clownVirtual meetings help companies conduct business in a variety of different ways.  They make communication easier with people who could be anywhere in the world, they make it easier to have meetings with larger groups of people, and they make it easier for you to totally embarrass yourself in front of large groups of people from all around the world.  An article in The Wall Street Journal (sub. required) told some amusing stories of people who became the laughingstock of the office for weeks because of their video blunders.  One executive scratched himself somewhat inappropriately during a video meeting, unaware that it would be seen by the camera and the large number of employees on the other end. 

Public embarrassment is bad, but these high-tech mistakes could have worse consequences.  The article presents another story in which a candidate for a job was being interviewed via video conferencing.  For the entire interview, the candidate, who appeared to be dressed in a suit, was sitting down.  At the end of the interview he stood up and showed that he was actually wearing the top half of a suit with jeans.  This made the interviewer question his judgment and may have resulted in a decision not to hire him. 

The main point of this article – become familiar with the technology before you use it!  Practice for the presentation, conference, or interview ahead of time, and make sure that you know how you will appear.  This is important because the things that can embarrass you the most are probably the simplest things that you don’t even think about.   The article tells the tale of one vice president who was giving a presentation to a half dozen people when an instant message appeared on the screen that read, “I love you teddy bear.” Needless to say, the word got around the office quickly and he is currently known as Teddy Bear.

videotips Aside from becoming familiar with the technology, the most important thing to remember is that you should act the same way in a video meeting as you would in a face-to-face meeting. Some things that you may not think would appear on the other end may be caught, and with the ability to pause and rewind, they could have nasty consequences. 

Here are a few tips recommended by the Wall Street Journal. 

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