With more lockdowns and tighter restrictions looming on the horizon, a return to face-to-face meetings in packed boardrooms still seems a long way away. As such, video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are likely to keep dominating our everyday working lives for months to come. We line up some handy tips on how best to communicate over the internet to avoid things getting lost in translation.
Video conferencing tools have been vital during lockdown, but not everyone knows how to make the most of them. As a result, clips showing embarrassing misinterpretations and people doing weird things after failing to turn their camera and audio off have been widely circulated.
When we meet in person, we rely heavily on non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language, but on video calls, these cues are much harder to read. Here are some tips and tricks for how best to communicate over video conferencing platforms so that the next few months can be… well, less embarrassing for everybody.
Muting is no crime
During the first lockdown, not everyone knew how to mute themselves, and as a result, a person coughing would make the video switch to them while someone else was speaking. You’d be forgiven for losing your train of thought when this happens, but getting to know the platform, taking your time to set it up properly, and testing the sound can help to avoid disruptions.
The importance of body language
Body language is always important, but even more so on video conferencing platforms when the person you’re talking to isn’t actually sitting in front of you. Experts emphasise the importance of finding the middle ground between sitting too close to the screen and sitting too far away, and making sure that others can see your hand gestures, which can help with communicating ideas. Definitely avoid attempting to balance a laptop on your knees – find a good chair instead. A simple nod here and there can help to show that you’re fully present and really listening.
Embracing the slow way
Taking it slow is a good thing generally, and that’s also the case with regards to video conferences. When we speak to somebody in person, we instinctively know when it’s our turn to speak. During video calls, however, which are susceptible to time lags, we need to take our time to keep the conversation flowing and natural. Key tips: avoid rushing, speak clearly without shouting, and try to raise your hand from time to time to politely indicate if you want to add something.
Live interpretation and using video conferencing like a pro
To make communicating across national borders easier, many video conferencing platforms now also offer clever translation and interpretation services that can easily be added to your call. On Zoom, for example, users can engage in real-time multilingual conversations with others thanks to a translation app. The platform even offers proper language interpretation in meetings and webinars. When enabling the language interpretation feature, meeting hosts can choose participants as their interpreters. These interpreters then provide their own audio channel for the language they are translating into, and attendees of the webinar or meeting can select the audio channel that works best for them. Pretty handy, right? Learn to do video calls like a pro, and your message will never get lost in translation again!