Increasingly, in today’s modern working environment, there are opportunities to work remotely from home. Whether you are an entrepreneur, or work for a flexible employer, there are often times where it is beneficial to do your work from home. In my own experience, I have had instances where a repair person has needed to perform repairs at my home which I needed to be available for. I have also had important deliveries which I have needed to be home to sign for. And there was even a time where there was a massive storm at home causing flooding where I couldn’t actually leave the house! All of these circumstances have made working from home useful and kept me productive. Some would say you can actually be more productive when you work from home as there are less distractions (depends on individual circumstances of course!).
I have clients across Australia, and while it can be nice to travel interstate and meet face to face, it is not always cost effective and can be time consuming (booking flights and accommodation, packing, travelling to and from the airport, checking in and out of your hotel, etc). This is where remote video conferencing from home makes great sense. We use Google’s G Suite (affiliate referral link) at Cloudmesh which includes a tool called Hangouts Meet. There are of course a variety of systems and tools out there which facilitate video conferencing, but we have found G Suite provides the best set of integrated tools which works perfectly for our business needs.
Recently, I had a video call meeting with an interstate client and there are a few tips which made the experience smoother, which can hopefully help you next time you need to make a video call for work.
Test Your Video And Audio Beforehand
If possible, before your meeting, particularly if you are new to video conferencing or haven’t run a video meeting for a while, run some tests of your video and audio. This will make you feel more confident that things will actually work during your meeting. It will also give you the opportunity to fix any issues with your hardware or configuration prior to your meeting.
Set up a test meeting with a work colleague, or even with yourself if you have two accounts. Create the meeting in your calendar, click on the link generated, and test your webcam and microphone.
Usually there is no configuration or setup needed to get up and running, but may need to provide permission to your web browser to use your webcam and microphone in advance. Have your work colleague check that they can see you over the webcam and that they can hear you clearly over the microphone (and that you can hear and see them). If you notice any issues with choppy video frame rate, or unclear audio, make sure you get these problems fixed before your meeting. It might be simply just a matter of moving your microphone closer to you (or adjusting it closer to your mouth if you are using a headset). It could also be a lack of available bandwidth to stream video, so check to make sure you aren’t running anything else that may be using up your bandwidth.
Check Your Office
Before you start your video call, take a look around your home office/room. Remove/rearrange anything in view of your webcam that may cause a distraction to the other people on your call. You want the others on the call to focus on you and what you’re saying, and not focusing on the Netflix series playing on your TV screen in the background. If you are using a laptop, place your laptop on a flat surface before your call. You don’t want any shaking of the webcam during the call by placing your laptop on your lap.
Phone Dial In Codes Can Be Useful
When you create a new Hangouts Meet meeting, not only is a unique link generated for the meeting that any participants can use, but phone dial in codes are also generated automatically with a unique PIN code which participants can dial in to.
When using the Hangouts Meet link, both video and audio are both streamed for the meeting. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, there can be glitches with technology and hardware. I have had a situation where one of the participants on the video call was experiencing issues with their microphone, and as a result, I could not hear any of their audio (they could hear me fine).
Instead of wasting valuable minutes of our scheduled meeting troubleshooting technology, they simply dialled in to the phone number and used the PIN code and audio was working within seconds. No other configuration or setup needed. So phone dial in options can be a useful backup for audio in case of any technical issues that may arise during a meeting.
Choose The Right Screen/Window To Present
As with most modern video conferencing tools, you can choose to share individual windows or entire screens to other participants in the meeting. If you are presenting slides or other content, first of all make sure you are selecting the appropriate window or screen to share.
This will prevent the likelihood of issues where the others on the call can see your desktop, or read your email, or see confidential information not meant for them, or see any other distracting non-meeting related information. It is quite easy to choose what to share over Hangouts Meet – simply select Present Now, and then choose to share either your entire screen or a specific window. There are in depth instructions here.
Treat It As Though They Are In The Same Room
Above all, just because the other participants aren’t physically in the same room as you, it doesn’t mean that the meeting experience can’t be just as valuable. There is value in seeing each other over a webcam, as it is well known that most communication is nonverbal (through body language, etc). This can often be portrayed over a video call, which is lost when using other methods of digital communication, like an email or a phone call.
If you feel uncomfortable or unsure from interacting over a video call, just imagine the others are in the same room as you. You can communicate your ideas and thoughts just as easily as if they were physically there with you. You can share your screen and show the other participants anything on your computer as though they were there. The added benefit is that video calls can be recorded for later viewing. If a participant was unable to attend the meeting, or if action items need to be reviewed later, meetings can always be replayed later in full.
If you would like to use a modern, intelligent productivity suite for your business which makes collaboration a breeze, consider checking out G Suite. There are a wide range of tools to transform your way of working and making you more productive, at any time, on any device. If you use our referral link provided, contact us now for a promotion code to earn 20% off your first year of using G Suite!