Considering the hundreds of thousands of years that humans have been doing business with one another, conducting a deal or partnership over video chat is a new development that many companies are still getting used to. Though best practices continue to change and develop as quickly as the technology itself, systems like VoIP and business phone services are revolutionizing the way travel budgets and long-distance meetings are conducted. If you're new to the video conferencing game, here are some basic tips to use cloud services to your organization's advantage.
Though video conferencing may seem more casual on the surface, it's just as important to look one's best when connecting with a business from a distance. This will show that your company is determined to present the very best its service has to offer. Making a good impression also includes timeliness - though being late to a video conference doesn't mean that a participant is rushing into the room with papers flying, it does look extremely unprofessional to leave a potential client waiting on the line.
Technology blog The Next Web published an article on how to appear professional in a video chat, and reminded users that lighting can be a major factor your client could be distracted by instead of listening to your well-thought-out pitch.
"Never, ever, ever assume that the radiant light coming from your computer's monitor is 'good enough' for your video chat," writer Dan Taylor told businesses. "If you've done more than a few video chats, you can always tell exactly who's making this assumption."
An easy fix is to ensure that the room you are conferencing in has ample natural and artificial light, so that no computer screen glare makes those participating appear pasty and unprepared.
Of course, one of the most useful marketing strategies for small business is to merely be ready for any and all questions or concerns a client may have, and to have a thorough knowledge of the service you offer. Cloud services and paperless document management can be extremely helpful in sharing this knowledge with a fellow video chatter in a quick, professional manner - having a shared agenda, slideshow or video presentation to accompany the visual conference can only help an organization stand out against the competition.
Finally, ensure that your internet connection is secure and running at optimum speed before proceeding into the throes of an important pitch or negotiation. There's no worse impression to make than a faulty connection or clipped audio during a video conference, so ensure that you've chosen a reliable internet for small businesses provider before going forward with integrating video conferencing into day-to-day operations.
Keep unnecessary distractions out of the boardroom
Just because your company has saved a great deal of money in business expenses, that doesn't give any level of management the excuse to forfeit the appearance of complete and total professionalism and focus on the customer. Having a solid agenda will be a huge advantage when utilizing business phone services and video conferencing, but be aware of the environment in which you are conducting the meeting, as well. A good rule of thumb is to set up a meeting room the same way you would if a client were traveling hundreds of miles to join you.
Industry blog Successful Meetings recently reported on some of the most disastrous video conferencing techniques, based on true stories. Especially when a video conference is being conducted remotely from one's home, it's important to keep professionalism at the front of one's mind. Some obvious indicators that the conductor of a meeting isn't fully invested in the call is the appearance of children or pet interruptions.
"For some, pets provide a comforting presence during a video conference call, but chances are they're just distracting everyone else from the topic of discussion," Successful Meetings writer Eric Vidal explained. "To prevent any frustration, make sure to keep them out of view."
The unfortunate truth is that even if cloud services and other small business solutions are used extremely well during a video conference, something as simple as an insistent dog bark or inappropriate snacking can spoil the larger efforts of an organization and potentially soil client-provider relations.
Interact and make eye contact with the client
It's easy to become confused by an agenda or other activities on a computer during a business call, but video conferencing demands that a human connection be made to establish trust between parties. Because a long-distance phone connection isn't required when using VoIP or video conferencing services, be sure to take your time and listen to your client's concerns, making an effort to hold eye contact and even sharing an anecdote or joke to lighten the often suffocating meeting environment. When conducted correctly, video conferencing saves money and builds a positive relationship that can turn into revenue.