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Virtual meetings and video conference calls have been a part of both professional and social communication for quite some time now, however, only recently did they see a spike in popularity due to the coronavirus pandemic that is currently shaking the world. While some have used the technology more than others, it can still seem a little daunting to suddenly move all your communication to the online medium. In an effort to help make things easier, below are a few tips to help you set up your next conference call.
Test your setup
By now you have most likely attended a few virtual conference calls and because of this, you have undoubtedly seen someone experiencing technical difficulties that have either delayed the meeting or have led to a less than ideal start. To avoid any issues, it is vital that you thoroughly test your setup well in advance and we recommend that you advise any other participants to do the same.
First and foremost is your internet connection, without a stable internet connection you will neither be able to broadcast yourself or view an online meeting so it is essential that you perform speed tests around your home to find where you can get the best connection. Ideally, you would want a hardwired connection to our router, but if that is not possible, try to at least have a line of sight with it as anything in the way can affect your WiFi signal. If you live with others, we also recommend that you ask them to refrain from downloading or streaming anything for the duration of your meeting.
Camera and lighting
Next up you will need to test your camera, be sure to test it in the same place you will be sitting for your meeting as lighting can drastically affect the quality of your video. As for lighting, natural light is best, but above all try to avoid having a light directly above or behind you as they can cast shadows over your face and make it hard to properly see you.
Finally, you need to consider your audio. While most modern laptops and some computers come with built-in microphones and speakers, we recommend that you purchase an external microphone and a pair of headphones. The external microphone will help to prevent background noise from being picked up, and the headphones are essential because without them it is likely that echoes from your speakers can be fed back into your mic for the rest of the meeting to hear.
You can test all of these aspects via your computer settings alone, but if possible, we always recommend jumping into a quick test call with a co-worker or friend to make sure everything is working properly in a live environment.
Update your background
One great advantage that comes with applications like Zoom, is the ability to use a virtual background to prevent anyone from seeing what is behind you, for zoom virtual background images – Hello Backgrounds provides hundreds of choices for any occasion. Whether you want to hide sensitive information behind you, avoid distractions caused by people or pets walking around, or even if you simply want to hide an untidy room, virtual backgrounds are a must-have for any virtual meeting.
Make a plan
Planning ahead is important for any meeting, but even more so for virtual ones due to the fact that it is far easier for participants to get distracted and go off track. While it may seem a little old fashioned, creating an agenda is a great way to ensure things keep moving forward. Your agenda can be time-sensitive or not, but it should at least include the reason for the meeting, the main points you wish to discuss, and the overall goal you want to achieve. We also recommend that you forward the agenda to any other participants so everyone can prepare themselves accordingly.
Use the tech available
In addition to virtual backgrounds, there are also plenty of other tools you can use in virtual meetings to help share information and make your life easier. For example, screen sharing is a great way to effortlessly share information, virtual whiteboards are a great way to discuss topics and brainstorm ideas, and cloud-based storage solutions are the perfect way to collaborate on files with other co-workers.
Record your calls
Finally, one of the best advantages that virtual meetings offer is the ability to record your meeting at the touch of a button. While this may not be the best idea in situations where privacy is important, for everyday team meetings it is a great way to keep people updated if they were unable to attend the meeting live.