After making videophone calls for nearly three years, I've come up with ten tips that will help you look like a pro, even if you just started using a system last week.
1. Don't call new contacts without first calling the old-fashioned way — on the telephone. It's less intrusive.
2. Look at the camera when the other person is talking. You can't rummage around your desk when a client or colleague wants your attention.
3. If you're going to work on a document, you'll save time if you put it on the screen before you make the call.
4. Don't show a confidential document onscreen. All computer-based videoconferencing setups let the folks on the other end take a digital snapshot anytime they want — with or without your knowledge.
5. Put some art on your walls. Even if you toil in a cubicle, you don't want to look like a lowly drone in the corporate beehive or like you lack aesthetics.
6. Close the camera cover when you're not using the videophone. Recently, I called a business acquaintance and ended up in a "Candid Camera" situation, watching his secretary skulking around the office.
7. Switch off the auto answer. Once I left it on and was caught in my boxer shorts by an unexpected call. Leave the system in manual mode.
8. Keep track of the time. Video calls by their nature take nearly twice as long as telephone calls.
9. Get ISDN service. An ISDN line will significantly improve the picture.
10. Don't wave good-bye. It's an innate reaction to ending a videophone call, but it looks darn silly.
- "I See How to Work Together"
- "Troubleshooter's Guide for Ordering ISDN"
- "Show Me Your Data, Not Your Face"
A version of this article appeared in the August/September 1996 issue of Fast Company magazine.