Video Conferencing Guide
- By default, mute your microphone when you are not
- Headphones almost always fix feedback issues. If you hear
feedback of any sort (even if it appears to be occuring at a
different location than where you are) then you should put
on headphones. Sennheiser makes a great pair of cheap
over-the-ear headphones for $20. Good noise-canceling
headphones are a gift from heaven.
- Every room needs only one set of speakers and one
microphone. Under normal circumstances, there is no need to
have two laptops in the same room connected to the same
- Pay close attention to the messages in the chat room.
It is an incredibly helpful place to communicate
when there are audio problems and sometimes useful for the host
even when there aren't audio problems. It is also a great
way to moderate communication when several people would
like to talk at once.
- In each room, arrange the camera (e.g. on the laptop) far
enough from the speakers to ensure that the video catches
the faces of the audience in the room as much as is
possible. Sometimes this means you need to reconfigure the
chairs and tables properly. I've spent entire
videoconferences talking to an unmatched pair of shoulders
with a blank chalkboard in between them. (One problem
I've encountered here is with Facetime and iPad docks.
Facetime doesn't seem to be compatible with some
docks, so it refuses to properly orient the video
as long as the iPad is docked.)
- Obviously, the conference is limited by the speed of
your internet connection, so be prepared to turn off video
if one or more of the participants is on a limited
- Hosts: plan to arrive ahead of time to help your
users test their audio connection. Participants:
arrive early if you think you might have problems.
- Note that laptop microphones often pick up typing, so if
you're using your laptop microphone be prepared to be unable
to get any work done during the meeting when your microphone
is on. Physically moving your laptop when your microphone is
on can also cause quite a bit of noise.
- Audio problems can often be diagnosed by the host when
they can see who's microphone is transmitting a signal to
the entire group. Ventrilo and Teamspeak are very good at
allowing the host and users to see and manage audio signals
(but also may require more technical expertise on the part
of the hosts and the users). Zoom and Adobe Connect are sort
of middle of the road. Skype, and Facetime are horrible for
this, as their interfaces are designed to be very simple, at
the expense of giving hosts good methods for diagnosing
audio issues (so far as I know).
- Do be careful about playing audio or video on your computer
during a videoconference. Enough said.
- Feedback is caused by a microphone picking up the audio
signal from a speaker and then sending it back to the
same speaker. Chat and video software can reduce
feedback, but the software correction can only help so
much, especially if the microphone is pointed at the
Back to Andrew W. Steiner at
the University of Tennessee.