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video conference

How to host a video conference

Who needs an office anymore? With most people now working from home, video calls have become essential for businesses to run and employees to stay in touch. With remote working...

Who needs an office anymore? With most people now working from home, video calls have become essential for businesses to run and employees to stay in touch. With remote working now the norm, downloads of video conferencing apps have seen a sharp increase. A report from AppAnnie has found that there were 62 million downloads of business apps across iOS and Google Play during the week of March 14th-21st worldwide. This is an increase of 90% from the weekly average of business app downloads in 2019. The increase was also the highest growth among any categories across the app stores that week.

Meetings still need to take place even when people are working from home and video conferencing apps allow them to continue. However, video conferences are not the same as in-person meetings. New problems can arise that wouldn’t happen in face-to-face meetings due to connection and technology issues. Someone’s internet connection could drop out meaning they miss important information or you could find people talking over each other as they can’t hear. Here are some best practices for when you host a video conference.

Create an agenda

It’s important that you create an agenda for the meeting and let the people who will be in the meeting know what the agenda is beforehand. This will give attendees time to prepare for the meeting and let them know what to expect. When the meeting starts, you don’t have to then explain what the meeting is about. The agenda doesn’t have to be too long as people don’t have much time to read over but it should briefly explain the points to discuss. You can add the agenda to the video conference invite that you email to attendees.

Test Equipment

It’s not a great look when you’re hosting a video conference and go to log in to the software to find out you have a problem. This is especially important if you’re hosting a meeting with a new or potential client where first impressions count. Don’t leave it until just before the meeting starts to test either. Give yourself enough time that if something isn’t working, you have time to fix it or if you’re not able to, re-schedule or change the video meeting to a phone call.

If you’re hosting on your mobile phone:

  • Make sure you have a strong signal and there is no interference.

If you’re hosting on your computer:

  • Use a wired ethernet connection if possible which is more reliable than WiFi
  • Ensure your camera is working. (If you have no picture, make sure it isn’t covered!)
  • Test your speakers or headphones
  • Decide if you are using your built-in microphone, a plug-in microphone or your headphone’s microphone and make sure it works

Join the video meeting with plenty of time before it starts so that you can test all of these. You could even find when you open the video conferencing software that an update is needed so you should allow time for this.

You can afford for your camera quality to not be perfect, however, audio quality is very important. Make sure whichever microphone you choose to use, the audio is clear so people can understand what you are saying.

Location, Location, Location

Everyone has now seen the infamous BBC interview of the children running in mid-interview. If you’re one of the very few that hasn’t, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!? Here it is anyway…

With most people now working from home, this is what everyone dreads whenever they join a video meeting. It’s not always possible to stop things like these from happening however you can take steps to minimise the risk. It’s also important to remember that it’s not just people walking in when you’re in a meeting. Think about your surroundings and the sounds that might get picked up on your microphone. Has your neighbour become a DIY expert over the last few weeks and your window is open? Do you have a star baker in the house whose alarm is due to go off during your meeting? Or maybe your partner is having a shower and the door is open as they are coming out? Find a room where noise is kept to a minimum and also make use of the mute mic option when you are not talking.

When you host a video conference, you should also think about what attendees can see (or in some cases can’t see). Make sure you are in a well-lit room so you can be seen so people don’t think you’re working out of a cave. When you’re testing your video, make sure there isn’t anything in the background that you wouldn’t want anyone to see. A poster of your favourite band from the 90s might be a good background for a YouTube fan channel, but not great when you’re meeting with clients. Always remember that your camera is on or you could get caught out like in this video.

Make sure you can be heard

You’ve tested your connection and microphone and all is working. However, not everyone in the video meeting may have such a strong connection. Even if you can clearly hear everyone in the meeting, it may not be the same for everyone. Don’t shout, but make sure you speak loudly and clearly so everyone can hear you. We’ve mentioned the use of the mute mic button when you’re not talking. However, don’t forget that you’ve pressed it. Talking whilst your mic is muted isn’t the best look where people can just see your lips moving and no sound. It also means that you’ll have to repeat what you’ve said.

Don’t get distracted

If you were in a face-to-face meeting with a client, you wouldn’t start scrolling through Facebook or start texting a friend. Even though you’re not in the same room, your camera is on and everyone in the meeting will notice if you get distracted and start doing something else. You should also keep typing on your laptop to a minimum during video calls especially if you are using your computer’s microphone which is usually found next to the keyboard. This will remove any chance of anyone hearing an annoying noise of you tapping away when they are trying to listen to someone talking.

Ensure your screen is professional when sharing

An advantage of hosting a video conference rather than over the phone is that you can walk through work you have done for a client. By sharing your screen, you can show them what you have done and they can ask questions while you make changes. However, make sure you have closed any tabs with sensitive information that the video attendees shouldn’t see. If you are using your personal computer, make sure your background is professional and you don’t have any tabs saved on your browser that you wouldn’t want anyone to see.

Dress appropriately

Even though you’re working from home, you’re still working. You wouldn’t turn up to a face-to-face meeting with a client in your gym clothes or a t-shirt you haven’t changed all week. When you host a video conference, dress as if you are going to meet them face-to-face.

By following these simple video conferencing best practices, there’s no reason for not being able to have face-to-face meetings with your clients or potential clients affect your business.

Written by: Thomas Coughlan
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