There are practical steps you can take to have better video conference calls. By preparing for online meetings, you will know key features to look for and find ways to minimize background noise. During the video conference call, there are ways you can improve the experience. Finally, find out about alternatives to video calls such as phone calls and some situations where non-video conference communication is a better choice.
Why should you have a video conference meeting?
While video conference tools are a helpful way to stay connected, they may not be the right choice for every situation. Start by considering some circumstances where they may be helpful. A video conference call meeting can be helpful to improve communication and collaboration in several ways. For instance, two employees can use a video conference call and screen-sharing to work on a document or presentation together rather than emailing back and forth about it.
Further, a video conference call can encourage participants to “maintain virtual eye contact,” which may increase focus. Finally, a survey of executives found that “62% of executives agree that relative to audio conferencing, video conferencing significantly improves the quality of communication.”
Situations in which a video conference call might not be the right choice.
There are other situations where it may be a good idea to use phone calls instead of a video conference. Start by considering customer preferences. Some customers may prefer a traditional phone call instead of a video call, and it is reasonable to accommodate those requests. In other situations, employees may have computer malfunctions or limited internet bandwidth, so a video conference call may not perform effectively.
According to HighSpeedInternet.com, a download speed of at least 10 Mbps download speed per person and at least 1 Mbps upload speed per person is recommended for working from home to support all activities, including video conference calls. If there are multiple people in a household all using the same internet connection, there might not be enough bandwidth to meet the 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speed guideline.
Tips to reduce video conference fatigue.
These techniques and tips can play a role in reducing “Zoom fatigue”—the tendency to become tired from participating in multiple video calls. In using video conference calls, there are some tips to keep in mind in terms of frequency and duration. Psychology Today recommends scheduling breaks between video conference calls of “minimum five- to 15-minute breaks in between back-to-back video conference meetings.”
If taking full breaks is not feasible, another option is to consider trying scheduling shorter meetings such as “50 minutes instead of an hour, 25 minutes instead of 30.” Finally, Harvard Business Reviews suggests that “For external calls, avoid defaulting to video, especially if you don’t know each other well.” In addition, Harvard Business Review also suggests using other communication tools, such as phone calls and emails rather than relying exclusively on video calls.
Once you have decided when exactly to use video conference calls in your business, use the following tips to make video conferencing work smoothly.
Better video conference calls start with preparation.
The way you prepare your technology, surroundings and other factors influence the quality of your video calling experience.
Test video and audio settings and capabilities.
Preventing audio and video configuration problems is an excellent way to enhance your online meeting experience. Start by launching a test video call and review your appearance on video and audio. If you experience audio and video problems, you can take a few steps to improve audio and video performance.
Start by using a laptop instead of mobile devices to join the call. While you can run online meetings from a smartphone, holding the phone in place may be tiring throughout a session.
Consider using an alternative headset rather than your device’s built-in microphone. Experiment with holding the microphone closer and farther away from yourself while you speak so you can find the ideal arrangement.
While many newer laptops and smartphones have built-in cameras, you may find it better to use an external webcam so you can change its position independent of your laptop.
Reduce work-from-home background noise.
There are several ways you can proactively reduce work-from-home background noise. If possible, hold your online meetings in a quiet room with a door that closes. If other people live with you, tell them about your online meeting schedule and ask them not to disturb you during those times.
Further, you can adjust your microphone settings to reduce the chance of background noise being shared. If changing audio settings on your device or video conferencing service doesn’t solve the problem, see if you can move to a different room. For instance, some media professionals have recorded radio and podcast segments from their closets to reduce noise.
Maximize Wi-Fi capacity before the video call starts.
When you work from home, there is a good chance that multiple devices are using the same Wi-Fi connection. For instance, you may have smart speakers, smartphones, video game systems, and personal and business laptops. Further, other family members may use the same connection. For the best video conference call experience, consider temporarily disconnecting your other devices from Wi-Fi for the duration of the call or switching to a wired connection.
If you use the above steps and still find that you have a poor connection, ask your internet service provider for advice.
Think through your video call background options.
Video conferencing software can show more than the caller. A caller’s home might be shown on the call, including family members and pets walking by in the background. If you are uncomfortable with what the camera shows, you have a few choices.
Start by checking if you can change your video camera’s zoom settings. This one change can reduce the amount of your home shown during online meetings.
Check to see if your video conference software offers digital backgrounds. Such digital backgrounds provide some level of privacy protection. Experiment with the options before joining an important call so you know how to make changes.
Choose a host or emcee for larger online meetings.
There’s a difference between an online meeting between two people and a large group. For instance, you can use Ooma Meetings to have up to 25 participants on the same call. With that many different people, confusion might happen if several people speak at the same time. A meeting host can reduce the chances of miscommunication by recognizing people to speak one at a time.
Running effective video meetings: Use these key features.
By using the preparation steps above, you will be positioned to have better video conference calls. During the call itself, there are ways you can enhance the experience.
Use screen sharing to improve collaboration.
In contrast to a standard phone call, online meetings give you additional options for communication. For instance, two people can share their screen at the same time with Ooma Meetings. As a result, it is easier to review spreadsheets, presentations and other documents.
Practice good mute-button etiquette.
In video meetings, communication can be disrupted by interruptions. For instance, a family member or pet might appear next to you. When you work from home, such background noises can be tough to avoid. Fortunately, you can minimize the disruption by muting yourself whenever you are not speaking.
Close other apps on your device.
You might be used to having multiple web browsers, documents and other apps open throughout your workday. It is a wise idea to close non-meeting related apps and browsers for a few reasons during video meetings. First, you might be asked to share your screen, and you wouldn’t want to show anything confidential or embarrassing accidentally. Second, closing unrelated apps gives your device more computing resources to run the online meeting app, so technical problems will be less likely.
Check your lighting situation.
The right lighting conditions play a role in supporting quality online meetings. According to The New York Times, lamps with multiple brightness levels can boost light levels in video calls. The newspaper suggests that video callers “put your lighting at your eye height. Defining your eyes allows you to express more on video, to seem more like yourself.”
Speak slowly and wait for a pause.
In a video conference call, delays can occur. According to the Ledger, time lag issues on video calls can be caused by signal processing and internet congestion issues.” Therefore, it is more likely video call participants might speak over each other. Fortunately, there is an easy way to address delays: Speak your comment and then pause. By waiting and being patient, video call problems due to time lag can be reduced.
Prepare alternatives to online meetings.
Even if you follow every tip and prepare thoroughly, it is difficult to control every video calling variable. For example, other participants on the video call may have connection speed or lighting problems. If other participants have issues, it might be better to switch to a traditional phone call. According to the BBC, some customers may not like to make video calls because they take more energy than in-person conversation.
In these circumstances, it is wise to have an alternative to video calls, such as making a phone call. Instead of assuming customers would prefer a video call, offer communication options such as email, a phone call or an online meeting.