Online video meetings are becoming more and more a part of our work and life. These are used for staff and volunteer teams, online small groups, and pastor peer groups to name a few.
Whether it is via Zoom, Skype Personal, Microsoft Teams (formerly Skype for Business), FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or other video venues, there are four key elements of these video engagements we need to consider so all participants are provided the opportunity to get the most out of our time together:
The basic element of any meeting is for people to be able to hear one another. While not everyone attending the meeting may be able to have the best environment for audio, the host and majority of participants need to have good audio.
Avoid Audio Feedback
This occurs when the computer audio is loud enough that the microphone “hears” the computer speaker and rebroadcasts it to the group. This causes either an annoying echo or squealing noise.
If you are the only one attending via your computer/location, the best way to fix this is to use a pair of headphones for your audio. This prevents the meeting audio from being heard by the microphone.
If there are multiple people at a physical location attending the online meeting together, headphones are not the answer. In this case, keeping the microphone muted until someone at your location needs to speak is the most economical method.
Mute Your Microphone
The best practice is to keep your microphone muted until you speak. Whether you are in a setting with a lot of background noise or a quiet office, when an inadvertent noise is made, it adversely affect the audio and video experience for all attenders.
Only unmute your microphone when you need to speak. If your background noise is too much, use the chat function of the online meeting tool to send a meeting to the group or the meeting host.
While video is not always used for online meetings, it adds helps with communication since participants can see body language. Have a good camera is important. Most any laptop, tablet, or phone made in recent years have good webcams built in.
If you are on a desktop and need a good webcam, I use and highly recommend the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. You can search for it online. (Here is my affiliate link to Amazon. This will not cost you any more money, and I will get a very small commission that helps pay for hosting this site.)
Poor lighting can make participant appear in the shadows or washed out. The most economical approach to good lighting is to have natural light coming in through a window, preferably from your side.
Avoid having a window directly behind you as it makes the camera dim and leaves your face in the shadow making you unrecognizable.
If you are in a location without a window, place a lamp or light out of view of the camera but so it cast light on your face. The goal is to illuminate your face so it is not in a shadow.
If the location you often use does not have adequate lighting, consider using a light ring like one these two options. While these are great for laptops and desktops, these are also handy if you frequently use your smartphone to connect to video meetings. If you want to use these with your smartphone, be sure to check the maximum size capabilities of each to ensure they are large enough to hold your model of smartphone.
- Prior to the meeting, test your audio and video configuration.
- Have proper lighting so you can be seen.
- Sit close to the camera so your face fills most of the screen. Focus on the screen. Lean in and be a part of the meeting. Give visual feedback as if you were in the room together.
- Keep your microphone muted when you are not talking.
- Use an external microphone and headset.
- Don’t eat during the meeting. Stay focused and engaged.
- If you have a door, close it to reduce interruptions.
- Put your nearby phones and devices on mute or do not disturb.
- When you are talking, look at the camera and not the screen. This is the video equivalent of eye contact and helps others better connect with you.
- When you are talking, avoid moving around and talking with your hands. The less movement your camera and their screens must process the better the audio and video will be.
- When you are talking, go slowly. This also helps the audio quality and improves communication.
- When you need to talk, raise your hand. Depending upon how formal your meeting is, you may want to set the expectations that people will raise their hands and the meeting host will call on a person when it is her or his turn to speak. Less formal meetings for smaller groups can be less rigid. The point is to avoid an online meeting culture where people talk over each other and no one is heard.
Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash