Some years ago I worked for a company demonstrating video conferencing software. This was at a time when video conferencing was in it’s infancy and long before video could reliably be compressed to be delivered via an internet connection to a mobile device (or even reliably to a laptop). As part of a team effectively “selling” video conferencing equipment when each terminal cost £5,000 or more it was important to make the experience of the customer (at the remote end) as realistic as possible.
Here are a few tips to improve your video conferencing experience which may be useful now that thousands of us are working from home due to the Covid-19 virus. :
- Make the best use of your Internet bandwidth. Use a wired connection if possible, if this isn’t practical and your home router supports 5GHz as well as 2.4GHz, try to connect to the 5GHz network which tends to be faster to try to reduce jitter, blockiness and video stalls.
- To improve sound quality, use a headset rather than the laptop microphone and speakers and position the microphone approximately 10cm from your mouth.Try to avoid breathing directly into the microphone to reduce those loud “breathing noises” at the far end.
- Avoid wearing clothes with a complex pattern (especially check and striped patterns). This helps you to avoid the moiré effect.
- Make sure that you are well lit and avoid sitting in front of a window (backlighting is usually bad). Be aware of the time of day and try to avoid sitting in direct sunlight. Indirect lighting tends to be more flattering 🙂
- Ideally use a “proper webcam” rather than a laptop webcam. Especially if you’re using multiple screens. Put the camera at eye level on top of the screen where you will view the remote person. This means that when you look at their image, you create the illusion that you are looking at them. This makes the remote person feel more connected to you and has the benefit of ensuring that the remote person isn’t looking directly up your nose (like in my picture below).
- To improve the illusion of eye contact with the person that you are meeting, resize the remote video so that it is as small as possible and put the remote image directly underneath the webcam.
- Try to de-clutter so that the background is as plain as possible. Alternatively use the “screen blur” options in videoconferencing software like MS Teams so that people pay attention to you and not the background.
- Join calls on “mute” and “unmute” just before you want to speak. This avoids the people at the remote end listening to you cursing and swearing because you can’t get the microphone to work. It also prevents interruptions such as a a ringing phone or doorbell from switching the focus to you when you don’t want to be the centre of attention.