Urgent AV and Collaboration Advice Almost Everyone Ignores, Part 2
Coauthored with my colleague Bryan Hellard, Director of Engineering at Array Telepresence.
Continuing our top 10 pieces of advice that few people heed, we’re going to delve into what UC users tend to ignore when collaborating online. Numbers 1 to 5 covered setting up the technology. Ignore those useful nuggets at your peril.
6. Know what you look like. Be sure to be in the camera’s field of view.
A few years ago, it became popular to omit or not use “self-view” with video systems. Bad idea. Although looking at one’s self may be distracting for a bit (especially if a participant is self-conscious), it is much better than when those on the far side only see half your face…or see you from your shoes to your knees…or see you on a shot so zoomed-out from across the room that you might as well be using a lousy webcam. Before the conference starts, make sure you’re within the camera’s field of view with an acceptable shot. Otherwise, it makes videoconferencing pointless.
7. Don’t be distracting, and if you have to make noise, use the mute button.
Listening to someone eat, shuffle papers or have a side conversation while trying to pay attention to someone speaking is a horrible experience. All the sounds come out of the speaker relatively equally. It’s a lot of unnecessary work trying to stay with a presentation while someone is serenading us with his lunch. Don’t be that someone. (Bryan wrote a blog about just such an experience.)
8. Embedded PC/tablet/smartphone webcams need to be kept still.
It’s great that you can use a notebook/tablet or other portable device to participate in a videoconference, but portable means you can carry it around when you need to. It doesn’t mean you can carry it around like you’re some sort of cinematographer. People tend to forget that the people on the other side are trying to concentrate on the conversation, not the changing scenery and earthquakes you’re distracting them with. So every time you pick up your laptop to walk into another room, remember that everyone else on the call is getting dizzy from your roller coaster simulation.
9. Use a headset for personal videoconferences.
It seems obvious, but no one wants to hear your conference. Not your co-worker in the next cube or office, not your family in the next room when you’re working from home, not even the family dog. Absolutely awesome headsets, such as the Plantronics Voyager Legend UC, are about a hundred bucks and can be used for your phone, PC and tablet, too. Splurge. Everyone (and we mean everyone) will thank you.
10. Finally, try really hard to ignore bad videoconferencing advice.
Too many articles about “videoconferencing best practices” are written by people who don’t know actual videoconferencing best practices. If the “best practices” listed involve wearing pants, turning on the lights and/or not having clutter in the background, you can pretty much skip the article.