Client Tech Requirements
Video conferencing is a big part of our workflow for a few reasons:
It is more engaging than a phone call. We like to see who we're talking to and build relationships while we are working on important issues. Phones are great for quick updates or check-ins, but when substantive issues are on the table we need a richer form of communication than a phone conference.
We can share information on-screen. Data is important as is the ability to communicate complex concepts using visuals. We cannot do that in a phone call.
Video is best for groups. Sometimes it is the person who isn't saying anything that should be speaking the loudest. Video allows us to involve everyone in the discussion. If we cannot see your face we are in danger of missing your contribution.
Because video is such a big part of our workflow it is important that we get it right. The tech requirements are not overly burdensome, but they are absolutely essential.
You need a webcam.
You need a microphone and speakers, preferably in a headset.
If you have a laptop and a pair of earbud headphones with a microphone in them you are all set.
If you have a webcam above (or integrated into) your desktop monitor AND a headset you are all set.
If you need to buy a webcam on a budget the Logitech C270 is a good option for around $25. For a little more money and better picture quality consider the Logitech C920S HD for around $75.
If you need a headset we recommend the Logitech USB Headset H390 for around $25.
As far as software goes we use Zoom and love it. If we are hosting the meeting it will be in Zoom. We have already spent the dollars for all the bells and whistles and it won't cost you a thing. Just download the software ahead of our scheduled call.
After thousands of video calls we have learned a thing or two about what NOT to do. Please take a quick look down this list to insure that everyone on the call has a great experience.
"I don't need a headset. My laptop has a built-in mic and speakers"
We call this person the happy typist. You may not realize it but when you get bored during the call and start posting social media updates it sounds like someone is tap dancing on our eardrums. The internal mic in your laptop is great at picking up keystrokes and it makes hearing anything or anyone else on the call nearly impossible. Your laptop still needs a headset or the aforementioned earbuds.
"I love virtual meetings because I can work from anywhere"
Yes, that is sort of true. However, when you setup camp at Starbucks for an afternoon of video calls all we hear is the constant drone of background music punctuated by a steaming milk frother every 30 seconds. The real beauty of video calls is that you can close the door to your office, save the travel time, and replicate much of the face-to-face interaction. Consider your environment before dialing in and make sure that everyone else won't be distracted by the auditory landscape.
"Headsets mess up my hair so I'm just going to use the webcam mic and some speakers"
This can work, but it is very hit or miss. It often results in a relentless echo for everyone else on the call. Your webcam mic is also fairly indiscriminate about what it picks up. The water cooler talk outside your doorway is likely to come through much louder in our earbuds than it does in your ears. If you're concerned about bad hair days invest in a behind-the-head style of headset like the Logitech 981-000018.
"Zoom has a mobile app. I'll just use that while I dial in from the road"
Despite being illegal in some states, this defeats the purpose of doing video calls in the first place. We want you engaged and we want to have the ability to share info on-screen with you. Doing that while you are behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is not a good idea.
Thanks for helping us create a productive and engaging experience using video conferencing. If you have any questions or need assistance in any way please give us a call. Carrie is our local expert and troubleshooter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has created a great Zoom and best practices instructional you can download here.