Video Conferencing Guide
- By default, mute your microphone when you are not
- Headphones improve audio feedback and echoing issues
significantly (of course if you have muted your
microphone when you are not speaking you don't have to
worry about this). Sennheiser makes a great pair of
cheap over-the-ear headphones for $20. Good
noise-canceling headphones also help.
- If you have more than one laptop or desktop computer
connected to the same videoconference in the same
room, then additional care needs to be taken with the
audio. To be safe, ensure that only one computer has
unmuted their microphone and only one computer has
unmuted their speaker. If you have one microphone and
several speakers, then you may get feedback and
echoing. Sometimes you can avoid this by being careful
about the orientation of the speakers and the
microphones and software corrections, but this often
requires higher quality microphones than those
typically included with computers.
- 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 are not 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. Without this, you lose
the nonverbal communication. (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.)
- The conference is limited by the speed of
your internet connection, so be prepared to turn your video
if one or more of the participants is on a limited
connection (even if your connection is strong).
- 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
- In Teams in particular, be careful about sharing
your video of the participants, as this will cause
the network to lag
Back to Andrew W. Steiner at
the University of Tennessee.