Faculty of ManagementComenius University in Bratislava

A QUICK GUIDE TO VIDEO CONFERENCE CALLS FOR BEGINNERS

Are you planning a video conference call with your fellow students or colleagues, but you are not sure if you have the necessary equipment? Or are you wondering how to make it all as simple as possible? Let us advise you how to go about it.


25. 03. 2020 14.57 hod.
By: CU Public Relations Office

Being an employee or student of our university automatically means that you have a university email address with the identifier @uniba.sk, which brings many benefits. One advantage is the full computer versions of MS Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook). You can take advantage of all these benefits by simply logging in with your university email using the format of your username (e.g., smith2@uniba.sk) and password at uniba.sk/office365.

Outlook is ideal for easily planning a video conference call, which you can use for a lecture, seminar, or meeting. Those who you invite only need to have a web browser.

Step 1: In the Outlook calendar, select the "New Event" option, then click on “Online Meeting - Teams Meeting". Then just specify the time and date, and write the email addresses of the people you want to invite to the video conference.

This is how it looks when using your university email address in a web browser:

 

Step 2: Office365 then creates a video conferencing room for this purpose and sends a link to all participants for access to it (this is operational approximately fifteen minutes before the start of the video conference call). People just need to open the email, click on the link, and they are in.

A big advantage of this method is that you can invite anyone to the call. They do not even need to be part of the university.

 

Seven video conference call rules:

1.       During the online meeting, you need firstly all hear others; secondly, you need to be able to engage in the discussion so that others can hear you; thirdly, you need to see all the participants in the meeting and you need to be seen by them. Therefore, it is very important to have a functional headset with a working microphone. A good headset is lightweight and wireless; it has a microphone mute button, and it can be used while charging. A radio headset is better than the one that connects to your computer via Bluetooth. A radio headset can work through multiple walls and cover the entire apartment, allowing you to move away from your PC or mobile phone and keep in touch with colleagues when necessary.

2.       Unless it is absolutely necessary, do not turn on the speaker during the online meeting, because you will produce an echo every time you speak. It's not a pleasant sound. Use headphones or headsets instead.

3.       Always try to join the online meeting at least ten minutes in advance so that you can resolve any technical connectivity issues. Thanks to the “test call” functionality, you can easily verify whether you can hear your colleagues well and whether others can hear you. This will avoid unnecessary stress and chaos as well as the annoyance of other video conferencing participants who are waiting for you to sort yourself out. In the worst case scenario, you may miss the start of the meeting and any introductory information that you may need later.

4.       If no one can hear you, check to see if the microphone is turned off. There can be up to three places where it may be turned off: in the programme that that is hosting the video conference, in the computer's settings in the "equipment and sound" section of the control panel, and  the crossed-out microphone icon which can be found in the taskbar on the display at the bottom.

5.       Turn off the microphone whenever you are not speaking, otherwise you will make unnecessary sounds (even when you are silent) which will disturb others. This is especially the case with multi-participant video conferencing, where the programme will automatically switch the display to the person who made a sound.

6.       Remember that you are at a business meeting, even when you are sitting at home. Do not succumb to the temptation to do other things and not pay any attention. Even without the camera on you, it is evident when someone is not paying enough attention during a meeting and is unable to respond appropriately and promptly. Such behaviour is not only unethical but also ineffective, as it unnecessarily stretches the meeting out through repeated explanations or questions.

7.       If you need to take a short break, also join the ongoing meeting via your mobile. The technologies we use make it possible without appearing to be at the video conference in duplicate or breaking your connection.

Recommendations for video conference organizers:

Be prepared in advance to lend a hand to technically less savvy participants in the online meeting. Give them instructions on how to handle these aspects, or try a video conference call with them in advance. Otherwise, the first few minutes of the scheduled online meeting will be spent addressing these technical matters.

It is necessary for you to moderate the discussion. As soon as people start talking to each other all at once, chaos ensues. Participants may not even realize this is happening, as their audio connections may have different delays.

Pass along the opportunity to speak. It must be clear at every moment who should talk. If necessary, you can remotely turn off the microphone of a problematic participant, but be sure to tell them this in the chat messenger so that they are aware of it.