Chances are you’ve already started using video group chat conferencing either for personal or professional use, taking advantage of its convenience in connecting people from around the world in real time and allowing face to face encounters. But you may not be using it enough, or maximizing your online encounters with co-workers, employees, and superiors alike. Below we’ve compiled a short list of some inventive ways to use the hardware and software involved in video conferencing to expand your horizons both inside and outside of the office setting.
Master the Screen Share
Sharing your screen with other people in your group video chat is an excellent way to immediately share information about the project currently in progress, whether it’s an article or a PowerPoint presentation. But while it’s an invaluable tool, it can be easy to flub an otherwise excellent execution of your idea. When preparing to share your screen with others, it is super important to not have a cluttered, unprofessional desktop.
Opt for a plain or simple wallpaper that’s professional and tasteful, and limit your desktop icons to a select few. The rest can be temporarily deleted, moved into a folder, or simply hidden until after you’re finished with the call. Additionally, try to be sure to have your program ready and pulled up by the time you start sharing screens. Fumbling around trying to find the right window while everyone watches can be an uncomfortable or unprofessional situation, so be prepared.
If you’ve only ever made one on one or small group video chats, then you’re not taking advantage of the video conference experience. A good video chat and broadcasting software like BlueJeans can allow hundreds of people, all using different devices, to connect into one group call. This can be extremely beneficial for any occasion where you need to connect to people in various locations and allow entire teams to, if needed, join a conversation on other sides of the globe. Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, and push the boundaries on how big your group call can be.
When making big calls, however, whenever possible try to utilize the mute option to keep the focus on the main speaker. As most software is made to focus the call on whoever’s feed is making the most and loudest noise, in large groups when possible have the host or main speaker mute other feeds until it’s time for discussion. If the host doesn’t do this, it’s still a good idea to mute your feed until it’s time for you to talk, especially if you’re at home and could accidentally be interrupted by off-screen noises.
Get Your Hands a Little Dirty
For jobs that require working quite literally in the field, video conferencing is an excellent diagnostic tool. An employee for an agriculture company can take a live video of a plant in a farmer’s field and speak to a specialist or technician to diagnose a nutritional need or disease immediately, without necessarily having to bring the plant in for testing. Having a mobile device like a tablet or smartphone can also allow you to give a 360 view of any object in a troubleshooting situation, whether it’s a tomato plant with a bad case of aphids or a desktop with some damaged internal parts. Here, a handheld or movable camera can allow you to show everyone in the call exactly what you’re looking at and can work wonders when describing details or problems in something that can’t easily be moved.
Make your Presentation Count
Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to screen sharing static images or pre-recorded videos to illustrate a presentation, either. Visual props or aids can add a surprising amount of depth to a demonstration, whether it’s metaphorical like building a small structure of blocks, or something more literal and requiring visuals like a cooking demo or small craft. In any of these cases, having a live visual demo can bring your presentation to a whole new level.
Just be sure that the camera you use is steadily mounted to prevent any shaking that could cause at best a blurry or hard to follow demonstration or at worst motion sickness in some of your audience. In this instance, having a separate webcam as opposed to one built into your device can prove very helpful, as you can usually anchor the webcam at a good angle to capture your demonstration. Don’t forget to practice the demonstration several times first, and see if changing the camera location works for your purposes or not. Otherwise just stepping back from an anchored camera, or switching from front to back camera on your smartphone or tablet, should work just right.
While these are all some starting points to take your video conferencing skills from good to great, don’t be afraid to go a little further. Whether you’re calling from home with one person or from a broadcasting room at the office with two thousand, try to take full advantage of the face or face or screen to screen experience.