Videoconferencing Product

The Technical Side of Participating in a Video Meeting

By Tom Banks

Video conferencing is a game changer for team collaboration– when it runs smoothly. But what about when things go wrong? Slow internet speeds, poor quality equipment, and inexperience with your chosen conferencing tool can all lead to annoying technical mishaps during important video calls. This is exactly why you should take the time to get yourself up to speed with the technical side of video conferencing. A couple of mins preparation with some very easy to perform checks will help you get the most out of your meeting experience.


Checking your internet speed

If you want to avoid poor quality video, it’s essential to check your internet speed before your start. But how fast does your Internet upload speed have to be to ensure seamless video? There’s no hard or fast rule that answers this question as it all depends on the quality you’re looking for. But as a minimum speed for reasonable performance that lets you be productive and efficient, you would need a connection of around 768kbps This would give you standard definition (SD) and luckily, most local internet networks can manage this. If you want to guarantee your call won’t be interrupted by any lagging, you should try to aim for an internet speed of 1.5 Mbps or above.


Upload speed vs download speed

Don’t forget the difference between upload and download speeds. For video calls, both download and upload speed are important. Since upload speed is what determines the quality of the video you send to the person(s) you’re speaking with. The faster the upload speed, the higher the video quality. Download speeds, on the other hand, are important for viewers. A slow download speed means that live streams may buffer or lag.

 

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Understanding the terms

Here’s a handy guide to some of the most common videoconferencing terms:


  • Mbps download - The number of megabits per second your connection allows you to download.
  • Mbps upload - The number of megabits per second your connection can upload.
  • Latency - The number of milliseconds it takes for your Internet connection to respond to a command (e.g., a search query or a page loading).


Read more: Why invest in videoconferencing?

 

How can you check your internet speed?

For a more accurate reading of your internet speed, use a dedicated broadband checker rather than relying on your computer settings. There are loads of free tools to help you, including this one from Ookla.

Battling a bad wifi connection? Ask your service provider to change your bandwidth settings. While this might decrease the quality of your video, it will improve the stability of the call.

 

Do you have the right equipment?

You don’t need any extra equipment to join a video call – just a screen, a camera and a microphone. But it’s important to know exactly what you’re working with before you launch into a call, just to make sure there are no technical difficulties along the way.


Camera

Cameras come in two forms:

  • Webcams: Either built in on your computer or an external camera you plug in to your computer. These cameras reply on your computer to send and receive the video signal  
  • Purpose built videoconferencing units: These cameras are especially designed for professional videoconferencing. They have a built in “codec” with means they can send and receive your video signal directly (codec is a combination of the words “coder-decoder”). These devices are often called SIP/H.323 devices as this is the specific protocol they use to send information over the internet

Whichever type you’re using, it’s a good idea to remember these simple tips for effective meetings with video.


Built-in

  • Built-in cameras don’t have a wide angle lens, so try not to move around too much or you’ll disappear from view. After all, the golden rule of video meetings is that all participants should be in shot when they’re speaking for real, face-to-face communication.

  • Built-in webcams on many laptops can be low quality, which means you will never achieve a great quality video call, regardless of your internet speed.


External camera

  • External cameras might give you more freedom to refocus the lens, but be careful: not all angles are flattering.

  • Purpose built videoconferencing units (SIP/H.323 devices) will always offer the highest quality video thanks to their use of a dedicated network. Whether you want to use it for huddle rooms or an executive conference, try to make sure you always pick a device from industry leaders like Huawei, Cisco and Polycom to ensure the best quality

Read more: How to convince your boss you need videoconferencing

Sound

Good quality microphones are essential for a faultless video meeting. If you’re using a built-in microphone, make sure it’s working perfectly ahead of time. Or an even better option is to invest in a good headset or external microphone.


Screen

It might be tempting to use your laptop screen for a video meeting, but remember that your whole team has to be able to see what’s going on. Instead, try to use a mounted display for your video meetings. That way everyone can get involved.


Get to know your equipment before your call

Trust us, the start of the video call is not the time to figure things out on the fly. Whether you’re joining a meeting or hosting it, you should take time to get familiar with the tool well in advance. To make sure you’re completely confident, why not ask your provider for a demo? That way you can ensure you’re getting the most out of every feature of your video conferencing system.

Read more: How to plan for a successful video meeting

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by Tom Banks

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