The Etiquette of Online Conferencing
Courtesy in the Age of Videoconferencing
A few weeks ago, we got a special behind-the-scenes look at the media service provider- Laudert. In addition to our conversations on the obvious recent changes to on-site and live events, we also discussed that our how much our business communication channels have changed so dramatically.
In this interview, we speak with Anne Lück and Thorsten Hamann from Laudert about etiquette of video conferencing, which has taken on so much more importance in the last year.
1. The right microphone and handling:
[...] “Another issue is a kind of 'conference call etiquette'. When we are on a video or conference call with several people, obviously not everybody can speaking at the same time. During such calls, it is a matter of simple politeness that one does not use default notebook speakers and microphone, but rather use a headset or at least a dedicated external microphone.
These days are many people who spend more than 6 hours a day using a headset. I don't do it because I enjoy it, but because it is incredibly annoying or even exhausting, for oneself as well as for others, to listen to crosstalk for hours or not be able to hear clearly. There is no substitute for the sound quality of a good headset.”
“The issue of etiquette and discipline became clear extremely quickly. When I think about the first day when we had a first short-notice team leader meeting on Teams, something was only raised if there was a really urgent question. Otherwise, the microphones were muted. In part, that led to confusion and less feedback, simply because everyone was so disciplined and only relevant things were voiced.
Also, for speakers giving our webinars, who were more used to speaking in front of an audience and seeing the direct response from the audience, speaking into an empty room was a huge adjustment.”
2. Take time for the meeting:
Part of the new etiquette is that people don't do something on the side during a meeting. In an in person meeting, if someone is doing something on the side, then the speaker can respond to that. On a conference call, everyone is muted and then you don't even see or hear it. So it can often happen that someone doesn't catch half of the conversation, jumps in at a completely different point and thus doesn't understand the point. Then topics have to be repeated and everything is looked at again from a completely different angle, although it was already done.
This again demonstrates the need for a certain politeness, because it is usually part of a conversation or discussion that you try to keep your mind on the matter and not get distracted.
3. Choosing to show your face or not:
“Courtesy also raises the following question: Am I going to the video camera? Most of the people in our production department sit in front of several monitors and don't have webcams built in. They're not the ones who spend all day in conferences either, because they're sitting on-site at their reasonably set-up workstations. In the IT sector, we don't even talk about it; it has automatically become customary for the camera to be on when we talk to each other. Our marketing department even made us nice backgrounds for this that you can fade in.
The question of whether I turn on the video camera is also an issue with customers. You invite customers to Teams because most of them have it and because most of them are in home offices. But not everyone has a home office or study. For some, the background then consists of a kitchenette or they sit in the living room on the couch, simply because it is comfortable. There is nothing to be said against that. However, there are also customers who don't want to use their video cameras, even though they could, and that has to be okay. The issue of people doing something on the side can be picked up by the video cameras. Teams has a new update that you can see more than 4 people at the same time. So you can see if someone is doing something else at the same time and you can respond to that. Then we come to the topic of children. I have three children and Anne also has children at home, who come in between and have a question. Here it was nice to see that this was never a problem. That has made a whole other human quality in dealing with each other.”
“With the camera on or off, we have similar experiences. We have customers and partners who never have the camera on because they simply don't want it. But that also has a lot to do with how extroverted people are and whether you have a problem with being seen or how they think they’re perceived on camera.”
“In addition to the experiences of the last few months, you've taken advantage of Corona's time and expanded your offerings. What has changed for you guys?”
“We had already spun off our consulting, which previously ran as part of project management, as a separate department before Corona. The landscape of what customers are asking us to do has changed so much that we are utilizing and integrating our consulting team very well, both in IT consulting and media consulting.”
“We were able to immediately answer, "Yes!" to the question of whether we wanted to have this area separate. After all, we are a media service provider, and consulting always runs alongside it. The sales person who stands in front of the customer has already provided the first consulting services. What has become clear over the years is that at the end of a long process chain, you only make the three clicks that lead to the result. Basically, you don't sell the customer the click, but the know-how on how to set up the process in such a way that only the click is needed at the end. From our experience, both on the media side and on the IT side, this is a completely different service. How do I build out my PIM process? What is the lifecycle of the information in the company? When I take photographs, at what point does who actually make the lookbook with whom? How can I ensure that everything runs smoothly in terms of processes? We've found that customers are willing to talk about this much earlier, and that's great for the projects.”
“We now also have a new key visual that shows how the expertise in the individual business units interact. The consultants are the brackets that hold the company together and also create the exchange. Twenty years ago, we were one of the pioneers in digital printing in Germany and got off to an early start in the area of one-to-one communication, where the market was not yet ready. Now that the markets have matured in this area, we can pick up on this development, as the subject of automation and individualization in communication is becoming much more important. Our expertise in consulting is also valued here. For this reason, we have repositioned the Digital Printing unit and renamed it Print Services.
There is another issue that is also affecting the entire thing. We have recognized, also with existing customers, that there are more and more requirements to become directly involved in conceptual work. This area has been under construction for several months now, with LOFT as the creative forge, and completes the Home of Media. Traditional agencies can't handle individual and automated communication because they can't offer the process expertise, IT knowledge or implementation under one roof. We see a large niche in the market that we fill and into which we fit perfectly.”
“Thank you for your time and for the exciting interview. We are looking forward to talking to you live and without a headset at our next priint:day.”