On Video Calls

As more people start to isolate themselves we are turning to technology to connect more than we have ever done before. One of the most high bandwidth ways to connect is through video calls. I do a lot of video calls for work, so thought I’d share my experience and tips to help them go smoothly.

Muting

The most important thing to get right with a video call is the sound. It’s really important that the person who is trying to speak can be heard clearly. Therefore if you are in a noisy environment it’s best to have your microphone muted when you aren’t speaking.

Headphones

If you have more than one device connected to a call in the same space, it’s really important that you use headphones if you want to talk. If you don’t do this you will create a feedback loop. (This is because if you talk into one device and then it comes out of another, the first device will pick up the sound from the second and it will loop round).

Personally I find headphones immerse me in a conversation better and make it easier to focus on the call, so I would always recommend them if possible.

Conversations

When a call involves group discussion, it’s usually better to avoid having some people in the same location. The problem is that those people who are in the same location end up having discussions which can’t be heard by those who are joining remotely.

If you are in a call where you expect many people to speak, it is much better to have everyone join from their own device. This means everyone is interacting in the same way and ensures everyone can participate equally.

This can create strange situations where people in the same space end up going to different rooms for a call, but this is usually the best way to ensure that everyone can be involved equally.

Video

If possible its good to leave your video on so that the person who is speaking can see that you are listening and try to read the facial cues that would be normal in a real life conversation.

However sometimes if you have a poor internet connection, turning your video off might be a way to improve the quality of the call.

Microphones

If you really want to get fancy I would recommend using a headset with a boom mic (for example this one), as the sound quality really improves a lot when the microphone is close to your mouth.