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Picture perfect Featured

5:39am EDT January 22, 2002

Companies looking to save money in a slowing economy have turned to videoconferencing.

There are no long lines, no security checks and no carry-on limits. Once you've opted to travel by videolink, there are a few guidelines that can help make your meeting a success.

"It's best if you don't have over 10 to 12 participants in each location," says Francis Girard, president of The Forum, a meeting center with videoconferencing facilities located in downtown Cleveland. "You can have a lot more than that if the other attendees don't have to participate in the meeting."

In that situation, the equipment focuses on the people actually participating in the meeting with the other attendees in the background.

Girard also recommends arriving early so you can determine where the attendees should sit and to familiarize yourself with the equipment. When talking to someone in the other location, speak clearly and look at the monitor.

"Minimize the background noises," says Girard. This includes tapping fingers on the table, shuffling papers or coughing. "The equipment has to be very sensitive because of the multiple people in the room. It will pick up all those noises."

What you wear is also important. Pastel colors and plaids tend to wash out on television. Neutral colors are better, and help keep people focused on you, not your clothes.

"Don't eat anything during the meeting," says Girard. "If you are talking to a client or customer, then coffee or water is about all that should be allowed."

If it's a longer meeting and you need to eat or get a snack, then take a break. Don't eat on camera.

Because you're talking through electronic equipment, it's also important to pause to let others respond to your comments and wait for them to finish before speaking. Like a teleconference, more than one person speaking can be distracting and hard to follow.

Maybe the most important thing is to be aware of your own movements.

"Don't keep shifting in your chair, keep your hands away from your face and look at the camera," says Girard.

The Forum