We have found that it is best for Web conference users to use the following advice;
* WEB CAMERA – LOOK GOOD
Don’t use the camera that is built into your laptop, use a separate web camera. The camera built into laptops is usually at a set position relative to the screen and when the screen is adjusted unflattering imagery generally results. An independent camera allows you to set the view and angle that you wish to transmit – you would be surprised how many laptop callers send a magnified view looking up their nostrils. (A good Logitech HD USB Webcam will cost between AU$60 and AU$150 depending on your requirements).
* AUDIO:REMOVE THE ECHO – SOUND GOOD
Separate your incoming and outgoing audio streams – you will be talking to a room and we need to reduce echo. The easiest method for this is to use a noise cancelling microphone.
You can use a headset to managing the incoming & outgoing audio streams, many people prefer not to use a headset as it restricts their movement, and messes up hairstyles. A USB headset is recommended as these types have less interference from humming power supplies than the old 3.5mm jack versions. (A Logitech USB headset will set you back somewhere from AU$60 to AU$200; see if you can test the headset for comfort before purchasing)
For many of our conferencing computers we have now moved across to the Logitech BCC950 ConferenceCam as it solves the camera and microphone issues in a single package.
* AVOID WIRELESS
Video and wireless are not wonderful partners, and will introduce another set of issues into your call stability. If you have the choice plug into you LAN for the connection, especially if you have access to a fast corporate/educational network.
* MAKE A TEST CALL
Always make a test call to make sure that everything is working. For example if you are calling via Skype, use the Skype audio test service before the call to ensure that your audio is clear and clean. The audio carries 80% of your message; bad video can be worked with, bad audio is a show stopper. Make sure that you software is up to date (old versions tend to cause problems unless specifically requested).
* YOUR ENVIRONMENT
The environment from which you place you call can make a difference – do you want to look professional, casual or unprepared?
- use a blank wall or neutral background for your Web conference session. A complicated background detracts from your presentation.
- check your lighting conditions, do not use strong back lighting (eg. sitting in front of a window so the window is you background), do not use strong direct lighting (eg. facing into the sun). Softer reflected light coming from the front and side gives the best results.
- soft furnishings reduce sharp echos. Sitting near curtains will give you a ‘warmer’ voice than sitting near a glass or metal wall.
- eliminate background noises and distractions. A good microphone will pick up these noises, and a bad microphone shouldn’t be used for the call.
* WHITEBOARDS/DRAWING (Virtual Classroom)
If you are using Virtual Classroom or Virtual Meeting web conferencing that gives the option of a white board or the ability to draw on the screen, do not use a mouse for this functionality. The best tool for the virtual white board or drawing on the screen is to use a pen and graphics tablet (eg. a WACOM tablet).