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Training: Video Chat Experience

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This training module focuses on improving the experience of those using video conferencing solutions like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. It’s goal is to create awareness on how to present yourself in a clear, higher quality and more professional way. The advice is general in nature and applies to all online video chat and video conferencing solutions.

1. Which video conference software should I use?

Most businesses choose to standardise on a single video conferencing solution, as this create consistency, reduces costs and makes training on it easier. However if conferencing externally you may need to use a different solution. The rule of thumb is, whoever is hosting usually dictates the specific video platform in use and provides support around getting connected (if required).

Almost all video conferencing solution are accessible via web browser, making it easy for guest to join without requiring installed software. However for some features like screen sharing the software may need to be installed.

If you are hosting a meeting and are new to the specific video conferencing platform, it’s worth setting up a test meeting with a personal email address, so you can step yourself through the process to join so you are familiar and able to help if any guests need assistance getting connected.

2. Lights, Camera, Audio, Internet

It’s important to think about others experience of you via video conference. Just because you can clearly see and hear your contacts it provide no guarantee they are getting the same experience from you. Communication is key and the better your video conferencing setting the easier it will be for others to clearly hear and see you.

2.1 Lighting

Most webcams work poorly in low light situations. If they don’t have enough light you’ll look dark or “grainy”. A well lit room is a must. Turning on an extra light or two can often make a huge difference to how clear and visible you look on screen. However you also want to avoid being “back-lit”, if your sitting in front of a window on a sunny day, you’ll appear as a silhouette and will be hard to make out.

Check the video feed on your calls occasionally to see how visible you are, if you look dark or unclear try the tips above to see if the improves the quality of your image.

2.2 Camera

A more expensive webcam may provide a better result, but what’s just as important is the angle and position of your webcam. Ideally you want it so it’s about eye height. This can be achieved by propping your laptop up on a small stand. You also want to consider the how close or far away your camera is. Ideally you want your full head and some of your torso visible. Body language is more than just your facial expressions, so having your hands and body visible can help facilitate better communication.

2.3 Audio

While audio quality your built in laptop microphone and speakers might work, the experience is not always very good for those talking to you. If you’ve had a few people comment on how they’re struggling to hear you, or if they’re picking up lots of background noise, it’s worth spending 5 minutes to improve your audio setup.

You can test to see how clear you sound by using online sound recording(online-voice-recorder.com), record yourself saying a sentence or two and then play it back. If it’s unclear or sounds low quality you definitely want to consider improving your audio setup.

Headphones or a headset can make a huge difference, especially for those in noisy or shared environments. While not everyone likes the look of headphones, they provide a drastically better audio experience compared to using built in microphone and speaker. When using built in speakers or microphones many devices will mute or unmute your audio and microphone as you talk to avoid feedback loops, so you may find using a headset makes conversations over video conversation seem more fluid. Even the standard iPhone earphones will provide a notably better result, especially in group calls.

2.4 Internet

If you’re experiencing low quality video or those you are conversing with say your video quality is low when others is not, it could be an issue with your internet connection. Try moving into the same room as your wireless router when making a call and if you notice an improvement it could indicate your wireless network is due for an upgrade. Also check to see if anyone else is downloading large files, watching Netflix or also using video call functionality as it might be your connection is not fast enough to sustain both.

A short term solution may include hot spotting off your phone (if you get good 4G or 5G signal in your area) but be aware of any data caps with your mobile plan as long video calls can use a large amount.

3. Share your screen

While this feature is known by many it’s often forgotten as a great way to collaborate. If working remotely you can’t walk over to someone’s desk to see what they see but with modern video conferencing this is very easy. Not only that many video conferencing solutions will let other request control of your computer or vice versa so they can point with the mouse or help work through an issue.

be cautious however, if you plan to share your screen make sure you don’t have anything confidential open or if you do, only share a window instead of your screen (a common feature in many video conferencing solutions).

4. Explore all available features

Most video conferencing platforms come with extra features such as chat, recording, virtual whiteboards, polls and more. It’s worth exploring and trying these out internally to see what options help enhance your experience and which ones don’t. For platforms like Microsoft Teams new features are added every few weeks so keep an eye out for changes and improvements that could make your video chat experience better.

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