How to master video conference calls

Video Conference Calls

More and more, businesses have a growing number of employees and customers from around the world which is leading to the increased use of video conferencing. Video conferencing is not only making communications channels easier for businesses but it also saving time and money.

Video conferencing is the next best thing to meeting someone in person and allows participants to see facial expressions, body language and product demonstrations. Video conferencing is quickly becoming a business standard and is an integral part of business communications today.

Even-though you are no longer meeting face-to-face does not mean that it is slacker time. Normal meeting etiquette needs to he adhered to in addition to some additional courtesies.

Here are some of the best practices and etiquette tips you should observe during conference calls:

Test and make sure your systems work – It is important to test and make sure that all conferencing systems function and work properly prior to the meeting. This could mean the downloading of software or app, and making sure that it runs smoothly on your device, browser and operating system.

Stage your room – Make sure that the room you are holding the conference is tidy and that no inappropriate displays or items are visible. If you work from home, don’t hold a conference call from your bed.

Introduce yourself – If you in a group call without video, it is important to introduce yourself before you talk so that others know who is talking.

Check your audio – Not only is your image quality important, make sure that you have good audio quality. For best audio quality, it is best to use headset to minimize broadcasting ambient noises.

Video setting – Make sure to test and adjust any video setting for best quality. Make sure that your camera is not too low or too high. The camera should be at eye level.

Dress for the office – It is best to wear conservative colors and styles given that others have to view you on a screen. Remember that everything is bigger and bolder on video. Dress as if you are going to a job interview.

Provide the correct details – Make sure that you provide all conference participants simple, clear and correct details and instructions before the meeting and request that each participants set up and test their equipment.

Do not multitask – Never check or reply to your email messages. There is nothing worse than hearing someone typing during a video conference. Not only is this impolite and unprofessional, it also disturbs the conference call hearing your fingers tapping away at the keyboard. Remember that

Adequate lighting – Natural light is best for video conferencing but a well-place light can do the trick. Avoid backlighting such as a window or lamp behind you.

Stay focused – Since you are on camera, it is sometimes easier to let your focus wander given that you are not face-to-face. Think of yourself as being a news presenter with the whole world watching everything you do and say. Turn off your cellphone and never place it on the table.

Keep noises to minimum – Extraneous noise can impact the call quality as well as distract those participating. Close all doors and if you are working from home, make sure that everyone in your household knows that you are on a conference call and should not disturb you, especially if you have children running around.

Take note of your presentation skills – When it is your turn to speak, make sure that you speak with a clear voice and always look into the camera rather than looking at yourself on the screen in the little window. Think of the camera as your coworker and maintain eye contact at all times and be aware of your body language.

Mute your microphone – When you are not speaking, it is best to mute your microphone even if you are alone in the room to avoid any background noise and distractions.

Staff meeting etiquette, rules and no no’s

Staff meeting rules

We live and work in a time where we are all busy and focused on our own lives, however, we still need to find the time for staff and business meetings. Most people dread work meeting but you are required to attend from time to time. No matter what you opinion about staff meetings, it is important to conduct yourself in a respectful and professional manner.

Given the negative attitude towards meetings, sometimes people forget the basic etiquette and rules that are required when attending even when they are surrounded by coworkers, managers, bosses, and even clients. Yes, it is sometimes difficult to remember all the meeting you need to attend and being able to find the time to prep for the meetings.

What makes things worse is when a colleague forgets their manners and make common staff meeting mistakes. Here are few  a common no-no’s and staff meeting mistakes.

Avoid multi-tasking – Don’t bring other work that is not related to the meeting topics being discussed. Leave all other works for another time.

Avoid side conversations – It is simply impolite and downright rude to hold a side conversation while a fellow employee is trying to conduct a meeting.

Stay until the end – If you have another important engagement and planning on leaving a meeting early, it is best to let everyone know at the start of your prior commitments and need to leave early.

Show up or call – If you are unable to attend a meeting for any reason, it is common courtesy to call or let someone know that you will not be able to attend the meeting and offer your apologies.

Never interrupt others – When someone is talking, pay attention and listen.

Avoid all forms of bickering – It does not matter how irritating your co-workers can be, never get into a verbal shouting match in a staff meeting. It is extremely unprofessional and awkward for all those attending the meeting.

Never hijack or change the agenda – If you disagree with the meeting agenda or feel that there is something else that should be discussed, then it is best to voice your feelings at the start of the meeting. Respect those who called for the meeting and are in charge of the meeting.

Do your pre-meeting prep work – Always come prepared to a meeting. Make sure you know what is being discussed at the meeting and prepare yourself so that you can add value to the meeting and topics on hand.

Never compare resumes – One of the most unprofessional and tackiest things a person can do in a meeting is to pull rank on a co-worker.

Leave you lunch at your desk – Unless you are going to a breakfast, lunch or dinner meeting, avoid all forms of food and eating doing a meeting.

Don’t ask people to repeat themselves – Always stay focused and pay attention to hat others are saying and avoid having to ask people to repeat themselves because you spaced out during the meeting.

Make sure to introduce everyone – If you are leading a meeting and aware that not every participant knows each other, then it is important at the start of the meeting to briefly introduce everyone.

Keep your phone on silent – It is best to keep your mobile off the table and place your ringtone on vibrate. There is nothing worse having someone’s phone ring in the middle of a meeting, especially if it is your boss leading the meeting.

Time management – Always arrive at least 5 minutes before the scheduled start of every meeting. Be concise when you are talking and understand that everyone in the meeting has other commitments to attend to so never ramble on.

Stand up and greet others – When you are meeting someone new, have the respect to stand up and shake their hands and greet them.

Be aware of what you order – If you are attending a meeting over a meal, it is important to aware of what you order to eat and always watch you table manners.

Don’t sneeze and shake – Never sneeze in your hand and then offer to shake someone else’s hand. This is simply disgusting.

Watch the clock – Always be on time and end meeting on time and give respect to others and their other work commitments.

Don’t fall asleep – This is self-explanatory. IF you feel that you will not mange to stay awake then have cup of strong coffee , a chocolate, or energy drink before the meeting.

Life skills everyone should learn and know

Basic Life Skills

It is not surprising how many students leave the comfort of their parents home lacking the basic knowledge and skills of day-to-day life because they have always relied on their parents.

There are certain life skills that every child needs to be taught before they leave the secure and sheltered nest of their parents. We are not born with the knowledge of being able to take of ourselves, and you would be shocked by how many young adults need help and assistance with the most basic life skills.

This is in no way an insult on the intelligence of young adults. Just because you are no longer in school does not mean you have all the ruined life skills. It is alarming to how many students lack basic life skills because they have always relied on their parents to take care of them.

Some skills are handy while others are essential and can make the lives of any young adult easier. Here is a list of some (not all) useful life skills every high school student should before leaving the comforts and protection of home.

Home and personal care skills

How to use basic kitchen appliances.
How to wash and dry clothing.
How to clean a house including toilets, bathrooms and floors.
How to contribute to the running of a household.
How to shop for food and groceries.
How to cook basic meals.
How to clean up after yourself.

Life management skills

How to create a budget.
How to earn and manage money.
How to organize and keep financial records.
How to use a credit card responsibly and avoid debt.
How to manage and take care of personal taxes.
How to talk to strangers.
How to navigate and find your way around.
How to handle interpersonal problems.
How to cope with the ups and downs of life.
How to be resilient.
How to demonstrate good table manners.
How to respect your parents and elders.
How manage mange anger.
How to live within your means.

Student-Specific Skills

How to manage assignments, workload, and meet deadlines.
How to research and register for classes.
How to make clear and readable notes in class.
How to write an essay.
How to speak in public.
How to take a test.
How to maintain a healthy balance between academic and social life.

Professional skills

Ability to write resume.
Ability to handle a job interview.
Ability to draft a cover letter.
Ability to search for a job.
Ability to handle rejection.
Ability to network effectively.
Ability to make a good first impression.
Ability to persuade others.
Ability to be able to listen consciously.
Ability to communicate in clear and assertive manner.
Ability to get along with others and interpersonal skills.
Ability to learn basic time management skills.
Ability to set life and career goals.

General Conscientiousness

Ability to be aware of one’s surroundings.
Ability to see and recognize a potential dangerous situation.
Ability and knowledge to avoid drugs and alcohol.
Ability to be sexually responsible.
Ability to say in a respectful way.
Ability to ask for help.
Ability to start a conversation.
Ability to accept constructive criticism.
Ability to make effective decision.
Ability to take risks.
Ability to apologize.
Ability to change a tire on a car.
Ability to use a first aid kit.
Ability to give the Heimlich maneuver.
Ability to be honest.
Ability to be patient.

Simple ways to avoid killing your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn Etiquette

LinkedIn professional social network provides many examples as to how it can, has, and does open doors and connection for many job seekers. LinkedIn, unlike Twitter and Facebook, is a professional social platform; and if used strategically can help any job seeker with referrals, introductions, and recommendations.

LinkedIn is a professional social media network to make professional connections and the best way for any job seeker to market themselves and build a personal brand. There is no need to create personal websites to show your professional accomplishments. The more connections you have, the more visible your profile will be. The same goes for the followers you have.

However, if you do not manage and maintain your account and profile correctly, it could lead to many brand-damaging mistakes and destroy your profile’s effectiveness if you are job seeker, looking to build your business or wanting to grow your network and credibility in the professional social media arena.

Here are a few tips and words of advise as to how you can increase the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile:

Your LinkedIn profile photo – There is no need to hire an expensive photographer to take a photo of you, but you do need to have a photo. Take a pleasant head and shoulder photo to get people interested in reading the rest of your profile.

Your Headline – It could be said that the most important elements of your profile is a combination of your name, headline and photo. It it these three elements that will be visible when a person does a search of the LinkedIn database and views the results. Make your headline count explaining your function, industry, or currents goals, for example and make your headline stand out.

Your profile summary – The summary is a brief story about your career and space to tell the world what you want them know about you.

Your job descriptions – Your current and past jobs should be a story about your career path and should gain the interest of people reading your profile. You need to figure out your career path story or else it will just be a list of company names and job titles.

Recommendations – The most effective way to get recommendations from your connections is to take the time and leave recommendations of others. Remember only your first-degree connections can leave recommendations. When writing recommendations try to be specific with your words. Recommendations are one of the best functions of your LinkedIn profile because they are personal.

Your LinkedIn activity – Creating a profile, profile summary, and job descriptions is not enough. You need to be active on the LinkedIn network or else your account profile will just languish and make it clear to anyone who visits your profile page. You need to interact with others in order to cultivate and reinforce your network. To do this you could join a group and get involved in the conversations and leave comments on other user’s blog posts or even write and publish your articles.

Your network – Your network and connections plays a big part or your personal brand and persona. Some people create LinkedIn connections carefully, while others accept invitations from any stranger. Take the time and think about how you want to use your connections.

Your inbox – Your LinkedIn inbox is the ways other users can reach and connect with you directly. Always stay on top of inbox and you will see how your profile will succeed and provide gratification.

Your personal brand – Like it or not, every LinkedIn user has a personal brand. Your stories, career history, profile summary, videos, images, all provide a cohesive picture of who are for other readers to understand you better and your mission.

One of the most important things about social media is that there are no hard and fast rules. It is what you make of it and all about the effort and time you put in. LinkedIn provides a professional platform for you to connect, network and improve your career. It is a social media platform to provide a first impression so take the time and make your profile count.

How to build and develop your personal brand

Personal Branding

In the past, the term branding has always been associated and linked to companies. However, given technology and social media, the playing field has changed and almost every individual has a personal brand. You might not be aware but most people have a digital print but not consciously cultivated these brands.

Today it is not about if you have a personal brand, rather how you are going to guide and cultivate the brand. Your personal brand is how you appear to the world. When people get to know who you are and identify you with a specific skill or expertise, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the go-to person in your niche or industry.

Building your personal brand helps to open many professional opportunities. Creating a vision for your future and implementing this vision can lead a better job, expanded network, industry recognition, and more.

Here are few ways you can start building or expand your personal brand:

Think of yourself as a brand – Ask how you would like people to associate with you when they mention your name. How do want to be perceived?

Create an authentic personal brand and image – Your brand should be a reflection of who you are. Do you know what you believe? What you stand for? What your strengths and weaknesses are?

Undertake an online audit – Go through your social media profiles and make sure everything is current and up-to-date. Cultivating a strong personal brand is just as much about being responsive to what is being said as it is about creating intellectual property.

Buy a personal domain – Having your own personal domain is probably one of the best ways to rank you name on search engines. This can be 2 to 3 pages with your resume.

Speaking engagements – Speaking on a regular basis is an excellent way to build your brand and network. Speak from a place of knowledge and make sure you know what you’re talking about, and answer questions in a way that serves your audience.

Add value to your product – Look for ways to add value to any conversation and audience with fresh, creative content that lines up with your brand.

Share your thoughts and ideas with purpose – Remember, every tweet, social update, picture your share, all contribute to your brand.

Create a public slideshare – To demonstrate your thought-leadership you can create presentation expressing your point of view. Slideshare’s allow you upload your valuable content and make it available to your audience.

Continuing education – Identify a skill that you would like to learn or improve and commit to a plan to develop the skill.

Join an online group and conversation – To connect with other professionals and expand your network, you can join a LInkedIn group

Get recommendations and endorsements – Ask your supervisor, manager, or boss to write a recommendation and validate your skills and expertise.

Create a personal video – Create a personal video outlining who you are is a very powerful vehicle for building your brand.