How To Navigate Video Conferencing Etiquette Across Languages

Plus, how to say common video conferencing terms in 10 languages.
June 11, 2020
How To Navigate Video Conferencing Etiquette Across Languages

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Do you find people saying “huh?” a lot during your video calls? Do you leave your video conferencing meetings feeling more confused than informed? Video call technology is relatively new, but it’s already become ubiquitous both in business and personal lives.  And whenever a new communication technology comes around — whether it be the telegraph, the telephone or the internet — humans need to adjust to it. If there’s any kind of language barrier between the people who are talking, that makes it all the more difficult. While video calls feel pretty similar to talking to someone in person, there are small differences that make learning video conferencing etiquette a useful skill.

We asked Babbel sociolinguistic expert Jennifer Dorman for her best advice on improving communication with other people over a video call. Plus, we wanted to give you some help if you’re communicating with people across languages, so we translated a few video conferencing phrases that could come in handy.

Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips

One of the most important aspects of video conferencing etiquette is being aware of your non-verbal communication. That means all of the hand gestures and facial expressions that you naturally make. After all, the main difference between a phone call and a video call is that the people can see you.

First, you’ll want to exaggerate your gestures a little bit. Not to the point where you look like a mime, but it’s important to remember that you’re a lot smaller on a screen than you are in real life. Some of your nuanced facial expressions might get lost in translation, so don’t be afraid to flail your arms a little bit.

Before you even get on the call, though, you can improve things by making sure your camera is well-placed. You want it to be close enough to you that your face is clearly visible, but far enough away that your arms are also in the shot when you want them to be. Finding the sweet spot in the middle means it’s less likely people on the other end of the video call will miss what you’re doing.

Speaking of the people on the other end of the call, it’s good to keep in mind that video conferences with fewer people are better, especially if you’re using the tile view (meaning everyone’s video is the same size). This isn’t always possible to control, but it’s worth it to keep in mind. And if you are having a large meeting, try to keep it to only one person talking at a time so you aren’t constantly switching between video feeds.

Lastly, there’s verbal communication. Or as you might call it, speech. When talking on a video call, you might want to speak more dramatically. This means talking slower, emphasizing words more and generally avoiding being monotone. Video conferences are imperfect, and the audio is known to sometimes be distorted or cut out. But if you speak slower and with more flare, you’re more likely to be understood.

Video Conferencing Phrases In Other Languages

If you’ve been on a few video calls, you know there are a few phrases that get repeated over and over. It’s almost reassuring to hear the same questions over and over again. If you have colleagues or friends who speak another language, or just want to show off your own language skills, here are a few common video conferencing phrases translated into 10 languages. And if you want to hear these phrases pronounced by native speakers, check out the video above!

“I think you’re on mute”

German — Ich glaube, dein Mikro ist aus.
Spanish — Tienes el micrófono apagado.
French — Je crois que tu as coupé ton micro
Russian — Мне кажется, у тебя выключен микрофон!
Portuguese — Acho que seu microfone está no mudo!
Dutch — Volgens mij staat je microfoon uit!
Turkish — Mikrofonun sesi kapalı sanırım!
Polish — Myślę, że masz wyciszony mikrofon.
Italian — Credo che il tuo microfono sia spento!
Swedish — Jag tror din mikrofon är av!

“Can everybody see my screen?”

German — Könnt ihr meinen Bildschirm sehen?
Spanish¿Todo el mundo puede ver mi pantalla?
French — Est-ce que tout le monde peut voir mon écran ?
Russian — Всем видно мой экран?
PortugueseTodo mundo está conseguindo ver a minha tela?
Dutch — Kan iedereen mijn scherm zien?
Turkish — Herkes ekranımı görebiliyor mu?
Polish — Czy wszyscy widzą mój ekran?
Italian — Vedete tutti il mio schermo?
Swedish — Kan alla se min skärm?

“Nice background!”

German — Schöner Hintergrund!
Spanish — ¡Bonito fondo!
French — Joli décor !
Russian — Отличный фон!
Portuguese — Gostei do fundo!
Dutch — Mooie achtergrond!
Turkish — Arkaplan güzelmiş!
Polish — Ładne tło!
Italian — Bello sfondo!
Swedish — Snygg bakgrund!

“How are you adjusting to the new normal?”

German — Wie kommst du mit der neuen Normalität klar?
Spanish — ¿Cómo te estás adaptando a la nueva normalidad?
French — Comment tu t’adaptes au nouveau “normal” ?
Russian — Как привыкается к новой реальности?
Portuguese — Como você está se adaptando à nova normalidade?
Dutch — Hoe ga jij om met het nieuwe normaal?
Turkish — Yeni normale nasıl adapte oluyorsun?
Polish — Jak odnajdujesz się w nowej rzeczywistości?
Italian — Come vi state adattando alla nuova normalità?
Swedish — Har du lyckats anpassa dig till det nya normala?

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Author Headshot
Thomas Moore Devlin
Thomas grew up in suburban Massachusetts, and moved to New York City for college. He studied English literature and linguistics at New York University, but spent most of his time in college working for the student paper. Because of this, he has really hard opinions about AP Style. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and getting angry about things on Twitter. He's spent a lot of time trying to learn Spanish, and has learned a little German.
Thomas grew up in suburban Massachusetts, and moved to New York City for college. He studied English literature and linguistics at New York University, but spent most of his time in college working for the student paper. Because of this, he has really hard opinions about AP Style. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and getting angry about things on Twitter. He's spent a lot of time trying to learn Spanish, and has learned a little German.

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