Video Conferencing while Working from Home

relaxing living area

By: Justin Carter

During this time of change and uncertainty, many of us have had to self-quarantine to comply with shelter-in place and distancing directives, and to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. This means not getting together with friends and family in person, or even working from the office. In doing so we have adapted, and turned to a wonderful thing known as video conferencing, using various services such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and Cisco’s WebEx to name a few.

Within this new “normal”, many professionals may not be familiar with video conferencing best practices, before the mandated self-quarantine. This may be due to never having used them before. This article aims to identify those best practices.

Best Practices

Firstly, and most importantly, when you do anything online you should never assume that it is safe and secure. Anything that sends data via a public internet feed has the potential of being hacked or hijacked. This includes anything you put on social media, send in emails, speak over an IP phone, or even within a video conferencing system.

As such, one best practice is to never share anything on your screen that may contain proprietary or confidential information, Protected Health Information (PHI), or Personally Identifiable Information (PII), etc. If you do need to share these types of data it is best to transmit that information to other parties via secure email, secure file transfer, or even save to an encrypted flash drive to mail to the other party.

Suggestions

Secondly, if you are working from home, there are a few suggestions to make your video conferencing successful.

  • Hardwire your internet connection. This helps you avoid any issues with an unstable Wi-Fi connection, which can affect your audio quality and the overall attendee experience.
  • Test the audio before your meeting begins. This ensures your speakers and mic are working properly before the live event starts.
  • Minimize background noise.  Try to host your meeting in a quiet place. If you must be in a loud environment, using a headset with a mic often reduces background noise more so than your computer’s built-in microphone. In fact, a headset is a general best practice for higher-quality audio than other built-in options.
  • Dress to impress. You’ll be on camera, so be sure to wear business, or business casual attire, and be aware of visible background items. We recommend solid colors as opposed to garments with patterns. Be mindful of any accessories or jewelry if you are expressive with your hands as the noise and movement can be quite distracting. Also, though it may not need to be said, wear pants! If you need to stand up, you should not flash your attendees and colleagues.
  • Set proper expectations. Create a clear meeting title and description for the content that will be discussed. Make sure you cover the content that was promised in the invite, or promotions leading up to the digital event.
  • Start on time. We recommend you start your event 5 minutes early to allow your attendees to join before the meeting is set to start. The host should let attendees know when the event will begin and if the content will be recorded and shared afterward.

What the Guru Suggests

Daniel Wass, a webinar and video conferencing guru, has reviewed and analyzed over a half million webinars, and video conferencing recordings. He has come up with some additional items to make your experience safe, successful, and yes, even fun.

Daniel suggests starting out any video conference or webinar with an icebreaker of some sort. This will help the attendees to be more engaged in the conversation or message. Furthermore, he states that of all the digital communication methods video conferencing, live stream, and webinars are the most successful methods as they allow for a more personal experience. This “Face to Face” experience will generate much higher engagement with the members of the meeting.

“Video conferencing and live streaming events, generate more trust in individuals who attend.” – Daniel Wass.

Daniel suggests some of the following items to get you setup to host or attend video conferences, live streaming, and webinars. Ensuring you have the proper equipment and environment will help ensure the best experience possible.

Ideal Setup

Daniel, and others who host and attend digital events, suggest the following to get started.

  1. Computer
  2. USB Headset
    1. Wired versus Bluetooth seems to provide a better audio quality, you will just have to be mindful of a cord. Bluetooth is acceptable as well.
      1. Recommended model: Plantronics HW251N Headset.
    2. USB Webcam
      1. HD is ideal for best quality.
        1. Recommended model: Logitech C930e.
      2. A Quiet location
        1. If that is your guest bedroom, that is totally acceptable.
        2. You want a background that is uncluttered and clean.
        3. If you are in the basement or garage, you can get a photo backdrop. A telescoping frame, rolled backdrop, or solid colored sheet/blanket hung with a few clamps will work wonders.
        4. Business, or business casual, apparel is ideal. Stay away from pinstripe, or wild and busy patterns as they can look strange on camera.

What Research Shows

Daniel also mentioned that based on millions of meetings analyzed, there are better times than others for meetings. GoToMeeting, and GoToWebinar research indicates that meetings and participants are usually more engaging and successful when they are held on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. The times depend on your time zone, but the below graphic will demonstrate the best engagement times across the US.

Video Conferencing best times - United States Map with Time Zones

I hope this article, "Video Conferencing while Working from Home", helped provide a better understanding of the standards that business professionals should follow while hosting or attending a video conference, live stream event, or webinar. If you have any questions, or need help getting setup at home or in your office, please let us know.  If you are interested in partnering with a Managed Service Provider, please contact us and we would be happy to perform a FREE network assessment.

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