Even before a global pandemic ramped up the demand for Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and a host of other top videoconferencing applications, the videoconference was already becoming a staple of the 21st century office. After all, virtual meetings support the telecommute, which was already picking up steam before the coronavirus came along. They also allow team members in far-flung locations to collaborate instantly and effectively, and they can save companies a substantial amount of money in travel.
But as far too many attendees of videoconferences gone wrong can attest, these digital get-togethers also have their problems, especially when it comes to technical issues. Fortunately, though, some of the most common of videoconferencing troubles are easily avoidable. Those looking to improve the quality of their next video meeting can take these six simple steps to improves their odds of video-chat success:
- Be sure to have enough bandwidth: Choosing internet plans that meet users’ needs is vitally important for positive experiences and that is particularly true for videoconferencing. To ensure that users have enough speed or bandwidth, they should first utilize the FTC speed calculator at https://www.ftc.net/services/internet#speed-calculator before checking out FTC’s Internet plans https://www.ftc.net/services/internet#rates-packages. This step will go a long way toward a series of productive video chats.
- Close out other apps: Before jumping onto a scheduled video call, make sure other applications on the computer or other device being used for the call are closed out, especially memory- or bandwidth-intensive applications. Shutting down the added competition will help prevent stuttering audio and video on the device when the call gets under way, which regular videoconferencers know is a common and significant hindrance to meeting comprehension.
- Test out the video and audio beforehand: Most videoconferencing applications offer an easy way to ensure that a device’s video and audio are working correctly before a call starts. In Skype, the feature can be reached by going to the “Audio and Video” section in “Preferences.” Zoom users can launch a test meeting to check that their audio and video are working correctly, and WebEx offers a Personal Room that enables such testing.
- Arrive early: While this tip is especially important for client calls, it really applies across the board, as keeping team members waiting for a lagging team member to arrive is a drain on everyone’s time. To maintain a professional appearance and demonstrate a respect for all attendees’ time, it is best to arrive in the meeting room at least two to three minutes before the scheduled start time. (This is especially vital for the meeting organizer.) Arriving early also allows attendees to test their connection and audio/video capabilities before the meeting gets started and ensures that the organizer can more promptly pursue backup plans if technical difficulties arise.
- Consider a mic/camera upgrade: Especially for regular videoconference attendees with older computing devices, upgrading to a better external camera and/or a professional headset can go a long way toward providing high-quality audio and video on conference calls, which of course leads to improved comprehension and boosted productivity for all meeting attendees. These add-ons are generally inexpensive, too, so they can provide a great return on investment for frequent videoconferencers.
- Master that mute button: Especially when one or more attendees are working from home, background noise in a conference call can take a big toll on the group’s ability to comprehend everything being discussed. All attendees should be sure they know where the mute button is on their videoconferencing app’s display window to remain muted until they need to speak, then to mute again after speaking. When all attendees stick to this practice, it can help keep background noise in a virtual meeting to a minimum.
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