Videoconference Basics

TTVN Tips for Successful Videoconferences

  1. Connect 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time

    Make sure your videoconference system is on and ready to connect 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Virtually all TTVN videoconferences connect 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. Take advantage of the pre-videoconference connection time to check audio and video with the other sites in the videoconference.

  2. Understand the basic operation of your videoconference system

    Make sure you understand the basic operation of your videoconference system, i.e. how to mute/unmute the microphones and how to move the camera(s). Be sure to check with the other sites to make sure that they can see your computer presentation (if applicable). Ask your local videoconference site coordinator for assistance if necessary.

  3. Conduct a verbal roll call of all sites

    If you are the meeting leader or faculty member, it is a good idea to conduct a verbal roll call of all sites at the videoconference start time to assure all sites can see/be seen and hear/be heard.

  4. Report audio or video problems with a site immediately

    If you suspect a site is not connected or there are audio or video problems with a site, call TTVN Operations at (979) 862-2241 as soon as you suspect a problem. Do not wait until after the videoconference ends to report the problem. TTVN staff can usually alleviate or work around audio and video problems during a videoconference.
  5. Mute your microphones when you are not speaking

    Muted microphones reduce extraneous noise in the videoconference audio and keep the system video from switching inadvertently to a non-talking site. If your microphones must remain unmuted, remember that they can pick up side conversations.
  6. Always assume that the microphones and cameras are ON in any videoconference room

    Even if the video screens are dark, the system and the microphones may be on and transmitting audio and video to other sites.
  7. Avoid moving the microphones around the tabletop

    Avoid dragging or pushing the microphones around on the tabletop, as this makes a lot of objectionable noise at the other sites. Do not place papers or other items on top of tabletop microphones.
  8. When you respond to a roll call or question, state your name and location first, and then respond with a full sentence

    A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ may not give the system enough time to sense your audio and switch to your video. It also identifies who you are for the other participants.
  9. Make sure you are in camera view when talking

    Move the camera or move yourself into the camera view. Avoid being the disembodied voice.
  10. Participants should speak into a microphone

    If you are a participant in a large room with limited microphones, be sure to move near a microphone or wait until the microphone is passed to you before asking questions or making comments. Otherwise, the distant site participants will not be able to hear you.
  11. Create an easy to read presentation

    If you are using a computer presentation, make your onscreen text big and bold (36 points or larger), avoid large amounts of text on one slide, avoid complicated graphics, and avoid thin horizontal lines. Provide printed handouts at the other sites if your presentation must contain text-heavy slides or complicated graphics.
  12. Include all participants in your discussion

    If you are presenting to a group in your local videoconference room, do not forget about the participants at the other distant videoconference sites. Be sure to include them by frequently asking questions or calling for comments. It is a good idea to ask for questions or comments by site name, rather than just opening the videoconference for questions.
  13. Pause every thirty minutes for long presentations

    If your presentation is long, pause every thirty minutes and interact with the participants at the other sites to make sure that they feel included. If you take breaks, provide the distant site participants with a specific clock time when the videoconference will resume.
  14. Mute your presentation after its completed

    Be sure to mute your microphones at the end of the videoconference to avoid transmitting post-conference conversations to the other sites.

For additional information about planning and facilitating videoconferences, please contact TTVN Scheduling at (979) 862-2240 or contact TTVN.

How to Look like a Star in a Videoconference

  1. Have an agenda.

    Prepare and distribute a specific agenda for the videoconference. Allocate a specific amount of time for each agenda item. Stay on time so that the videoconference does not end before the agenda is completed.
  2. Learn how to operate the videoconference system before your videoconference.

    Be sure you understand its capabilities and limitations. Know how to get videoconference assistance locally and from TTVN. Presenter credibility tends to diminish if the presenter does not effectively operate the videoconference system or understand how videoconferencing works.
  3. Distribute all of your documents.

    Distribute meeting notes, presentations, and other documents to the participants by email or other means well before the videoconference.
  4. Announce the date and time of your videoconfernce.

    Make sure that all participants know the date, time, and their specific location for the videoconference.
  5. Make sure that your appearance is professional and tailored to the videoconference environment

    1. Clothing - Avoid reds, blacks, and whites that may "bloom" or look too bright or dark on video. Wear basic blues, grays, browns, or pastels. Avoid small patterns (like hounds tooth or iridescent material) that are difficult for the videoconference system cameras to handle.
    2. Accessories - Avoid large shiny, dangly earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. They may be distracting and can potentially make a lot of extraneous noise.
    3. Contrast - Check the videoconference room in advance to make sure that your clothing provides good contrast against the background wall color.
  6. Configure your presentation for the videoconference

    1. Basic, simple PowerPoint presentation formats work best.
    2. Design your PowerPoint presentation at a screen resolution of 1024x768 to assure that it displays appropriately on all videoconference screens.
    3. Make sure to configure any other documents in the landscape format that fits the video screen. Landscape format is basically four units across for every three units high (4:3) for standard definition videoconferences and 16 units wide by nine units high (16:9) for high definition videoconferences.
    4. Use black print on a white background for maximum readability at distant videoconference sites. Avoid white print on black backgrounds. Avoid low contrast between background and text (i.e. light blue text on a medium blue background).
    5. Provide a large margin on all four sides of your presentation. The videoconference transmission may not display the edges of graphics and presentation slides. To be certain, keep all text within the default PowerPoint text boxes.
    6. Use large, simple fonts. Use a minimum of 36-point fonts. Use sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana.
    7. Use concise bullets instead of large blocks of text. Use your bullets to reinforce your verbal presentation, not to convey your entire message.
    8. Use no more than six bullets per slide and six words per bullet.
    9. Break down complex topics into multiple bullets and slides.
    10. Use graphics where appropriate, but make sure that they are large and clear enough to be viewable at distant videoconference sites.
    11. If you must include text-heavy slides or complex graphics, be sure to provide all videoconference participants with printed handouts.
    12. If you will play audio or video from a computer as part of your presentation, test playback of the audio or video with another videoconference site prior to your presentation. Make sure that the other site can hear and see your presentation audio or video.
  7. Start on time

    If you are the meeting leader, start on time. If you are a meeting participant, arrive on time. Watch the clock, and plan to end on time.
  8. Know the camera's position

    During the videoconference, make sure that you are always in camera view. Also, remember that you may be in camera view, even if you cannot see your own image.
  9. Remember your microphone etiquette

    • During the videoconference, make sure that you are always near a microphone. Mute your microphone if you are not speaking or need to cough.
    • Put you mobile phone on vibrate or turn it off.
  10. Interact with your audience

    During the videoconference, be sure to interact with the participants at the other videoconference sites.
  11. Mute your microphone after your videoconference

    Be sure to mute your microphones at the end of the videoconference to avoid transmitting post-conference conversations to the other sites.
  12. Always assume that the microphones and cameras are ON in any videoconference room.

    Even if the video screens are dark, the system and the microphones may be on and transmitting audio and video to other sites.

For additional information about planning and facilitating videoconferences, please contact TTVN Scheduling at (979) 862-2240 or contact TTVN.