Video conference calling has become an increasingly important tool in today’s digital age. Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses, schools, and other organizations have had to shift to remote work and learning, thereby greatly increasing the use of video conferencing applications. Whether you’re a beginner, an occasional user or someone who needs to conduct a video conference daily, this comprehensive guide explores the ins and outs of video conference calling, the different tools and platforms, and how to get the most out of them.
The Basics of Video Conference Calling
At its most basic level, video conferencing allows two or more individuals to connect and communicate with each other in real-time, using both video and audio. This type of communication requires an internet connection, video cameras (usually built into a computer or mobile device), and a screen to view the other party. However, the scope of features available and the effectiveness of video conferencing solutions depends on the platform or software used.
Choosing the Right Video Conferencing Platform
There are numerous video conferencing platforms available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The best one for you depends on your specific needs.
Zoom is well known for its user-friendly interface and robust feature set, including options like screen sharing, recording, virtual backgrounds, and breakout rooms. Microsoft Teams is deeply integrated with Office 365 applications and is a great choice for companies already using Microsoft’s suite of tools. Google Meet, is a go-to option for those heavily invested in the Google ecosystem.
Usability, feature set, pricing, and scalability are all factors to consider. Many platforms offer basic versions for free, with premium versions that provide more advanced features, more participants, and longer meetings.
Best Practices for Video Conference Calling
Now that we’ve covered the basics and the various software options, let’s move to best practices to make video conference calls more productive and professional:
1. Test your tech: Always test your internet connection, audio, and video before the call to avoid technical difficulties during the conference.
2. Mind your surroundings: Choose a quiet, distraction-free environment with adequate lighting and a neutral background.
3. Be on time: Respect others’ time by starting and ending meetings on schedule.
4. Dress appropriately: Dress like you would for an in-person meeting, at least from the waist up.
5. Mute when not speaking: To avoid background noise and interruptions, always mute yourself when you’re not speaking.
6. Look at the camera: Make virtual eye contact by looking straight into your device’s camera, not at the screen.
7. Use proper video conference etiquette: Ensure to introduce all participants at the beginning of the call, avoid talking over others, and use the chat function to pose questions and leave comments.
8. Use engaging features: Make your meetings interactive by using various features like screen sharing, digital whiteboard, polling, virtual hand raising, etc.
9. Record sessions: Most platforms allow meetings to be recorded for review or for those who couldn’t attend.
Seamless video conference calls can do wonders to enhance communication, collaboration and productivity in a remote work set-up or a customer engagement session. While the shift to a largely virtual communication environment might seem overwhelming at first, this guide should serve as a starting point towards demystifying and mastering video conference calling.