If you work from home, in an office, or as a system administrator, you’ve probably had a lot of interaction with Zoom recently. The word “Zoom” has become a verb in a short time, as in “We’re going to zoom in on this tomorrow.”
Users need to ensure that everything runs smoothly in video conferencing, so best practices and video conferencing tips should be taught and provided with the right equipment. Here are some ways you can help your users improve video conferencing and help them look better in the process.
1: Connecting to the Internet
Before we get to the actual video conferencing tips, let’s state the obvious: video conferencing requires a stable and fast internet connection, something that many private home networks lack due to equipment like suboptimal routers or poor PC placement.
Perhaps the easiest trick to avoiding low-quality Wi-Fi at home is to use a long Ethernet cable to connect your PC or tablet directly to the router during video conferencing, making Wi-Fi quality irrelevant. If your device lacks an Ethernet port (iPad), you can plug in a USB adapter (starting at $ 20 at Amazon).
Even if the topic in question is video conferencing, we must first analyze the audio.
- Tip 1: Headphones – always use them!
Generally speaking, dialogue in video conferencing is much better when all participants are wearing headphones, especially when there are more than two participants (unless it is a very disciplined or experienced video conferencing group who keep their microphones silent all the same anyway time). And it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing in-ear headphones, AirPods, or Mickey Mouse ear headphones.
The issue: Today’s video conferencing programs are very good at distinguishing between the speaker’s sound (from the other participants) and their spoken words (so that only the audio is sent to the other participants). However, when two or more people speak quickly (or even simultaneously), echoes or words that are not transmitted are generated. If everyone wears headphones, this problem is completely eliminated, and everyone’s conversation is much more fluid.
- Tip 2: Silence! Recording in progress
Make sure the other participants are good and your environment is calm and that constant disruptions are avoided. Even the air you exhale or the keyboard sound can make noise for everyone else on the call.
Always turn the microphone off if you have nothing to say. A zoom conference host can use the key combinations ⌘Cmd + Ctrl + M (on Mac) or Alt-M (PC) to mute all microphones at once, if necessary.
BTW: If your microphone is muted, you can press the space bar to briefly activate the microphone when speaking in Zoom (like the “talk” button on a walkie-talkie).
- Tip 3: Invest in a good microphone
In laptops and tablets, the integrated microphones often provide poor sound quality and are also often too far from the person who speaks, thus transmitting a lot of ambient noise and echoes.
It is preferable to provide your users with earphones / AirPods or extremely good microphones. Personally, I like the Blue Yeti Nano. The microphone used in Zoom is selected at the bottom left of the screen. Oh, and if you really want to step up your mic setup, you can invest in a “boom boom” mic stand to reduce the extra noise and keep the mic away from the monitor.
Now let’s review the “video” part of the video conference.
- Tip 4: Know the light!
Here arises the spirit of a photographer that I carry in me: if you want to take a good photo, it is practically about having good light. George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, said: “Light makes photography. Embrace the light. Admire it. Love her, but above all: know the light. “
In almost all video conferences, there is always at least one participant who “does not know the light.” Why do a video conference if you can only see the dark outline of a person, you can barely recognize facial features, or if your face is as dimly lit as the Emperor in Star Wars?
People, in the end, want to make a good impression. To that end, they must be concerned about the light. As a general rule, your face should be well lit from the front (no more than 45 degrees from the side), while the room/background should be less lit. A bright daylight window or lamp should never be behind or next to you, as this will cause the camera to lower the exposure, making your face darker or unrecognizable.
Which of the following four guys would you like to have a one-hour video conference with? The 4 recordings were made briefly in a row with no changes on the PC workstation, I just changed the lighting:
My configuration is as follows:
I open a large (north) window behind my monitor for video conferencing. To properly illuminate my face at night, I place a photographic light behind the camera when necessary.
Behind my monitor, there is a large (north) window, which I open for video conferencing. At night a photographic light can be placed behind the camera to illuminate my face well, if necessary.
- Tip 5: Invest in a good camera
This is maybe easier said than done now because in many places webcams are not available (for example, no image quality differences are currently available on Amazon), but the quality differences are huge. Comparing webcams with Sony RX 100 VI, a small, premium camera (which is about $1,000) at first may seem unconventional and unfair, but you see that the difference is not good for this use when compared with the Logitech Streamcam ($170) of high quality.
The Microsoft LifeCam HD is clearly inferior to all other options. Don’t buy it. The images produced by the built-in cameras of premium devices (iPhone 11 Pro, Surface Book 2, and Razer Blade 15 Studio notebook) are acceptable. These three cameras are arguably among the best onboard cameras, yet they fall significantly short of those from Logitech and Sony.
- Tip 6: Place the camera at eye level
For most people, it is quite flattering to have a photo or video taken at a sharp angle from below. This is why you need to place the camera as close to eye level as possible (for example, putting some large books under your laptop).
- Tip 7: Don’t walk around with your cell phone or tablet
If you are participating in a video conference with your cell phone or iPad, you should not hold the device in your hand and you should definitely not walk with it. The constantly moving background will drive other participants crazy! Put it in a fixed place!
Part 4: Behavior
- Tip 8: Get Connected Early!
Try to log in 10 minutes before the actual start of the conference, especially if you don’t work with video conferencing every day or if you are using a new video platform. This way, you will have plenty of time to download the software, if necessary, or to test/configure your light and microphone again. Grab a coffee or drink, settle in, and then you’re good to go on time.
- Tip 9: Everyone has their conference space
In a multi-party conference everyone should log in individually, there should not be multiple people at a PC / camera station. This is partly due to the reasons mentioned above and it also ensures that everyone is on an equal footing.
- Tip 10: Look at the camera when you speak
Every time we have conversations, we are used to looking at each other when we speak. You should look at the camera more often rather than looking at the video images of the other participants (or your own), particularly when you are speaking during a video conference so that the other participants feel that you are addressing them.
Tip: On my screen, I always place the Zoom window with the other participants right at the top edge of the screen “below” the camera so that I can look at it almost naturally.
- Tip 11: Check your background
Finally, let’s talk about the environment: even if you are at home in your running pants and shirt, you will be seen! And also your home!
So dress appropriately if you want to make a good impression. In my opinion, virtual funds are a stopgap (and they also kill your individuality entirely, which is a shame). But of course, you can also do fun things with a virtual background. For example, I always have someone to bring me water during Zoom conferences.