences and meetings are no different.

Inclusivity is a great first step toward this. It can lead to more comprehensive discussions and innovative solutions. When all attendees feel encouraged enough to participate, especially those who may be quieter or less inclined to speak up, you foster a more democratic and creative environment. 

You could make it a point to invite feedback or ideas from everyone and acknowledge contributions to make all participants feel valued.

Video calls don't have to be the watered-down version of in-person meetings. They may feel different but you should still:

  • Build relationships: Harvard Business Review suggests scheduling unstructured time for collaboration, from virtual coffee breaks to happy hours with colleagues. This can help bring a remote team together.
  • Network strategically: Despite being connected virtually, you should still take the time to connect individually with a colleague you haven't met or send a message to follow up on a point that interests you.
  • Show your personality: Don't be afraid to let a little bit of your personality shine through––in a professional way, of course!

Transform Your Career with Unmudl!

Communicating effectively during video calls is one of the many valuable remote and hybrid work skills required today.

Unmudl offers a variety of courses designed to help you develop your communication skills, build confidence, and project a strong professional presence online.

But if working remotely isn’t for you, there are plenty of other career paths to choose from –– and you could be job-ready for them in a matter of weeks!

Explore Unmudl’s Skills-to-Jobs Marketplace today and get started on the path to a fulfilling career!

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