Aided by tech innovations, HD cameras and audio-visual equipment, video meetings have been embraced by many business professionals as the preferred mode of collaboration. As such, over the past few years, video conferencing has vastly changed the way business is done.

By enabling virtual face-to-face interactions, it has helped to either reduce or eliminate time-consuming, costly business trips, saving businesses money and saving employees time, effort and energy that can be more effectively expended in other ways. But the question remains: is a video meeting as good as meeting in person? Will there be the same human element, as well as the same social elements, on video as what exists when people or groups meet in person? We think so, but here are some tips that can help ensure that that your video conferences and meetings will be as good as it gets.

1. Look the part.

If you want to play the part, you should look the part. In order to do that, you can dress and prepare yourself for a video meeting as much as you would if it were a meeting in real life. Wearing business clothes, having your hair neatly combed and looking as you would look if you were meeting someone in person in an office or elsewhere is just smart business when it comes to video conferences.

2. Be prepared.

When you're having a meeting, whether it's in person or online, make sure you're prepared. Do your homework in advance of the meeting and have any notes, about issues you want to discuss or questions you have, at the ready. If appropriate, and if you're reviewing charts, presentations, proposals or the like, it might also make sense to distribute those materials to your video conference participants in advance, so that everyone has the same information at hand, making it easy to discuss and collaborate. Make sure too, that the video conferencing system you are using allows you to easily share screens.

3. Have the right equipment.

Before you start down the video conferencing path, it pays to invest in the right equipment not only in meeting rooms, but also on desktops and mobile devices, where a quality web camera, great speakers and a headset will make all the difference. It's really pretty simple; the better your camera and audio system, the better the quality of your video conference, and the better overall image you present of yourself. In meeting rooms make the most of the pan, tilt and zoom camera to ensure that its focused on you and your colleagues. All the better if there's a far end camera control, in use by all participants. Additionally, pay attention to the lighting in your conference area. Outside light can be a distraction and can reduce the quality of the video conference, so test your environment in advance and tweak the lighting as needed to ensure the most favorable visual environment for all participants.

4. Leverage screen sharing.

When it comes to real-time collaboration, screen sharing is one of the most important tools you can use. Screen sharing allows the meeting participants an up close and personal look at documents or other materials you're discussing and it's quick and easy to do using a computer and the right HD audio visual technology.

5. Share a sandwich.

Treat video conference meetings the same way you treat in person meetings - even when it comes to taking a break for lunch. Grab some lunch and make sure you've invited your other participants to do the same, and share the meal during the course of your meeting. This kind of communal experience, even though it involves technology, will go a long way toward building stronger relationships, not to mention more interesting meetings. According to recent Frost & Sullivan research, the market for video conferencing systems and services will double in the next two years to $6.3B, so it's clear there's an increased, and escalating, demand for video meetings and video conferencing capabilities.

There is a market for affordably priced video endpoints and software based audio-visual solutions to enable virtual meeting spaces. Visual collaboration is not just the future of communication technology for businesses of tomorrow; it's rapidly becoming a cornerstone of business today. Hopefully the suggestions above will help you as you work to integrate video conferencing capabilities into your business operations.