5 Tips for a Better Video Conference
The rise in remote working has brought forward the need for new technologies to help businesses adapt, as the days of being limited to working in the office are long gone now. One of the most important aspects technology focuses on is virtual meetings; to be able to function well, businesses need to have a platform over which employees can communicate.
Virtual meetings happen on a platform that offers video conferencing with high quality, as close as possible to face-to-face meetings. But if you've ever participated in a video conference, you probably know the hassle that can be caused by the lack of organization before and during the call.
However, with the right amount of preparation, a video conference will efficiently bridge the distance between employees and help a business maintain its productivity. If you make sure to prepare for and organize the meeting beforehand, you will avoid weak connections, awkward pauses, lack of structure, and more.
It only requires some effort on your part and cooperation from other employees with some set ground rules. Here are our tips for better virtual meetings:
Use Video Calls Only for Discussions
Before getting into the tips for what you need to do before and during a video conference, it is worth mentioning that sometimes there are better options for a meeting.
If the purpose is to socialize with other employees, a video conference may not be the wisest choice. Virtual meetings require a strong internet connection and can sometimes be expensive, so you need to make sure you only make video calls when there is an actual discussion you need to have with colleagues. The rule of thumb is that if what you want to say can be said over the phone or through messages, you may want to reconsider your choice of a video conference.
Schedule Calls Ahead
You should try to avoid abrupt meetings as much as possible. Try to schedule calls and meetings in advance, preferably a few days ahead of the meeting time. This way, everyone can clear their schedules to adjust to your meeting if possible, and if not, they can notify you in advance so you can decide what to do about it.
It is also helpful to provide a purpose for and a general description of the meeting. You don't have to create a professional guideline; you only need to send out the headlines of the topic you need to talk about. This can help minimize the time wasted in the meeting, as your employees can come prepared about the discussion topic. Things you can provide include background information, links, documents, videos, and other resources that can help with preparation. You can choose whatever material you want to send based on what you are expecting in the meeting.
Test the Software Before the Time of the Meeting
You have probably been in a video conference where the first thirty minutes, if not more, were wasted trying to get everyone on board, making sure their microphone is working, they can hear you, their camera is on, and for other technical reasons.
The quality of your call mainly depends on the software you are using, as some business phone systems will let you enjoy your video conference with no lag while allowing a big number of participants in the call, and others will not be able to handle the smallest of calls. So understand the features of your VoIP system well before making any purchase.
In addition to that, your call's quality also relies on the guidelines you give to your employees about virtual meetings; you should create clear guidelines of how to create an account, install the software or app, join a call, enable microphone and camera access, and so on. You should ask everyone to join before the actual time of the meeting to test their software and make sure everything is working well and to familiarize themselves with its features.
If you are using a free version of a VoIP phone system, make sure you inform the participants of the limitations; for example, if you use the free version of Zoom, your call has a limit of 40 minutes, after which the meeting will drop. This way, everyone will be prepared and will know when to join the next session.
Choose a Person in Advance to Facilitate the Call
To avoid having to deal with the hassle of multiple participants speaking at the same time with no order, you should choose one person to facilitate the call and keep it in order. This person can guide the discussion and the interaction between participants. This will also help make sure everyone gets to have their turn and never get spoken over. As some people may try to dominate the discussion, the facilitator can limit them to a certain amount of time, after which they must stop.
More Tips for Participants
Participants also need to try to make it work from their side by adopting "virtual meeting etiquette." It is easy to accidentally speak over someone or have someone speak over you in a video conference, wasting time and leaving participants frustrated for not being heard. Some of the tips everyone in the meeting should follow are:
- Use a headset if possible: If you are working from a place with so much noise, using a headset can help block out some of that noise to help other participants converse easily. It will also help improve the sound quality for you and for everyone in the meeting.
- Mute yourself when not speaking: Even if you are not speaking, your microphone can pick up the background noise around you. So, always keep your microphone muted unless you want to talk.
- Keep your camera on: Most conferences will have an always video-on policy. But even if it is optional, it is always better to keep your camera on, as seeing other participants makes the conference easier for everyone and closer to a face-to-face meeting.
- Have the right light: Always frame the camera correctly and look right into it when speaking or being spoken to.
- Pay attention: It is so important to show the facilitator and other speakers that you are paying attention to what they are saying. So make sure not to get distracted by things around you or by your cell phone during the conference.
The Best VoIP Phone Systems for Video Conferences
As mentioned before, the quality of a video conference depends mainly on the software you are using. So to ensure great quality, you should pick the best VoIP system for your business. We have done our research on the best VoIP systems when it comes to video calls:
Ooma is one of the biggest VoIP providers on the market. They have four plans designed to help businesses grow; the Ooma Office Pro plan comes with multiple features that can benefit your business.
Ooma Office Pro
This is a plan for small and mid-sized businesses, and it is an upgraded version of the Ooma Office plan; it charges $24.95 per user per month and includes many features, including:
- Video conferencing
- Call recording
- Voicemail transcription
- Caller info match
- Call analytics
- Call through Ooma's desktop app
- 3-click provision
- 24/7 support
- 99.999% uptime with SLA
- LTE Primary and Failover connectivity
- Advanced business phone features
- Single or multi-location
Video conferencing with Ooma has its own list of features that make it the best option for your business. These features include:
- Screen Sharing: The host can share their desktop screen and can allow certain participants to share theirs.
- Chat: Participants can send each other unlimited messages during the video call.
- Mute Options: The host can choose to mute a certain participant or all participants.
- One-time and Recurring Meetings: You can schedule a one-time meeting or a recurring meeting to be available as frequently as needed.
- Meet Now for Ad Hoc Meetings: Anyone can join in for a sudden unplanned meeting using your unique meeting ID.
- Password Option: You can choose to set a password for your meeting and share it only with those who you want to be in the meeting.
Dialpad offers three VoIP plans that offer features for different business sizes and needs. Our top pick plan with the best value is the Talk Pro plan:
Dialpad Talk Pro plan
This plan starts at $25 per user per month, and it includes all the features in the basic plan plus:
- CRM integration
- Unlimited meetings
- Local number supported in over 50 countries
- Hold ques
- International SMS
- Desk phone support
- Slack, Zapier, and Zendesk integration
- 25 ring groups
- 24/7 phone support
Dialpad offers specific features for virtual conferences, including:
- Mute Call Participants: You can be in full control of the call to reduce noise and increase productivity.
- Private Conference Calls: Dialpad provides high levels of encryption to keep your conference safe and private. You also get PINs, lobby alerts, and other features for more protection.
- Administrator Login for Meetings: You can choose to let someone schedule meetings and conference calls on your behalf.
RingCentral is a VoIP systems provider that offers multiple plans for different needs and financial abilities in addition to specific features for video conferencing. Their most popular plan is the Essentials plan.
This is the most basic and popular plan, and it allows up to 20 users only. You will be charged $19.99 per user per month if you pay annually. However, if you choose to pay monthly, you will be charged $29.99 per month per user. With this plan, you get the following features:
- Team messaging
- Unlimited calls within the United States and Canada
- Unlimited business SMS
- Document sharing
- Toll-free and business phone numbers
RingCentral offers multiple features regarding video conferencing, including:
- Interactive Screen Sharing: You can share your screen with up to 500 people; this includes sharing your desktops, files, presentations, applications, or whiteboards from your computers or smart devices.
- Breakout Rooms: The host can create up to 50 breakout sessions within the conference room. This helps with training by splitting participants into smaller groups.
- One-Click Scheduling: RingCentral integrates Microsoft Outlook; this means you can start, schedule, and update your meeting without leaving Outlook.