Our lives and social habits have changed dramatically in recent months as the result of the pandemic and all the restrictions put on social life afterwards. We had to change all our meetings and business brainstormings for group video calls, and words like Zoom, Teams and Webex became one of the well-known. We have prepared several tips that can help you when trying to communicate via video chat.
CHANGE FROM DAY TO DAY
At the beginning of 2020, the majority of us could easily say they were never a part of a video call. Today, it became the most common thing and I personally have quite a number of them in a week. Whether it is work, education, social interactions or fun, it all started to happen online in the last few months - in so-called online space. Whether it is a friendly video call between colleagues or you are being a part of an online discussion that is watched by thousands of people, it is important to keep in mind several rules so that your behaviour does not disturb or in some cases does not embarrass you. Whilst streaming our online events we have encountered various different situations during video calls, so we have prepared several tips for you.
1. INTERNET CONNECTION
Stable internet with a good speed is the alpha and omega of all video conferences. Without a good internet connection, all the tips and recommendations mentioned below become irrelevant, because no one will see or hear them. The speed of your internet can be measured by different websites such as www.speedmeter.sk. Apart from keeping an eye on the download speed, it is important to also watch out for the upload speed. Many ISPs offer very fast download but weak upload. And since you will need to use/send image as well as sound, upload is as important as download.
“Your video call quality should be at least 10mbs down/ 10mbsup”.
If you can choose, always go for cable connection rather than wifi. If you do not have the ability to connect via cable, try to place your computer as close as possible to your wifi router to have the best signal possible. If the internet is weak and image and sound is dropping - we recommend to turn off the webcam. Even thought participants will not be able to see you, the sound quality will then improve. Also, make sure you have turned off all the programs that use up internet and are not needed at the moment. If more people are home using the same network, ask them to not download any big files during your video call.
2. UNDISTRUCTED SPACE
A quiet place with a good light will solve many problems ahead. We certainly do not recommend attending a video conference from your favourite coffee shop (unless you are there completely alone) or from the airport lobby. It is important to keep in mind that your microphone picks up all the surrounding noise and participants hence hear your voice through speakers of different quality. In the majority of cases, they are all small speakers either on phones or laptops where the human voice can easily merge with the surrounding noise and your speech or presentation will be hard to understand. If you are at home, it is definitely not a good choice to sit in the kitchen for example, where your husband is opening up a fridge to get something “chilled”.
This brings us to the most appropriate background of the vide call. Sitting behind a window facing street full of people where there is a constant movement is disruptive for the participants and as well lowers the overall quality of the video transmission. The background hence should be static, preferably in one colour and without any shiny surfaces. Today's built-in cameras in smartphones or laptops offer satisfactory image resolution, but due to their small optics, they need enough light to keep the image clean without any noise or being it too dark. Regarding the light source (lamp or a window), it should never be placed behind your back. It of course is suitable to sit in front of a window, but not in a way that sun shines directly on you and blinds you.
3. USE ALL THE TECHNICAL POSSIBILITIES YOU HAVE TO MAXIMUM
Your computer is like a monopost for a formula driver, so it should be in good technical condition. Make sure it is not flooded with viruses or malware, as this could compromise the security of your video conference. Update your operating system as well as the program used for the video call or conference. It is always worth it to test your microphone and webcam beforehand - each program provides an option of “test microphone and camera” where you will see a green sound indicator and a live image of you generated by the camera.
Most laptops have microphones placed above the keyboard, so do not place any paper or any other things on it - covering up the microphone like this will make the sound incomprehensible. If is your voice heard twice throughout the call, beeps or has an echo, try using headphones. Moreover, conference programs have the option of desktop sharing, which brings an added value of participants seeing not only you, but also being able to see your working area. It is an ideal tool for displaying the agenda or supporting the verbal interpretation of the presentation. And of course, test this feature beforehand as well, so that you don’t accidentally share unwanted data.
4. VIDEO CALL HAS ITS ETHICS AS WELL
Respect others and do not interrupt their speech, that is the basic rule whatever the circumstance of the conference. If you want to react in any way, always wait until the participant finishes up the whole sentences, makes his or hers point. It is important to keep in mind, that when there is two of you talking, both sounds will merge into one and hence no one will be able to understand neither of you. Before the start of your video session, it is good to ask the participants to write any questions or observations in chat, where you can come back to them at the end without any disturbance and start a discussion. When you are not talking at the moment, turn off your microphone by using the miraculous “mute microphone” button, you will avoid any unwanted sounds and distractions - no one wants to hear how you drink coffee or any coughs. Your appearance and clothing are just as important as in a classic meeting - you represent yourself or your company. Speak briefly and do not deviate from the topic. It is scientifically proven that the attention of viewers at an online conference is much shorter than usually. Make sure you only pay attention to the video call itself - many people look at their phone, respond to emails or even take incoming phone calls which at the end comes as a very disrespectful thing towards others, paying attention to you.
In conclusion, we want to wish you a successful online communication with as few internet outages as possible. We strongly hope the world as we know it will come “back to normal” soon. One thing is certain thought, and so that the coronavirus has accelerated the development of online events and the virtual part of it will from now on be an inherent part of every conference.