The 5 personality types on every video conferencing call

You know that person who always types loudly on conference calls? Or the one with the dog barking in the background? Of course, you do. They’re at every meeting, in every company, every day.

Here are some of the personality types everyone seems to run into on conference calls around the world – how many do you recognise?

The person who can’t seem to find the mute button


Despite the ‘can everyone please go on mute’ request some people just don’t seem to get it. We’ve all been on calls where the unmistakable sound of a jaw biting into an apple or loud typing distracts everybody from the business at hand.

The person with the dog in the background


It’s one of the common pitfalls of working at home. Dogs can be pretty distracting, especially if it’s sitting on the lap of a coworker participating in the call. Or even if it’s just excited that the post has arrived.

Thankfully, there’s a new technology that can detect dog barking – and other unwanted background noises such as sirens – and alert you to hit that mute button.

The person who won’t turn on the video feed


Okay, we’ve all been overslept, only to realise that an important video conference starts in five minutes. So while everybody else presents their shining faces, this person knows how they look first thing in the morning, and refuses. They’ll usually participate by phone, giving some excuse like “the video isn’t working on my end”.

The one who isn’t paying attention


This person is so distracted by other things that he can’t pay attention to what’s going on. You’ll know they’ve not been listening when you ask them a question and their reply will be something like, “sorry, the connection dropped out there, could you say that again?” Yeah, right.

The loud one


This guy either doesn’t understand how volume works or thinks he’s the most important person in the room. Either way, he’s annoying.

Despite great technology and smart team members, online, virtual or video meetings can easily become a comedy or errors, thanks to – well, there is no other way to say it – normal human behavior. While there are ways to improve productivity, such as outlining expected conference call etiquette and using high-quality conferencing tools, people will always be people.

The right technology can help.

Modern online meeting tools can help keep background noise to a minimum and detect common sounds like your own typing (!), dogs and sirens.  And alert you to mute your computer.  Team collaboration features like file sharing and whiteboarding can help keep people on task and attentive, while support for multiple devices in a single meeting makes it easier for everybody to join in on time.

Thanks to Karen D Schwartz, Cisco

5 steps to better virtual meetings

There’s no question that virtual meetings bring people together, speed up decision making, and save money. Today’s virtual meetings let customers connect with your experts despite distance and help you feel like you’re in the same room as colleagues from around the world. Here are five ways to make your virtual meetings more productive and impactful. More than two-thirds of business professionals engage in virtual work. — “It’s Unclearly Defined, but Telecommuting Is Fast on the Rise,” New York Times , Mar. 2014.

1. Be authentic. Technology makes it easier to connect with others no matter the distance. But it can also feel like a barrier when it comes to building interpersonal relationships. The key is to invest a bit of time and treat people like actual people, not just voices or faces on a screen. You’ll get more participation if you follow these guidelines:

  • Greet each participant as they enter the meeting.
  • Ask about their weekend or vacation plans.
  • Don’t mute your endpoint.
  • Avoid side conversations.

2. Put technology to work. Look for collaboration solutions that are easy to use so you can focus on the meeting and not on the technology. Make sure face-to-face interaction is available through video—without it, you miss important parts of the conversation like facial expressions and nonverbal feedback. The right way to use technology:

  • Use video so you can gauge reactions.
  • Share content like presentations or interactive whiteboards to engage participants.
  • Record meetings for people who can’t be there.
  • Ensure that people can join in from any device.

3. Communicate. Meaningful communication can take many forms: one-to-one, team meetings, all-hands, and trainings. If you ask a question and hear crickets, change your tactics.

  • Address questions to specific people.
  • Encourage interaction.
  • Support two-way communication.
  • Discourage multitasking.

75% of users say video improves collaboration and productivity. — “Aiming to Increase UC Adoption? Look to Video,” Frost & Sullivan, 2014.

4. Play fair. When the meetings are international, someone is invariably attending during off hours. Giving people the option to participate from home via video provides them the advantages and flexibility of a face-to-face connection.

  • Be sensitive to time zones so the same people don’t always have to work during off hours.
  • Make it possible for people to participate from anywhere and from any device. 
  • Allow everyone the opportunity to give feedback.

5. Follow virtual meeting etiquette. Whether you’re collaborating from across the globe or just from across the office, video-enabled virtual meetings offer flexibility, consistency, and a higher level of cooperation. Think of them like traditional meetings with extra benefits.

  • Direct questions to people by name to cut confusion.
  • Use technology that can eliminate background noise.
  • Offer the flexibility that allows people to join from anywhere.
  • Use technology that helps identify who is speaking.
  • Use video for formal meetings and quick base touches

But remember that you’re talking to real people.