Here are helpful tips to enhance your videoconferencing experience. For further information, please call 845-574-4593.
- Avoid busy or boldly patterned clothing. Avoid bold colors, especially red and black. Avoid jewelry that may brush against microphones or tabletops and cause feedback. Solid pastel colors are recommended.
- Allow participants a brief "practice session" to familiarize themselves with the equipment and set-up.
- Be polite and turn off beepers, watch alarms and cell phones.
- On rare occasions there may be problems with the connection or equipment. Alternate plans are advisable. In other words, have a backup plan for your meeting or class!
- When creating presentation materials such as agendas, charts, PowerPoint presentations, etc., use large fonts to compensate for best results. Fonts that are smaller than 14-point Courier can be difficult to see.
- If you already have presentation material prepared that might not be legible on the far end (the remote site), you can always fax a copy to the far-end rooms before the meeting. Sending the presentation materials ahead is in itself a good idea anyway.
- Appoint a meeting facilitator. Just like a "live" meeting, a videoconference meeting can get out of control unless somebody takes the job of traffic cop. The facilitator can also take responsibility for muting and un-muting the microphone and adjusting the camera. For collaborative computing (data conferencing), it is especially important that everyone knows who has control of the presentation.
- Set clear objectives regarding what will be accomplished in the session and communicate them to participants.
- Be on time.
- Listen to the ground rules regarding your videoconference as outlined by the presenter/facilitator
- Restrict movement as much as possible. Excessive movements are disruptive to viewers at the far site.
- Participants should remain quiet unless called upon. The microphones pick up every noise. This includes side conversations, rustling papers, moving chairs, etc. Your noise may cut out the audio. Remember you are always on camera!
- Make sure that all the participating sites can see and hear you. Speak up and don't hesitate to ask other participants to speak up if necessary.
- Talk slowly and clearly in order to be understood. Wait for the other site to finish talking before replying.
- Direct your voice toward the microphones. The audio is received better at the far end.
- Allow for a two-second transmission delay when speaking; pause after the end of your comments to allow time for remote sites to respond to a question or comment.
- Direct questions or comments to a particular person or site (especially important in multipoint conferences).
- If participating in a large multipoint meeting, it is advised that you state your name and location each time you speak.
- Avoid side conversations.
- In a multi-site call, mute the local microphone when other sites are presenting or speaking for a period of time. This will prevent excessive background noise being sent to the other site.
- Announce actions to the far end when possible -- let them know when you plan to mute your microphones, leave the room, or when someone has entered the room but is not visible on screen.
- Expect some technical issues – have patience when technical issues arise.
Video Display (Dual Monitor System)
- You will see the remote site (far end) and any data that they present displayed on your front left monitor (unless they are sharing an application with you -- in that case, the application will appear on your front right monitor).
- You will see yourself or any data that you present displayed on the front right monitor.
- When interacting with the far end, look into the eyes of the person(s) at the far end as though you are in the same room with them -- the cameras are positioned for this natural interaction.
- If a third monitor is set up at the back of the room, this is used to display the remote site for a speaker or presenter standing at the front of the room, facing the local audience.
- Multipoint videoconferences will have differing video displays -- the facilitator or presenter of a multipoint videoconference should explain the video display for all participants at the start of a multipoint conference.
Audio and Microphone
- Try to minimize unnecessary noise while videoconferencing -- keep coughing, tapping, and paper shuffling to a minimum or mute your microphone(s).
- All microphones should be placed at least three feet away from the front videoconferencing units to avoid echo/feedback issues.
- Audio interaction for participants is made possible through the use of push-to-talk microphones.
- On rare occasions, the presenter's microphone may be used for a very small number of participants -- the presenter's microphone is always on and is not recommended for use during multipoint meetings due to possible feedback/echo problems.
- Typically, one push-to-talk microphone can be shared by two participants.
- A push-to-talk microphone is active or "on" when the red light is visible.
- A push-to-talk microphone is inactive or "off" if the red light is not visible.
- There are three microphone modes for the push-to-talk microphones -- Momentary On (microphone is momentarily on while red strip at base of microphone is pressed and held), Momentary Off (microphone is momentarily off while red strip is pressed and held), and Touch On/Off (red strip is touched once to activate, then touched again to deactivate).
- The microphone mode is usually carefully selected by the presenter or facilitator prior to the videoconference --participants are advised not to change the microphone mode unless asked to do so by the presenter or facilitator.
(Videoconferencing tips from Emory University and Texas State College)