Monthly PC Tips

Video Conference Professionally

April 2012 – by Per Christensson

Video conferencing was once reserved for only elite business and educational institutions. Now, it seems nearly every laptop, tablet, and smartphone includes a built-in camera and video conferencing software. This makes video conferencing or "video chats" just as accessible for everyday consumers as it is for large organizations. Whether you use Skype, Windows Live Messenger, iChat, or FaceTime, the following tips can help improve the quality of your video conferences.

  1. Lighting - Ambient lighting is easily the more important and most overlooked aspect of a good video conference. Before you begin a video chat or video call, make sure you have bright lighting around you. Webcams do not capture as much light as professional video cameras, so a dark room will appear even darker over a video conference. Additionally, make sure the brightest light is in front of you so the person on the other end can see your face. If the brightest lighting is behind you, the camera may adjust to the bright lights and your face will appear even darker.
  2. Headroom - Have you ever noticed how when you watch the news or interviews on TV, there is only about two to three inches above the person's head and the top of the screen? Then why do so many people leave the top half the screen empty when video conferencing? I don't know. The more of the screen you can fill with your face and upper body, the more natural you will appear to the person on the other end. Therefore, make sure that there is only a little bit of space between the top of your head and the top of the screen.
  3. Audio - Don't get so caught up with the video quality that you forget about the audio. Since most video conferences are done via speakerphone, ambient noise gets picked up much easier than a typical phone call. Therefore, if possible, choose a quiet room for video conference. Even closing the windows may be helpful. If you can't prevent ambient noise, it might be worth using a headset so that the other person can hear you more clearly.

Video conferencing is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family who live far away. If you can't see them in person, a video chat over the Internet is the next best thing. Just remember to follow the tips above and it will make the experience better for everyone.

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