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10 Videoconferencing Top Tips

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In these days of social distancing and working from home we have all become much more familiar with videoconferencing as the way to keep in touch with colleagues, customers and others. The videoconferencing application Zoom, has become famous (and infamous at the same time) almost overnight, but there are so many applications to choose from including Google Hangouts (now Google Meet), Webex, Bluejeans, Houseparty and of course Microsoft Teams.

Apple’s Facetime and social media video calling applications (such as those on Facebook and WhatsApp) have made enjoying a video call a piece of cake – its so easy. But this is very different from running a professional and effective business video conference call.

In this article Im going provide some tips on holding successful video conferences based on our experience with helping many of our clients set up their own conferencing sessions.

We have a separate article looking at both Microsoft Teams and Zoom and where and how you might use these applications.

Keep current with our “How to” guides and top tips through our IT Insights newsletter.

Top tips for successful videoconferencing

  1. Ensure you have a stable Internet connection. Videoconferencing does require a stable connection to operate properly which may be a problem at home. This can be particularly an issue when many family members are at home together and all trying to use the Internet at once. Read our post on WifFi connection tips to learn how to get the most from your WiFi.
  2. Use the most appropriate videoconferencing software. We use videoconferencing to keep in contact with a wide range of people these days from family and friends, customers as well as internal work colleagues. So while Facetime, Facebook or Whatsapp video calls may be great for ad-hoc casual calls they may not be the most appropriate for more formal business meetings. Although not the only good applications by any means – see our article on Zoom and Teams.
  3. Consider the video and sound technology. Many devices come with inbuilt cameras and microphones but they may not deliver the best quality for your meeting. Inbuilt microphones can pick up background noise that can be distracting on a call. We suggest using a headset appropriate for the device you are on – a laptop versus a smartphone for example. We recommend Logitech or Plantronics headsets, but these days it more a matter of what you can get hold of. Check your webcam is aimed and frames you properly – try different camera positions, perhaps by propping your laptop up on some books.  If necessary buy a separate webcam.
  4. Use the right setting. You need to think about your setting for the call and select and environment that’s relatively quiet with a background that you are OK with sharing. We all know that working from home there will be distractions – dogs barking, children squeaking and so forth. But its better to manage this as best you can before your call starts! Microsoft Teams allows you to blur the background and other applications let you set a virtual background to avoid distractions. But just check what you are showing the world before you start – you may love that picture of flying ducks on your wall but perhaps you dont want to share it with your work colleagues.  Remember you are letting work contacts into your personal space.
  5. Check the lighting. With bad lighting not only can you look bad but its really annoying for the other participants. So face the light whether that’s a window or room lighting – ie don’t be “backlit”. You also don’t want to be directly under a light – particularly if you want to avoid bags under your eyes.
  6. Mute yourself when not speaking. Microphones can often pick up distracting background sounds, so its polite to hit the mute button when you are not talking …. but don’t forget to un-mute when you have something to say!!
  7. Dress and behave appropriately.  If you are talking to “mum” then it fine to wear your jammies. But if you are on a business call present yourself as if you were there in person. Remember, you are on camera all the time so think about what you do and how you come across. Focus on the task at hand – this is not like an audio conference where you can get on with email at the same time. Your work colleagues may get offended if it looks like you are not paying attention. This video portrays videoconferencing  “donts” very well.
  8. Try and test before you start. It makes sense to try your videoconferencing facility before your get started in a “real” conference – perhaps with a co-worker or family member. Conferencing applications have many facilities that can be very confusing to try and sort out when you are on a call for the first time and we have spent many precious minutes at the start of a call getting “novices” up to speed. Similarly, before each call, just do a quick check to ensure everything is working.
  9. Ensure everyone’s engaged. Just like a “regular” meeting, its good practice to ensure everyone on the call is comfortable with the arrangement and able to participate.
  10. Manage security and privacy. Last but by no means least, ensure your meeting is only open to those you want to participate and is protected from hackers. In the last few weeks there have been some real issue with videoconferencing security and privacy –  those with Zoom have been most publicised. So ensure all your software is up to date and has all the latest security patches. Where appropriate, use meeting passwords and don’t make “closed” meetings public.

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I hope the above helps.  If you need support on picking or using a videoconferencing application, please call us on 01428 770 290.

 

Keep current with our “How to” guides and top tips through our IT Insights newsletter.

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We provide supportive leadership enabling our business community to succeed and prosper through effective use of IT and Technology. PAAC IT is an IT Company in Surrey offering small businesses the personal attention and care that their IT systems deserve. If your company has between 1 and 100 employees and need a IT Company in Surrey we would love to hear from you!

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