Video conferencing tools have made business communication easier, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can jump in on a meeting with your boss or coworker, even if you’re on opposite sides of the globe. If you’re making a presentation, you can share your screen with the other participants so they can follow along as you make your points. The file sharing functionality of video conferencing solutions make collaboration with your team possible, as well.
Invest in quality headphones and webcams
Anyone who’s ever been on a video call or meeting before has experienced problems with audio quality at one time or another. Echoes, static, and other disturbances compromise the quality of sound, which can lead to breakdowns in communication. To avoid such issues, provide your staff with noise-cancelling headphones. Aside from ensuring better audio quality, noise-cancelling headphones filter out sounds that can distract your employees and keep them from paying full attention during meetings.
Another thing to invest in is a webcam. Look for one with a high resolution (at least 720p) and frame rate (at least 15 fps). High-resolution webcams make for sharper images, while high frame rates ensure that videos don’t freeze or stutter.
Get rid of bandwidth hogs
Bandwidth hogs are devices and applications that consume a lot of system resources. Video streaming services such as YouTube and online games are bandwidth hogs because they task the available bandwidth on a shared internet connection. If your kids (or, if you’re at the office, your coworkers) are streaming movies or downloading files during your video call, your internet connection can slow down significantly, and this can impact call quality. You may experience pixelated images, choppy audio, and sync issues, wherein the video and audio appear out of time with each other.
To avoid these problems, make sure to close all such apps before your call or meeting. Also, check your computer and other devices for any programs that might automatically download or upload files, such as updates. Close those programs as well as any background apps that may be consuming a lot of bandwidth. Ask your family or roommates to minimize their internet usage until after your call, or to schedule bandwidth-intensive activities outside of your work hours.
A common problem for remote workers is finding a space where they can work — and conduct video calls when necessary — in peace. If you’re lucky enough to have a home office, that’s great. But if you’re not, that’s not necessarily a problem. You can still have an excellent video conferencing experience even if you’re working from your bedroom or kitchen.
The key is to get rid of anything that would distract you and the other call participants. Choose a room that’s free of other people and pets, as well as appliances that make loud noises. Ask your household members to keep things down and not disturb you during your call. To keep out outside noises like cars or people passing by, shut the windows. You can also mute your microphone when you’re not speaking so the other participants won’t hear any noises on your end. You can quickly do this with the following keyboard commands:
- Ctrl+Shift+M or Command+Shift+M (Microsoft Teams)
- Alt+A or Shift+Command+A (Zoom)
You can also eliminate visual distractions by blurring or changing your background. Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other video conferencing platforms let you choose from a gallery of images or upload images from your computer.
As in face-to-face business meetings, it’s best to come to a virtual meeting prepared. Share the agenda before a meeting helps in this regard. Knowing what the main goal of the meeting is will help your team stay on track and on schedule. Speakers/Presenters can prepare documents, charts, and the like ahead of time.
Additionally, make sure that your computer, camera, headphones, and the video conferencing software itself are working properly. Turn on the camera and microphone permissions on your computer or browser. Use the preview feature of your video conferencing app to check your settings as well as how everything looks and sounds. With Microsoft Teams’ Test Call feature, for instance, you can make a call to a bot to assess the audio and video quality, and make any necessary adjustments to your setup. And if you plan to share your screen during the meeting, make sure to test the screen sharing feature beforehand.
You can also ask the participants to join the meeting at least 10 minutes early so they too can make necessary adjustments to their equipment. This will help ensure that the meeting goes as smoothly as possible.
Practice proper etiquette
Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t maintain professionalism during virtual meetings. Be punctual, don’t interrupt speakers, and keep your focus on the discussion. Resist the urge to multitask, because far from improving your productivity, doing several things at once reduces your efficiency and performance.
It’s also important to dress appropriately for a video call or meeting. Change out of your sweats and into an outfit that’s similar to what you would wear to work. Avoid bold patterns and shiny fabric; bold, repetitive patterns like pinstripes can appear blurred on camera, while shiny fabrics like satin can reflect the light. These can distract the other participants and cause them to focus on what you’re wearing instead of what you’re saying.
Here at Quicktech, we understand the importance of effective communication to business success. We offer organizations across Vancouver and the rest of Canada top-of-the-line communications solutions that ensure their teams stay in touch and on the same page, even if they’re miles apart. Enhance your communications and productivity by connecting with us today. Call us at 604-757-2682.