Tips for hosting a successful videoconference

Video conferencing quality is affected by a number of factors. One of the most important of which is the connection speed of your system!

  • Test your technology ahead of time. If you’re using a new video conferencing platform or plan to connect from an entirely different location, do a test call and run a speed test to simulate the conditions.
    • To avoid wireless channel interference, connect your video system or desktop/laptop directly to your network.
    • When using Wi-Fi, ensure that you have adequate bandwidth for both upload and download, as this will affect the quality you present to the other participants as well as what quality you can receive from them. Traditionally, a speed of 384 kbps will achieve a lower resolution whereas call speeds of 1024 kbps will allow for high definition video with 720p resolution. Check your connection speed by going to any speed test site. (There is also an app version.)
    • If bandwidth or connection speed becomes an issue during your event, instruct student to turn off video and rely on audio to participate.
  • For best results, use a dedicated webcam (not the embedded system that came with your computer).
  • Use a headset or earpiece with lapel microphone to listen and talk without distracting echoes.
  • Consider the background. Choose a backdrop that won’t be distracting.
  • Consider additional lighting. A simple desk or floor lamp pointed toward your face (from behind the camera) can add the right amount of light to ensure you are perfectly visible to the other participants.
  • Avoid windows. windows can negatively impact the quality of light by either washing you out (too bright) or providing too much backlight (too dark). Whenever possible, make sure you are sitting with your back to a wall rather than a window.
  • Consider your appearance and remember to sit up straight and smile!
  • Test your audio and video quality before a call, using the ‘Local Video View’. This is the perfect way to check your lighting and background.
  • Schedule a test-run with our staff. We can provide you the opportunity to try out your system before you “go live” with your class.
  • Mute when you are not speaking (and encourage students to do the same). This will significantly reduce the chance of echoing and audio distortion.
  • Collect your talking points beforehand. Draft a brief introductory script including the key bullet points you need to cover, and any technical instructions.
  • Don’t over prepare. Although you should know your main talking points, avoid attempting to memorize a script word for word. Be flexible and prepared to improvise on the fly.
  • Consider recording the session. Session recordings are useful for makeup activities and as a resource for both you and the students to revisit at a later time.
  • Provide an “Introductory” overview of the videoconferencing technology at the start of your first session. Follow-up with a brief reminder of the technology interface (e.g., how to ask a question) at the start of each new session.
  • Get to know your students and call on them by name. This will help you to facilitate discussions and better engage your students by leading them in the right direction, rather than just being the “sage on the stage”.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be professional but be human. When you act naturally and speak extemporaneously, it puts everyone else at ease and builds a better connection with your students. The conversation becomes more engaging and more productive when everyone can relate to one another.
  • Offer to stay online a few extra minutes to address any additional questions about the activity or the course in general. Establishing that the event has reached it’s conclusion and offering to stay online for an additional 5 minutes establishes a good rapport with the students and allows you to see that everyone has left the session before you sign off.

To learn more, contact our Instructional Design team at ‪acadtech@cornell.edu!

Posted in Classroom Tech, Online Learning, Tech Tips for Faculty, Video

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