Video Conferencing Tips and Etiquette
August 27, 2008 @ 11:38 AM | By Brian Trampler & Sara O'Rourke

You were just told that you have to lead a video conference.  Is it time to panic?  Not at all, it is time to relax.  You won’t need to be on the road for hours, pack the night before, thinking about going through security, bringing your passport, or even making sure you wear a pair of socks that don’t have any threadbare spots for when you take off your shoes.  Instead, you can sleep in your own bed, show up at your own office the next day, and go home to your normal evening routine.

In order to help you relax, here are some tips and tricks that will help you to look your best, and create a lasting impression.  And in the process you’ll even discover how easy it is to be on camera and convey your message.

How to test the equipment:

  • Familiarize yourself with the equipment so you feel comfortable using it.  It doesn’t mean you need to be an expert, just knowing the basics can go a long way.
  • Make sure you have the video number(s) or IP address of the site you want to call or that the site is listed in a directory.
  • Set your camera presets before you start your call so you can quickly use them during the call.  Depending on the system you call, you may also be able to use the presets stored on the far-site system.
  • Add peripherals to your system to expand its use.  For example, you can add a DVD player if you want to show a DVD.  Connect and test your peripheral before any meeting.
  • Make sure someone is in the room 15 minutes prior to meeting start time to test audio and video connectivity.

Aug27lookgood How to look great on camera:

  • Avoid wearing bright colors or white because bright colors “bleed” over video and white will throw off the camera’s white balance.
  • Avoid “busy” patterns (such as small checks or narrow stripes) because they cause the camera’s focus to oscillate. Light pastels and muted colors look best on-screen.
  • If there are windows in the room, close any drapes or blinds. Daylight is a variable light source and can conflict with interior room lighting.
  • Verify that overhead lights and/or reflections are not in view.
  • Do not use rapid gestures when you speak.
  • Try to fill the camera’s screen as much as possible with people rather than tables, chairs, walls, lights, etc. .

How to make that content shine:

  • Check that your computer has the application you need to show your documents, such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Project, or Word.
  • For a smoother presentation, be sure your file, videotape, or DVD is ready to show.  Test it before you start or join the video call.

Aug27soundgood_2  How to sound great:

  • Speak in your normal voice without shouting.
  • Ask the people at the other site if they can hear you.
  • Have them introduce themselves so you can be sure you can hear them.
  • Mute the microphone before moving it during a meeting.
  • Keep your system on mute if you are not speaking. Just remember to take your system off of mute before you talk.
  • Since the audio has a very slight delay, you may want to pause briefly for others to answer you or to make comments.
  • As with any meeting, try to limit side conversations.
  • Place the microphone on the table in front of the people in the meeting. If your room is very large, consider adding another microphone.
  • If your video conferencing room is configured to use stereo sound, the microphones are positioned and configured during system setup. It is important that you do not move them, as this may detract from the stereo audio experience.
  • Do not place papers or other objects on or in the way of the microphone, and don’t rustle papers, click your pen, or tap on the microphone or table.

And finally:  Appreciate the fact that you’ve just saved yourself, your company, and your colleagues or clients a stress filled travel day.  And savor the experience; it will be the first of many to come.  If you have any questions on how to improve or prepare your video conference meetings – let’s hear them.  Or, if you have another suggestion that has worked for you, please share it with us!

Brian_2 Brian Trampler is the Sr. Product Manager of Strategic Video Solutions & the "Video Conferencing" blogger. Throughout his 10 years in the conferencing industry, he has successfully launched numerous web, streaming, and video services.  Prior to making the jump to conferencing, Brian was involved in gymnastics both as a competitor and coach.  If you’re lucky, you might also find Brian performing musical theatre throughout the Denver metro area.

    How do I Start a Web Conference? Let me count the ways!
    August 12, 2008 @ 06:47 AM | By Guest Blogger

    All leading web conferencing service providers strive for ‘ease of use’.  This often begins with, what else, actually starting the web conference!  InterCall Web Meeting, InterCall’s proprietary unified meetings tool, is no exception. Opportunities to start a web conference present themselves at every corner (of your computer desktop that is).

    Since this is my first blog entry, I felt it would be appropriate to focus on the theme of beginnings. But more specifically, the options available for “beginning” a web conference – Oh…ok, starting a web conference.  But first, I’ll take a step back to mention the short list of requirements needed to begin and lead a web conference: a computer, internet connection (dial-up will do, but high-speed is better) and a telephone (landline or cellular).  You may also want to throw in a web camera.  Displaying your smiling mug is sure to assist in reducing your audience’s ever present urge to peek into inboxes or open other windows.  Now that you have your basic tools, it’s time to begin…

    Most web conferencing services offer a variety of methods for starting your virtual meeting, whether ‘on-the-fly’ or scheduled in advance.  InterCall Web Meeting for example offers five. This typically boils down to one action - a click of your mouse!  Your next question may be, ‘but where do I point my mouse?’, and here is where the fun begins.

    Sept9outlookintegration 1. E-Mail Invitation
    My favorite method for starting a web conference is through the e-mail invitation.  Most products integrate with calendaring systems such as Outlook.   When Invitations are created, links are automatically inserted into the email invitation and the calendar entry.  As the ‘organizer’ of the meeting, clicking the link from either location will get you to the meeting on time.  You are always just a link’s click away from meeting nirvana!

    2. Office Programs
    WebEx and Microsoft Live Meeting (both offered by InterCall) have the ability to start a web conference instantly from within applications such as Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word.  When you’re on a conference call reviewing a report you’ve emailed to several people, frustration with “Mr. Readahead” may set in.  An option to “stop the madness” does exist.  Depending on your chosen service, the option to launch a web conference directly from the document may exist so that you can share it at your pace

    Sept9desktopicon 3. Desktop Icon
    Most web conferencing services enable the presenter/host to start a meeting from the desktop icon with as little as one click, often not more than two.  What is a desktop icon?  It is that little shortcut image on your desktop that usually displays a little fancy logo created by the company supplying the service.  WebEx’s Meeting Center (also offered by InterCall), offers the “One Click” meeting, for immediate start of a virtual meeting.

    4. Browser
    A virtual meeting may also be started by opening a new browser window and entering your web conferencing service URL (i.e. https://companyname.webex.com or https://companyname.on.intercall.com).  Automatic login does not apply here and therefore is not as turn-key, but this will come in handy when working remotely (from a computer other than your own).

    Sept9startmenu 5. Start Menu
    If your service of choice required a download, chances are it shows up as a program on your desktop.  If that is the case, you can locate and open the program directly from the Start Menu.

    Even if a web conference is only needed occasionally, starting your web meeting is just like riding a bike - no one forgets how to use a desktop shortcut icon, do they?  With client based services like InterCall Web Meeting, the service remembers your login credentials so there is no need to memorize these each time.  As long as you have access to your desktop, you can fire up your web conferencing engine! 

    Gentlemen (and Ladies)… Start your Web Conference!

    Kristen Kristen Kosnak is an Associate Product Manager and one of our “Web Conferencing” bloggers.  Kristen has been with InterCall for five years in a variety of facets within sales and product management. She currently manages InterCall Web Meeting, InterCall’s proprietary web conferencing platform. When not collaborating on a web conference, Kristen enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter or soaring down a trail on her mountain bike.

    Getting To Kyoto…One Neighborhood at a Time
    August 5, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By InterCall Blog

    This is a remarkable story about one neighborhood of 30 homes which came together and pledged to uphold the conditions of the Kyoto Protocol.  Their goal: to reduce their carbon footprint by 25% within one year. 

    Did they succeed? 

    Within just 4 months, the 30 self proclaimed Carbon Cutters reduced their carbon footprint by 20%.  They are now coming up to the end of their first year and the unofficial results show they dropped their collective carbon footprint by 30%. 

    Where did they start? 

    First, they collected data from one year’s worth of utility bills to understand their baseline carbon footprint.  Second, each household received an eco audit.  The audit included electricity and natural gas, and fuel consumption – both automobile and air travel.  Graphical data showed the family how they compared to the average household of similar size in each of these categories.  The families were then able to track their carbon reductions each month through a software tracking program provided by the non profit organization the Green Heart Institute.

    How did they do it? 

    The accumulation of several small changes added up to big results.  Insulating their homes, swapping out incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents, conserving energy, commuting via bus, bicycle, or telecommuting, and reducing the amount of air travel all contributed toward their 30% reduction.  Several home also invested in solar panels which significantly lowered their carbon footprint.  All of their solutions are within reach of the average family.

    What was their secret? 

    These Carbon Cutters cited their number one success strategy as the accountability they all felt towards each other.  Community spirit is at large.  Neighbors previously anonymous to each other, met at informal house parties to collectively brainstorm, to share success stories, to educate themselves on global warming, and to reinforce the importance of their efforts.  Some meetings centered on watching educational movies such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Who Stole the Electric Car”.  Some meetings centered on lectures from local sustainability experts eager to speak to a proactive audience.

    I am encouraged by the ‘can do’ spirit of these neighbors.  They have put into practice simple lifestyle changes which prove that can, in fact, work together and fulfill their part of a global initiative.  Many cities throughout the U.S. have taken on the Kyoto Protocol challenge themselves.  These cities, I believe, are slow to engage their corporate and residential citizens.  The ‘Carbon Cutters’ group is a refreshing reminder that we all have immediate contributions to offer to our neighbors, our cities, our country and to our global compatriots.

    Laura_2 Laura has been an Account Manager with InterCall for 4 years. She was first introduced to the ‘green’ concepts of re-use, recycle, and repair from her parents who grew up towards the end of the depression. These concepts were further re-enforced to her during her years living abroad in France and in the Netherlands. At present, Laura volunteer for ‘Boulder County Going Local’, the Sierra Club, and attends her town’s Resource Conservation Advisory Board.

    Do I need registration for my virtual conference?
    August 5, 2008 @ 06:00 AM | By Guest Blogger

    In my last post I suggested that you give yourself some time to consider the technology behind your event.  Part of that technology can be a registration system.

    Aug5registrationkyle_2When you’re hosting a large event, you will likely need to gather a list to confirm the expected attendance or create follow-up activities.  One of the best ways to do this is to ask your audience to register before the event if they plan to attend.  After a person registers they receive the information for the event. 

    First, let’s define registration services.  When you are hosting a virtual event, you may want to have participants register so that you have an idea of expected attendance.  It also allows you to gather more detailed information about your participants without making each person give a lot of information to an operator as they enter the meeting.   You can perform pre-registration by phone or online, but most people opt for the web form…it’s a simple click from your email invitation to register.

    Now, why should you require registration for a virtual event? 

    1. To simplify the event process:  A pre-registration process can reduce administration time by automating and branding event communications.
    2. To increase registration and attendance:  By integrating meeting information with the participants’ outlook calendar integration and having multiple flexible reminders you can increase your registration to attendance ratio.
    3. To gather mission critical data:   Gathering demographics and contact information before the event allows everyone to connect quickly at the time of the meeting, because they don’t have to stop and give required information to an operator.  Pre-registration also expands your database, because you will gather information for people who intend to join your event, even if they do not actually show up.  You will also have a way to score leads and may be able to integrate information into your CRM

    Some best practices for using Event Registration I’ve found over the years include:

    • Plan ahead for what your follow-up activities will be, so that you can gather the proper information during registration.
    • Check your registration after your event invitations are sent.  Most responses to email invitations occur within one day.  If your registration is lower than expected, consider resending your invitation with plenty of time left before your event.
    • If you are going to be using a virtual event for lead generation, don’t be afraid to ask a few qualifying questions in the registration.  But also don’t go overboard...Think about the time demands on your audience.  If your form takes too long to fill out, you may lose some responses as people get distracted at the office.
    • Use the information in your registration report to prepare for the event.  If you have asked demographic or qualifying questions, you can tailor your presentation, if necessary, based on they type of people who are registering for your event.

    There you go…I hope this “inside view” helps your next event be a resounding success!  And a little easier to manage while you’re at it!  In the next InterCall Blog post, we'll hear from a few different people and discuss the role of the Event Consutant.

    Kimwinn Kim has been in the conferencing industry for the past 9 years. She is a Product Manager at InterCall for Mshow Web Conferencing, Events and Registration. She is passionate about the ability to support dynamic, powerful events using audio, video and/or web conferencing. In her spare time, Kim likes to spend time with her 2 ½ year old son, 4 ½ year old daughter and husband. You can often find the Winn family riding bikes together, spending a day at the beach, or going to the rodeo together.

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