April 2020 will be remembered for many things, but one standout is how video conferencing went into orbit. Now everyone with some bandwidth is doing it. For most of us though it’s unfamiliar territory, so when ther’s three or more people online it starts getting a bit tricky – unless you know what you’re doing.
A big problem currently is poor preparation, resulting in late, sloppy starts and annoyed participants. So here’s my take on it: it doesn’t matter if it’s a business meeting or a social meeting, it’s much better to be well organised, technologically ready and not to keep folk waiting.
On 17 April I was asked by SA’s Best Speakers to host a 20 minute session on video conferencing. I decided to focus on the hour before you go live. We had over 65 participants. In this article I have summarised the main points that I raised.
My suggestion? I don’t mind which VC platform you’re using, but I urge you to follow this list exactly as it appears below leaving nothing out. You’ll be glad you did.
Before going live remotely: – to be done in this order
- Check your email in case there is something important you need to respond to immediately. If so then deal with it.
- Close all applications
- Shut down and restart your computer. If any applications try to start up automatically close them down. You want to maximise your computer’s resources and eliminate distraction.
- Check your wi-fi connection. Then do a bandwidth speed test. This will allow you to identify bandwidth problems in enough time to sort them out. If all is fine then you have peace of mind.
- Open your video conference / webinar programme. If there are updates to be installed they should start now (usually they take just a few minutes).
- Do an audio test (mic and speakers).
- Do your video test and ensure your camera is lined up at eye level.
- Set up your timer.
- Make arrangements for any big data users on your network to be offline while you’re busy with your online meeting.
- Let people in your office space / home know the times you’re doing a live session so that background noise, interruptions and walk-bys (including pets) can be avoided. You need to be pro-active by managing, in advance, the distractions that are within your control.
- Go to the loo.
- Have a look in the mirror – are your clothes comfortable and do they look good. You need to feel comfortable and relaxed
- Start getting yourself in an upbeat worry-free frame of mind to deliver your session.
- Bring a glass of warm (not cold!) water on standby well to the side of your computr but within your vision so that you don’t accidentally knock it over whilst gesturing.
- If you’re using a natural background – survey it critically and fix it.
- Ensure that your phone is charged and your backchannel is ready.
- Line yourself up properly in the middle of your screen. If you’re seated you should be a minimum of a full arms length from the camera. You don’t want your head chopped off at the top or if standing your legs around the knees below. If in a studio, line yourself up according to whether there is a screen or not.
- If you planned to record, set an alarm to hit the record button and then select cloud or computer (or you will forget)!
- Start your timer. And yes, it’s better to start on time.
- Smile – it’s best to be friendly and it makes you feel better too!
If you’re expecting more than 25 participants it’s better to have an assistant on hand to deal with last minute logistics, phone calls and settings. The funny thing is, when things go really well, nobody seems to notice. When things go wrong just about everyone has something to say about it. I’d rather my audience focuses on the purpose of the meeting, wouldn’t you?