Video conferencing - 5 top tips for beginners
While it was once a fiddly and unreliable gimmick used by businesses that wanted to show off, video conferencing has officially gone mainstream in recent years. In part, thanks to the popularity of ‘civilian’ video call services such as Skype.
Video conferencing has changed the game when it comes to business planning, development, and more. The advances made in modern broadband and cloud computing solutions mean that we no longer have to make do with fuzzy video meetings, with an unreliable connection, with Bob from Head Office in Birmingham. These days, online conversation is clear and reliable.
However, as with any young technology, there is often quite a lot to get your head around. Whether you’re using top-tier, dedicated room-based solutions, such as Cisco’s “Telepresence,” or cloud-based solutions, such as ezTalks, or even simple one-to-one meeting via Skype, there are a number of factors you need to consider when it comes to video conferencing.
Making a connection - Arguably the most vital aspect of any video conferencing setup is the internet connection. A slow internet connection will result in a video conferencing experience that is slow and potentially rife with visual disruptions and inconsistent audio.
This could prove damaging if something gets taken out of context. Make sure your office connection is secure and stable and that you are using LAN cables instead of wireless connections whenever possible.
Go with a brand you trust - There are a number of video conferencing solutions on the market being peddled by a range of brands. These run the gamut from the well-meaning startups to the legacy brands trying to weasel in on the action.
Considering what an important part sound and visuals play in the process, however, you’re always better off using a brand that is known for just that. The Bose Professional line of audio conferencing solutions, for example, use the same award-winning audio processing and amplification used in the best speakers in the business. So, when designing your video conferencing space, make sure the brand behind the equipment has the gravitas to cover your needs.
It’s all in the screen - The LED screens and displays you use to represent the member of the room who might be on the other side of the world will depend on the size of the room and how many people will be viewing it.
If you’re scheduling a meeting with the whole office, for example, you might need to invest in a large-scale LED video screen, but if it’s just a few people catching up and going through strategy then a large computer monitor hooked up to a decent audio system is ideal.
Hardware and software - It should go without saying that your office computer systems should be speedy enough to handle streaming video (the more RAM the better) and that the network should be secured against external breaches with a strong firewall.
However, when it comes to video conferencing, the software is just as important as the hardware. Many video conferencing software options are free to try, so always opt for a trial period before committing. Also, making sure the software is regularly updated and that it is compatible with your operating system is another essential if you want to ensure a smooth experience.
Set the scene - The venue might not initially seem important, but if the office is not lit properly then you could leave your audience in the dark. Use natural lighting where possible and position the cameras so that there is minimal glare.
Also, ensure there are no distractions in the room itself. For businesses that need to use video conferencing quite frequently, we’d also recommend setting aside a dedicated video conferencing room so that it’s set up and ready to go at a moment’s notice is necessary.
Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your employees are aware of how to use the equipment, that they dress to impress (it is video, after all), and consider certain factors that you can’t control - such as potential time zone differences. In all, however, business video conferencing is more approachable now than it ever has been and it could help drag your company further into the future.