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Joe Szynkowski: How to navigate a successful video call
Column | WorkHappy

Joe Szynkowski: How to navigate a successful video call

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If you find yourself working from home these days, you’re likely spending a lot of your time lately on Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, GoToMeeting or Skype.

Some of these video conferencing platforms are reporting 1,000% growth since the COVID-19 pandemic began rocking our work worlds earlier this year. This has left many professionals reporting 1,000% frustration with having to be online around the clock now.

Companies are implementing daily video chats to keep employees accountable and projects moving forward. These remote video calls are allowing for at least some form of “face-to-face” collaboration during a time when we physically can’t be together, but they come with plenty of challenges for professionals working from home.

I have worked from home since 2013, but have never seen companies turn to video conferencing with such consistency like they are today. If and when the coronavirus runs its course, I expect to see continued reliance on online platforms for collaboration and team syncing with remote employees who typically aren’t in the office.

Basically, we should all be working on our video conferencing skills because they’re going to be needed for the rest of our professional lives.

Here are a few ways to make sure you have good video call etiquette for your next team meeting. And yes, wearing pajama pants is completely acceptable as long as you’re confident you won’t have to stand up during your meeting.

Test — and know — your equipment

“Joe, you’re on mute.”

“Joe, we still can’t hear you.”

“Joe, we see your mouth moving but no sound is coming out.”

How many times have you seen this scenario unfold during a video call? It’s critical that you know how to use your online platform. This includes understanding where the mute button is. When you start using video conferencing software, you’ll likely be hit with pop-ups asking you to authorize the download, enable the video and allow access to your microphone.

Don’t just blindly click through these options. Doing so can leave you without sound or without the ability to speak during your meetings. And no one wants to be “that guy.”

Analyze — and understand — your audience

Working from home means working around your pets and kids. And while everyone loves seeing your dog and kiddos on camera, not every meeting is ideal for this type of interruption. 

A talk about fourth-quarter financial planning, for example, is not a great time for your Labradoodle to jump into your lap, whereas an end-of-week cocktail meeting with your team might be the perfect setting.

Treat every meeting with respect but recognize which gatherings are more serious — and act accordingly.

Schedule your meetings — and show up on time

Leaders of companies should always have respect for their employees’ time. Never start a spontaneous video call without warning. People can’t stand this! There is a reason people don’t answer unscheduled FaceTime calls. They like to know when and where they’ll be expected to be on video.

If you see the need for a meeting, send a quick chat message or email to offer a heads up. Once you get the OK, then feel free to start the meeting.

Remember that you’re taking up time that your colleagues and clients could be using for other tasks, so keep unscheduled meetings to a minimum.

As we transition to a more video calls, these best practices will be important for us to implement into our daily work lives — whether or not you decide to wear pajama pants.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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