The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically transformed how professionals attend meetings and collaborate. With the closure of offices and the rise of remote working globally, video conferencing has become the norm for many people.
While video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have allowed people to stay connected throughout the coronavirus pandemic, video calls don’t always go to plan. There are lots of issues that can occur during a video call, whether it’s an unstable internet connection, unwanted background noises, a distracting backdrop, a poor-quality microphone, or something else.
But luckily, there are many things you can do to improve your video conferencing experience. For example, you could create a schedule, turn off your microphone when other people are speaking, use noise-canceling headphones, set a background, run technical checks before a call, ensure you’re sat in a well-lit room, and lots of other steps. Keep reading to learn how you can take your video calls to the next level.
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Turn your mic off when you don’t speak
When you’re on a video call with several people, there’s nothing more annoying than hearing background noises coming from the microphone of someone who’s not speaking. As a result, speakers end up being distracted, while those listening cannot hear what the speaker is saying.
It’s common courtesy to switch off your microphone if you’re not talking during a video call. This will ensure that your microphone doesn’t accidentally pick up any background noises that will end up causing a disturbance on a video call.
Set a schedule
Disorganized video calls are a nightmare, especially when people constantly interrupt each other, the host keeps switching between topics, or the call goes on for hours and hours. That’s why preparation is essential.
But how do you ensure a video call is well organized? A great way to do this is by creating a schedule that sets out all timings, speakers, topics, objectives, and other vital components of a video meeting. After creating a schedule, you can send it to all participants before the video call takes place and add it to the description of the call.
Many people use the built-in microphone and speakers on their laptop, desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet for participating in video calls. But there are lots of reasons why you shouldn’t do this, such as your device’s microphone picking up background noises, the default microphone having technical difficulties, or other people being able to hear a video call because you’re sitting in a public place or a busy office.
So, is there an alternative to using your device’s microphone and speakers for video calls? Yes, you can simply plug in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. These will block out background noises, pick up your voice accurately, and ensure no one can eavesdrop on your video calls. Here are a few options to try.
Buy a separate webcam
Nowadays, the vast majority of connected devices sport front-facing cameras for video calling. But if your device doesn’t have one or the quality of your built-in webcam isn’t the best, you can always purchase an individual webcam to plug into your device. Should you need help choosing a good model, we’ve already rounded up the best webcams.
Set a background
Whether you’re sat in a busy coffee shop, lying in bed, or walking down the street, there are often times when your backdrop isn’t suitable for a professional video call. But the great thing about modern video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams is that they allow you to change your background to make your call look more professional.
Depending on the occasion, you can even select a fun background. The best video conferencing platforms offer libraries containing a large range of pre-designed backgrounds and even allow you to upload your own. Either way, you won’t need to worry about your socks sneaking into the background of an important video call.
Check your tech and software beforehand
Most people have run into technical difficulties while on a video call, whether your microphone isn’t working, your speakers aren’t playing any sound, your webcam won’t turn on, your device crashes, or any other issue that affects a virtual meeting. While technical difficulties sometimes can’t be helped, they can usually be avoided if you check that everything is up and running before a video call takes place.
For example, you should ensure the video conferencing platform is installed on your device; check that your microphone, speakers, and webcam are working; have the link to join the call handy; and connect to the best available internet connection.
Have a charger nearby
Another issue that often happens during a video call is your device suddenly running out of battery and switching off. Because of this, you can end up missing large chunks of an important video call. But you can easily solve this issue by having a charger nearby or keeping your device plugged into an electrical socket throughout an entire video call.
Look the part
What you’re going to wear during a video call is also worth considering. If you’re hosting or participating in a video call at work, it’s important to look professional. You wouldn’t, for instance, wear a pair of pajamas to the office. Although not everyone will need to don a suit or a black dress on a video call, dressing appropriately is still essential. At the same time, it’s worth brushing your hair if you’ve just rolled out of bed and are about to take part in a video call.
Check the lighting
Lighting is another significant factor to consider should you be looking to improve the video conferencing experience. If you’re sitting in a dark room, the other participants won’t be able to see you on the video call. To avoid this, you can try sitting near a window or artificial lights. Just ensure the light source isn’t too overpowering. Otherwise, people may still struggle to view you clearly during the call.
Select a top video conferencing platform
Today, there are lots of different video conferencing platforms available on the market. And choosing a top-rated provider is a quick and easy way to ensure your video calling experience is great. But which provider should you choose? Our favorite video conferencing platforms are GoToMeeting, RingCentral Video, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom meetings, and many more.
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Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan!