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Quain's Top Ten VideoPhone Tips

First appeared in Fast Company magazine's August/September 96 issue.

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 an aesthetic sense.

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.

Fast Company

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