In our new age of remote work and teleconferencing, many companies have had to learn new ways of communicating – and that often involves mastering new apps like Zoom, or video conferencing in general.
Even with training and practice, video conferencing mistakes happen. We’ve all heard about teachers giving lectures while on mute, attorneys accidentally turning themselves into cats, and the other countless missteps that people have made with remote communication. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but it can also be a source of anxiety during important video conferences with clients or investors. Digital marketing expert CEO Jason Wood suggests following these steps when you have a major “oops” moment on Zoom or other related apps.
First, Fix the Problem
It can be tempting to do everything at once in an “Oops” moment. Resist the urge and instead focus on the problem. If your video feed suddenly goes dead, find out why and what tools you can use to bring it back. Be methodical, pay close attention to what’s going wrong, and don’t let anything distract you until you’ve fixed the issue. Nothing else works without following this first step.
Acknowledge the Mistake Briefly
Once you realize and correct your mistake, you can go on as if nothing had happened, but it’s generally more comfortable for everyone if you quickly acknowledge what occurred before moving on. A simple, “Yes, my mic was off,” or “That was my daughter in the background” is all it takes.
Thank Others For Staying With You
If appropriate, don’t forget to throw in a quick thank you as you resume your message. This helps acknowledge that the other parties endured your mistake and are still with you. Again, it can be very brief and should not distract from the content you are providing, but it’s an important step to get everyone back in sync.
Jason Wood suggests modifying your thanks depending on the size of the mistake. A brief mic misfire may not need you to say anything at all. But if the other parties have spent a minute or two dealing with your communication difficulties, it’s a good idea to thank them for their patience.
Don’t Spend Time Making Excuses
Once you have corrected and acknowledged the issue, don’t linger. If you are trying to impress someone like a client or employer, the last thing you want to say is something like, “Sorry, I’m new to this,” or “I haven’t quite figured out how this works.” Everyone’s time is valuable, so move on with your message and shorten it if you already took up significant time.
Send A Quick Message on Chat
It’s a good idea to send a quick message on the video conference chat. This could be as simple as announcing what topic you are covering next or a brief, “Thanks for your patience.” It helps all parties focus and get back on track if their attention was drifting.
Reschedule If Necessary
Be accurate and push on when possible, but keep rescheduling open as an option. There are situations where you may not have enough time to deliver your message or when your internet connection isn’t allowing for effective communication. Admit it and announce the need to reschedule, refer other parties to your website/contact info, and shut it down. Send everyone a message later to quickly reschedule a new date.
Connect To Your Audience with Body Language
Yes, you may be flustered and distracted after a mistake – but now’s the time to get back into the zone. One of the best ways to do this is to focus on your body language. Sit up straight, show ease and confidence, and smile. Jason Wood suggests that you should make sure you are naturally looking at the lens of your webcam so that your audience feels like you are making eye contact with them – it goes a long way!
Don’t start a video chat without checking your camera position. You present the best when your head and shoulders are level with the cam. Avoid looking down at the cam if you can.
Have a Hard Copy of Your Content Available
Jason Wood also advises video conferencing with a hard copy of important content within easy reach. First, suppose something goes wrong with the programs you are using or a screen sharing attempt. In that case, you may not be able to access the materials or outlines you need online, so having a physical source as a backup is vital to maintaining flow and returning to the message you are trying to get across.
Second, when recovering from a mistake, even if it’s something simple like a muted mic, it can be helpful to have a physical reminder nearby, remember where you were in your content, and calm yourself while getting back on track.
Go Back For a Review
Embarrassment is even more awkward if we don’t learn from our mistakes. After the session is over, take time to learn what went wrong and how to control it. Countless mistakes come from not understanding how to use the tools on an app or not knowing how to enable or disable settings. That’s easy to fix, as long as you’re willing to do a bit of learning and look up specific tutorials.
At other times, mistakes are made because the interface is different than what you are used to (moving from desktop to mobile versions of the app, for example), and it will take practice to learn where everything is and how to use it effectively. Or you need to change some accessories that you use. Whatever the core issue, address it so that won’t be a problem next time!