Videoconferencing Tips for Success

Northwestern faculty and staff may now use Lync 2013 (Lync 2014 for Mac is not yet available) for desktop videoconferencing. Visit the NUIT Lync 2013 Online User Guide for more information, including training videos, on how to take advantage of this service.
NUIT offers best practices for conducting a successful videoconference on topics including pre-meeting preparations, communicating effectively, and videoconferencing etiquette.

Meeting Preparation

  • Arrive well before your videoconference starts to test the videoconferencing system and the interface to your laptop.
  • Minimize distracting glare and uneven lighting by pulling the shades on windows and doors and covering glass-framed wall hangings.  You should minimize combining outside light with indoor fluorescent lighting to prevent problems with the videoconference camera and the quality of your image.
  • Make sure the room has adequate lighting, typically what would be used for standard office work. If it's too dark, the other sites won't be able to see you clearly.
  • Try to set up a back channel for communication to the other site(s) such as with Instant Message client or email.  This allows for communication without interrupting the discussion.
  • Wear neutral, muted, or pastel solid colors. Avoid plaids, stripes, polka dots, very bright colors, and the colors white or red—they can cause distracting effects on screen.

Communicate Effectively

  • Do an audio check before the virtual meeting begins to ensure that everyone can hear you.
  • Speak in a normal voice, you shouldn't have to shout.
  • Talk directly into the microphone. Do not turn your head from side to side while talking or your voice will fade in and out at the remote site.
  • When you start talking, JUST KEEP TALKING! Try not to ask "can you hear me?" or anything like that. Assume that everything is working fine. You will be interrupted if something is wrong.
  • When possible, keep your microphone muted when you won't be speaking for several minutes or more. Un-muted microphones can be the single most important problem communicating during a videoconference meeting.
  • Be natural, but limit excess movement to avoid looking jerky on screen. If you walk around while speaking, remain in a small area and walk slowly.

Videoconferencing Etiquette

  • When videoconferencing with many sites, start your comment by saying your name and location (for example, "This is Pat at Northwestern.") Doing so helps the video equipment switch to your site and also helps other sites identify who is speaking before the video monitor catches up.
  • When your microphone is on, be careful with side conversations and do not rustle papers or make tapping sounds near the microphone. Any sounds you make will be heard by the other sites and can be distractive.
  • Direct your questions to a specific site, and preferably a specific individual. Expect a few extra seconds of delay in getting an answer because of the technology and distance involved (at minimum, un-muting the microphone).
  • Do not cause echo. If you are causing echo, it will disrupt the videoconference.  If necessary, keep your microphone muted until you have to speak, and then quickly mute it when you are finished.
  • Look directly at the camera as often as possible. This will give the remote site the impression that you are looking directly at them.

Support Contacts

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