Picture This: A Guide to Setting Up Your Best Video Conference
Posted on August 3, 2014
You could be forgiven for thinking that a “video conference” is an unglamorous ordeal occasionally witnessed during films from the 1980s.
Surely everyone simply “skypes” these days, right? Well, that’s not quite true. Whilst there will be many circumstances in which a quick chat using your laptop’s built-in camera and microphone will do just fine, the formalised video conference still has its place.
For larger business meetings and corporate events, it is crucial to get the audio visual setup just right. This is something the team at Perception Live know a lot about. Having been in the technical event production business for the last decade, mastering conference planning, equipment and AV, they have had the “Goldilocks experience”, testing various setups and equipment to get video conferencing “just right”.
The modern video conference essentially falls under one of two categories:
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- The temporary setup – at minimum, this could consist simply of a couple of people communicating with their laptops’ built-in webcams and microphones in any available space.
- The permanent boardroom installation – this setup is arranged in a room that has no other purpose than to host video conferences and meetings in general. Equipment can range from the minimal to the sophisticated with soundproof tiled boardrooms, multiple lighting fixtures and state of the art microphones.
Video conferences remain an important tool for small and large businesses alike. Whether you’re more of a on-the-go conferences or are looking to invest in a permanent boardroom installation, there are usually simple measures that will vastly improve the quality of your video conference.
Invest with Interest
Seeing as video conferences save you money as well as time, if you invest in quality equipment in order to make the experience as close to a real life meeting as possible, just one investment could end up paying for itself in no time.
After all, outdated technology can cause problems which negate many of the beneficial aspects of video conferencing.
Light Makes Right
Lighting is an incredibly important and often overlooked factor in the world of video conferencing.
When the lighting is not taken into account, it can make a company with the best conferencing equipment look like amateurs.
- Do not allow any kind of light to shine directly into your camera.
- Do not have focal points for your lighting where certain areas are stark or directly illuminated and others are underlit.
- Try not to use a room with external windows.
- If you have no alternative to using a room with external windows, ensure there are vertical solar-blocking or black-out drapes or blinds with minimal to no fabric patterns.
- Do use indirect and/or diffused fluorescent lighting systems either separately or together to provide a thorough sense of lighting.
Try to use a room that has plenty of sound-absorbing furnishings that will reduce unpleasant sound elements such as echo and reverberation. If you do not have enough material to soak up the excess noise, it could ruin the clarity of your communication.
Good choices for unwanted audio absorption include carpeting, drapes and even the installation of soundproof tiles. Soundproof tiles may have sounded like a futuristic requirement for video conferences a few years ago but many businesses find them indispensable.
You should also take care to speak directly into the microphone and make sure that your microphone is capable of delivering a clear and consistent level of sound. Also, refrain from touching the microphone while it’s in use and don’t place it near any speakers unless you want the Jimi Hendrix feedback effect.
It’s important that you’re getting the full picture when communicating via video conference. So you should make sure your viewing quality is nothing less than desirable.
Here you can go down two routes: projection or screen. Which you choose may depend on your room. Projectors work best for larger spaces, where there is some space between the screen and the equipment. They’re also most effective in rooms where you can control external lighting.
Projectors may be expensive but with a powerful lumens count (the lumens create a stronger source of light than the existing amount in the room), they are unparalleled when it comes to clear visuals and an absence of glare.
To match the projector, you should have a large projector screen or otherwise white, smooth surface.
TV screens tend to be better solutions for smaller, brighter spaces, but pay attention to where you position your screen to minimise any potential glare. Also think about how you will connect to the screen and where you will position the cables.
Whilst you may not want to go to all these lengths for smaller video meetings, ensuring you get your audio visual setup just right will considerably improve the overall quality of your online communications.
If you are going to conference often, and on a larger scale, it’s worth getting some quotes for permanent boardroom installations. For the businessperson on the move, try to save the more serious conference calls for when you have reliable connections and access to a quiet, well-lit space.