GUIDE to a GOOD VIDEO CONFERENCE
Below are some suggestions for a successful video-conference.
- Show-up on time
Video-conferencing works very much like network television. There is a set start time and a set end time. You don't get anymore! If you run over, tough! You will get cut off in mid-sentence. If you start late, it means you will have less time to cover your topic. Please allow extra time if your video-conference has special setup requirements like those listed in What Else We Need to Know. Which leads to.....
- Plan your agenda and stick to it
Because of its strict time structure, video-conferencing benefits from having a fairly structured agenda and time allotments per agenda items. If this can't be done, I would recommend covering your high priority items early in the meeting.
- Assume all microphones are live and all cameras are on you!
Try not to learn this the hard way as many people have. Side comments on a remote participanat's weight gain will probably get broadcast to every site on the conference, including to the person you are talking about. Also, assume that silent but inappropriate facial expressions or gestures will be seen by everyone in the conference. My rule of thumb is "Don't say or do anything during a video-conference that your mother wouldn't approve of!"
- Keep all side comments and conversation to a minimum
Most of our microphones are very sensitive and will pick up whispers and side comments. This comments can be very distractive to the rest of the conference. Also, please try not to rattle or move papers around the microphones. This helps keep background noise to a minimum.
- When speaking, please talk into the microphone
Most sound level problems during video conferencing are because participants are not close enough to the microphone when they speak. Please encourage your participants to speak into the microphones at their sites. At GA, the microphones are mounted in the table. (You've always wondered what those 3 little black dots were on top of the table, didn't you?) They are very sensitive and provide adequate coverage for the room....unless you are away from the table or leaning back in your chair.
- Take roll at the beginning of the conference
Do a roll call of each participating site, asking each to identifiy who is going to be participating from that site. This not only identifies all participants, but serves as a microphone and video check on each site and will help the technicians identify any problems. Please be patient. Audio and video switching to each site is not instantaneous.
- Modify Your Powerpoint Presentations
If you are displaying a powerpoint presentation during the video-conference, please plan ahead. Video technology does not have the same resolution as a computer screen. What works on a computer will probably not work during a video-conference and thus will be unreadable to your audience. Here as some starting points:
- Leave a video "safe-zone" on your powerpoint slide. Video technology will cut-off or truncate the top/bottom and left/right areas of your powerpoint. Imagine a 1 inch of space or border around your slide. Make sure all crucial text or graphics are inside that zone. Text or information "in-the-red" will probably be cutoff and unreadable by your audience.
- Increase the size of your text. Text less than 24 pt. does not resolve easily through video and will probably be unreadable by your audience
- Use sans-serif fonts like ARIAL rather than serif fonts like TIMES. Serifs are those little "feet" or extensions on then end of the letters. Unless the font size is very large, they can make text unreadable when broadcast over video.
- Tone down your colors. Very bright or vivid colors don't work well through video. Particularly when they are sitting right next to each other! Keep things simple and color choices few.
- Keep your presentation simple. Turn off all animation, sound affects and slide transitions. They just don't work well when broadcast over video.