Everyone is working or learning or doing something online in a new way these days.
And one of the biggest new things that people are doing now is Video Conferencing.
I am sure many of you have been in the odd video conference before. Or more likely, attended a webinar.
In some ways they are very much the same. I would say that a webinar is simply a larger video conference where one or two people are presenting and the majority of the rest are muted (both video and audio).
While in a video conference, you may not be muted at different times.
Depending on the interaction level needed, you may not be muted at any time.
When I say ‘muted’ I mean the person running the video conference has muted you, shut off either your audio or video feed so as not to disturb the other participants.
In some conferences they turn the mute off and on based on how needs to speak or who digitally raises their hand.
One big piece of advice is if you are in a video conference, mute your own audio right away. Even if the conference organizer has you muted, they may turn it back on and you may not know it.
And it stops a lot of feedback by simply having attendees mute their audio until they actually need to speak.
If you are using an external mike (vs one built into your laptop, phone or tablet) make sure your microphone is not in front of your speakers, as again when you try to use it to speak in the conference you will get feedback that way that can hurt the ears.
With video, unless it is a very small group, and you are sure you have good internet bandwidth, I would suggest to turn off your camera.
If you want to have some facial interaction, turn it on at the beginning when people are doing greetings and intros, but then turn it off after.
By having your video off, and others turning their video off, it should increase the quality of video of the presenter.
This was not always the case, especially if people had good internet connections. But now I am seeing lag to some extent in most video conferences and webinars and I feel all providers and even the internet itself is being highly taxed on bandwidth.
If you do leave your video on, then focus on the meeting. Otherwise people will see you distracted, doing other things, etc. You don’t want the boss thinking you are not paying attention.
If you are running a video conference and it is your first time, definitely try setting up and logging in to your video conferencing system before hand. Also get a friend or colleague to log in as a participant. And log in on another laptop, tablet or phone yourself so you can see how people enter, and what that process is like.
Many video conference systems are now enforcing a waiting room, so you need to actively allow people in, even though they have a meeting invite and/or a password.
You want to know how this all works before hand.
And test out your presentation beforehand to make sure everything works. Again log in on a different device and see what your presentation looks like from the other persons point of view.
If you are using any of the tools that come along with video conferencing systems, like chalkboards, highlighters, polls, quizzes, etc. then you should test these out as well. I was recently on a video conference where they had two or three polls set up and planned to use the ‘live’ results in the presentation, but the polls did not work for the viewers for some reason.
Lastly, don’t get too worried if things don’t all work perfectly. We are all new at this new normal. We are all accepting of how difficult technology can be at times.
The BEST advice is to be authentic, and have fun with it as you go. Yes get your business done, but also enjoy the process and relax and make the best of it. You are learning after all.