FAQ: Video Conferencing Best Practices

10 Tips for participating successfully in an online meeting.

Tip 1: Test before the time

Even people who participate in online meetings often, sometimes run into problems when it comes to connecting virtually. It is critical to test your setup before the meeting starts. Organisers will often open the room a bit earlier than the official meeting start time, sign in and see that your microphone, sound, and video works. If there is a problem, you might still be able to fix it before the meeting commences.

Sometimes organisers offer dedicated testing time well in advance of the meeting (a few days prior for example). Take them up on the offer and sign in to ensure your setup works. You may have to download an app or adjust your computer’s settings. It’s better to find out about this a day or two early, rather than at the start of an important or interesting meeting.

Tip 2: Join the meeting a few minutes early

Just like an in-person meeting, organisers normally want the meeting to start on time. It helps a lot if participants have signed into the room and tested their audio/video a few minutes before the official start of the meeting. Be respectful of other people’s time.

Tip 3: Find a quiet spot to join the meeting from

Background noise and movement can be very distracting during an online meeting. If your background is noisy, it may be difficult or even impossible for you to participate actively in the meeting, as the organiser will encourage you to keep your microphone muted to minimise the noise for other particpants. It may also be hard for other participants to hear your questions and contributions if you are in a noisy environment. Ask a colleague to use their office, visit the library and see if they have quiet rooms where you may join online meetings, or contact your IT department to find a suitable meeting room.

Tip 4: Keep your microphone muted

All online meeting software have the option for the user to mute their microphone. The button typically looks something like this: microphone

Once the microphone is muted, it will look something like this: mute microphone

Make sure your microphone is muted whenever you are not speaking. It will greatly improve the sound in the meeting for everyone as it minimises distraction caused by background noises. Remember to unmute your microphone when you want to talk. It may also be possible for the meeting administrator to mute and unmute participants’ microphones.

Tip 5: Connect to cable internet if possible

Wifi may not be stable and might be the cause of poor experiences with online meetings. Connecting your laptop/computer to the internet via a cable during your online meetings, is strongly encouraged if possible. If you are unable to connect to the internet via cable, test the wifi connection in your location prior to the meeting to ensure it will be strong enough to conduct an online meeting. Remember all wifi connections aren’t equal. Sound and video put much more strain on the network, than transmitting text (e.g. when you’re browsing the internet). You may have to move around or find a different spot to connect from if your wifi isn’t strong enough to support an online meeting.

Tip 6: Switch off the camera if the connection is poor

An online meeting can still be very successful without video streaming. If you find that your internet connection is poor, switch off your video by clicking on this icon in your video conferencing platform: video The most important thing about an online meeting, is to ensure participants can hear each other. In some cases video may be essential but it’s very seldom critical. Screen sharing my be sufficient if required.

Tip 7: Use a headset (earphones)

To improve your own abiltiy to follow what is going on in the meeting, as well as to help minimise background noise for other participants, you are encouraged to use a headset when participating in an online meeting. High quality headsets will improve the experience, but the regular earphones used for your mobile phone, will already be a great improvement over no headset.

Tip 8: Think about your background

Once you have decided where you’ll sit during the online meeting, look behind your seat and observe what others in your meeting will see. Remember your camera has a wide angle.

  • Sitting in front of a window is not encouraged as the light will shine from behind and will prevent other participants from seeing your facial expression and other body language (they will most likely only see your profile against the light). It is very useful for others to be able to see body language.
  • If you have a dark complexion, try to find a lighter background. This will again help others to pick up on facial expression and other body language.
  • Remember to remove personal items (e.g. washing, etc) that may be in the line of sight of the camera to prevent embarrassment

Tip 9: Adjust your camera to show your face

Once you are connected, you should be able to see a ‘self view’. This is a live image showing you what others will see when your camera is activated. Make sure that your mouth and eyes are included in the picture. This is much more helpful than looking at an image of your neck or forehead. If you are in the privileged position to use the camera during an online meeting, make sure you get all the value from having that camera available. It is tremendously useful for others in the meeting to be able to see your face properly, as they will be able to read your facial expression and body language better.

Tip 10: Don’t give up

If your online meeting didn’t go the way you had hoped, don’t give up. Try again. Online meetings can be life changing and can provide you an opportunity to connect to people all over the world. Ask for help, think about the meeting and what you could change next time.

We hope you will be enjoying your next online meeting!