How to Use Interactive Video Conference for Your Business Meetings
Advancement in communication technology has presented the world with unbelievable costs effective and time saving face-to-face online meeting in interactive video conference. It is now possible to have a meeting with any number of people from any part of the world without necessarily traveling. You can now connect to anybody, anytime and anywhere for a meeting using internet connection (broadband) and a webcam or a smartphone with a front camera. The reliability of this technology has been tested and trusted over the years as more businesses are now investing in it. Interactive video conference is suitable for all types of businesses, whether small or large. The following tutorial will show you how to use interactive video conference for your business meetings.
2. What is an Interactive Video Conference?
An interactive video conference is an online live meeting between two or more parties using webcams, microphones, portable speakers and other relevant devices to enable real-time communication. This type of conference makes it possible to see and hear each other as if you are in the same room. It also allows sharing of documents and presentations among the participants in real time.
3. The Benefits of Interactive Video Conference
There are numerous benefits that your business will accrue by investing in an interactive video conference system. These benefits include:
• It saves on travel costs and time – You no longer have to incur travel expenses or spend time travelling to attend meetings. You can connect to your team members or clients from anywhere in the world as long as you have a good internet connection.
• It improves productivity – With interactive video conferencing, you can hold meetings that are shorter but more focused and hence increase productivity. Studies have shown that virtual meetings are 20% more productive than face-to-face meetings.
• It is eco-friendly – By holding virtual meetings, you will be doing your bit to save the environment as there will be less air travel which produces carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.
• It facilitates flexible work hours – Employees no longer have to work rigid office hours as they can attend virtual meetings from the comfort of their homes or while on the go. This increases job satisfaction and retention rates as employees will have a better work/life balance.
4. The Equipment You’ll Need for an Interactive Video Conference
For an effective interactive video conference, you will need the following equipment:
• Webcams – For high quality visuals, you need HD webcams that offer at least 720p resolution. Logitech HD Pro webcams are some of the best on the market and they start at around $100.
• Microphones – For clear audio, invest in good quality external microphones such as Blue Yeti USB microphones that retail at $129.99. If you’ll be using your laptop’s built-in microphone, position it close to you so that your voice is picked up clearly.
• Portable speakers – For enhanced sound during your video conference, use portable speakers such as Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speakers that cost $179.95.
• Headsets – To avoid distractions and background noise when using your webcam’s microphone, consider using headsets such as Jabra Evolve 40 MS stereo USB headsets that sell for $99.99.
5. How to Operate the Equipment for an Interactive Video Conference
The following is a step-by-step guide on how to set up and use the equipment for an interactive video conference:
1) Install the webcam’s software on your computer – if you’re using an external webcam. Most webcams come with installation CDs that you can use to install the relevant software on your computer.
2) Connect the webcam to your computer – if you’re using an external webcam. Once you’ve installed the software, connect the webcam to your computer using the USB cable that comes with it.
3) Turn on the webcam – if you’re using an external webcam. After connecting the webcam to your computer, locate the power button on the device and turn it on.
4) Open the video conferencing software – Once you’ve installed and turned on your webcam, launch the video conferencing software on your computer. Zoom and Skype are some of the most popular video conferencing software programs.
5) Sign in to your account – if you’re using Skype. If you don’t have a Skype account, create one by providing your name, email address and creating a password.
6) Add contacts – if you’re using Skype. Once you’re signed in, start adding contacts by clicking on the “Contacts” tab and then “Add a Contact”. You can search for contacts by their name, email address or Skype username.
7) Start a video call – if you’re using Skype. To start a video call, click on the “Calls” tab and then “Start a Video Call”. Alternatively, you can click on the contact that you want to call and then click on the “Video Call” button.
8) Adjust your settings – if you’re using Skype. Before starting your video call, take some time to adjust your settings such as microphone and webcam settings to ensure that everything is working properly. To access these settings, click on the “Tools” tab and then “Options”. Under “Audio Settings”, ensure that your microphone is not muted and that the volume is set at an appropriate level. Under “Video Settings”, check that your webcam is turned on and that the video quality is set to high.
9) Invite others to join your conference – if you’re using Zoom. If you’re using Zoom for your interactive video conference, start by launching the software and signing in to your account. Once you’re signed in, click on “New Meeting” to start a new conference. To invite others to join your conference, click on the “Invite” button and then select how you want to invite them such as by email or through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Alternatively, you can generate a link that you can send to them so that they can join the conference directly.
10) Join a meeting – if you’re using Zoom. If you’ve been invited to join a Zoom conference, launch the software and sign in to your account. On the main screen, enter the meeting ID or link that was sent to you and then click on “Join”. You will be prompted to choose whether you want to join with or without video. Choose whichever option is appropriate for you and then click on “Join Meeting”. Alternatively, you may be asked to enter your name and email address. Once you’ve done that, click on “Join Meeting”.
11) Start your conference – if you’re using Zoom. Once you’ve joined the conference, the host will have to start the meeting for you to start participating. To start the conference, click on “Start Meeting” at the bottom of your screen. If you’re the host, you will have the option of starting with or without video. Choose whichever option is appropriate for you and then click on “Start Meeting”. All the participants will now be able to see and hear each other.
12) Share your screen – if you’re using Zoom. During your conference, there may be a need to share your screen with the other participants. To do this, click on “Share Screen” at the bottom of your screen and then select whether you want to share your full screen or just a specific window. If you choose to share a specific window, select the window that you want to share from the list that appears. Once you’ve made your selection, click on “Share”. Your screen will now be shared with the other participants. To stop sharing your screen, click on “Stop Share” at the bottom of your screen.
13) Record your conference – if you’re using Zoom. If you want to record your video conference, click on “Record” at the bottom of your screen and then select whether you want to record locally or in the cloud. Local recording means that the recording will be saved on your computer while cloud recording means that it will be saved on Zoom’s servers. If you choose local recording, select the location where you want to save the recording and then click on “Start Record”. If you choose cloud recording, select whether you want to record with or without video and then click on “Start Record”. Your conference will now be recorded. To stop recording, click on “Stop Record” at the bottom of your screen.
6. Tips for a Successful Interactive Video Conference
For a successful interactive video conference, here are some tips that you should keep in mind:
• Test your equipment before the conference – To avoid technical hitches during your conference, ensure that all your equipment is working properly before the meeting starts. Test your webcam, microphone and speakers to ensure that they are all working as they should.
• Use a good internet connection – For a smooth video conference, you need a good internet connection. Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots as they are not always reliable. If possible, use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer directly to your router.
• Find a quiet place – To avoid background noise during your video conference, find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Let others know not to disturb you during the meeting so that you can concentrate on the discussion at hand.
• Dress appropriately – Even though nobody will see you from the waist down, it’s important to dress professionally from head to toe. This will help you feel more confident and focused during the meeting.
• Be aware of your body language – Just because others can’t see you doesn’t mean that they can’t tell how you’re feeling from your facial expressions and body language. Avoid looking distracted or disinterested as it will reflect in how others perceive you. Sit up straight, make eye contact with the camera and