When Conducting International Videoconference Calls, Do You Do Like the Romans Do?

May 30, 2011 5:12 am   |   Leave a Comment

A recent New York Times article, “Adapting to the Reality of Everyday Video Chatting,” which reported on the growing usage of videoconferencing, raised some interesting points about videoconferencing etiquette among business users.

  • Even if you’re conducting an international videoconference call, you should learn local customs.  For example, Judith Olsen, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, said we will need to learn new methods of business communication as face-to-face — but not person-to-person — meetings become more common. This is particularly important when conducting a videoconference call with someone living in another country.  A business traveler embarking to a new country will learn some local customs, such as to actually pay attention to a business card handed to you when in Asia — as opposed to the US practice of stuffing the card quickly into a pocket.  As Olsen noted, “We have a saying, ‘When in Rome, do as Romans.’  But if I’m videocasting, whose Rome am I in? Whose cultural norms do we take on?”
  • Before conducting a business videoconference call, you should preview your posture and where you appear to look. Because the position of your laptop and webcam can be variable — even with built-in webcams — you should test out and adjust where your eyes are focused. That’s because, if your camera is set on top of your laptop, you may appear to be avoiding eye contact when you look away from the webcam.  As Thomas Lewis, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, told the Times, “When someone doesn’t look us in the eye, the brain deduces this as someone being less likable, less confident and less honest.  This is problematic in trying to create business relationships.”

That’s some good advice on conducting videoconference calls for business.

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