What Is A Videoconference? How Can It Benefit My Decision-Making?

A Videoconference allows virtual communication of video image as well as audio between meeting participants.

A well planned videoconference can significantly aid your persuasive speech or presentation, and that is the purpose of this page, to enhance decision-making.

A Videoconference is simply linking any number of telephone lines into the one call, so all participants can see each other, speak and discuss an issue at the same time. It’s virtual because the participants can be anywhere in the world and space, as long as they can access a telephone with video camera, or a mobile / cell phone with video facilities.

Videoconferencing can use

- normal telephone lines, a microphone (Headset)
and a webcam, or
- broadband or ISDN with sophisticated cameras
and an omni-directional meeting table microphone and speaker.

Considering this further.

Normally a telephone is used to connect two parties together. This is a one-to-one connection.

A Videoconference can powerfully connect:

- One-to-One as in a normal call
- One-to-Many (One person to many people)
- Many-to-Many (Board Rooms to Board Rooms) or
- Many-to-Many (individuals to many individuals).

Refer also to Virtual Meeting for general Meeting Preparation and Planning for all Virtual Meeting and Conferencing.

This Section notes those issues directly relevant to a Videoconference. There is an equivalent Section noting issues directly relevant to Teleconference.

The advantages and disadvantages have been discussed in Virtual Meetings and are very relevant to the Videoconference. The Videoconference overcomes the lack of non-verbal communications in a Teleconference, but at a higher cost due to the extra bandwidth requirements.

When considering a conference, there is a need to weigh up the need for video and audio input (videoconference) into the decision-making as opposed to simply audio (teleconference). There are times when the body language and facial responses associated with a Videoconference are important to the meeting.

Considerations for a Videoconference

A Videoconferenced Meeting is similar to a normal face-to-face meeting. Dependent on the Videoconferencing technology, one significant difference is that not all meeting participants can always be seen by the remote party. This means that you need to be attentive, as the remote party can control your camera.

Physical Considerations

- Meeting background (the camera’s background) is a plain wall or curtains with no distracting movements (eg not through a glass window or door where people pass);
- Spurious sounds are isolated, for example people speaking adjacent to the meeting;
- Seating needs to be comfortable;
- Table needs to be clear of unnecessary obstructions;
- Name cards (if used) large enough and clearly visible;
- Refreshments and glasses, water etc are available as required;
- Lighting needs to be adequate.

Hardware Considerations

- Turn on the Camera and Speaker switches;
- Check the Sound is at an acceptable level.

Meeting Personnel

Chairperson – instigator of the Conference. Organises the Minutes Secretary.

Executive Officer (optional) – ensures all is in order for the meeting, and that Actions are followed up (if appropriate). Not always a necessary position, but frees the Chairperson of the basic meeting organisation - the position may have other names;

Minutes Secretary – usually a non-participating meeting member.

Meeting Manners and Etiquette

1. One week before the Meeting

The Agenda and relevant resources

. Agenda and other resources need to be made available to participants before the meeting for their preparation;
. eMail or Voice phone all participants to arrange a time for the meeting;
. Arrange with your telecommunications carrier (TC) for a bridge for the meeting (your TC will contact all participants and connect at the arranged time);
. Email or Fax agenda to all participants.

. Agree on Conditions for the Meeting. (Perhaps circulate on Agenda).

Local Considerations

. Focus on the Meeting and its Agenda.;
. The Meeting should be run as a normal meeting;
. Meeting procedure and commonsense prevails during a Videoconference as it does in a “normal” meeting;
. Whoever instigates the Conference should act as Chairperson. Each site participating should have a convenor;
. The Meeting Executive Officer should ensure that a copy of this Etiquette is placed on back of the Agenda and that participants take time to review before the meeting commences;
. The names of the Chairperson, the nominated convenor for each site and all attendees should be included on the Agenda; . Use the option Picture in Picture (if available) to see what they (Remote) are seeing of you;
. Don’t move too much. Excessive movement distracts from the meeting as the video system captures and retransmits any changes to an image;
. Watch your body language;
. Try to avoid wearing striped or checked garments as they over exaggerate movement. White shirts also have an adverse effect on the camera. Dark coloured clothing is less obtrusive;
. Be sensitive to personal seating arrangements. As an example, if a person has a hearing problem make sure they are close to the speaker, etc.

2. One Hour before the Meeting Begins

. In a multi-point conference it is important to have the local camera set up and focused on the participants beforehand. Set up pre-sets;
. The Person who instigates the meeting should open up any programs to be shared before the meeting begins and have them minimised on the task bar. This will save time during the meeting.

3. When the Meeting Begins

. The Chair will moderate the Videoconference;
. Be sure to agree on the length of meeting as per Agenda. The meeting length can be assisted by the on-screen clock;
. Establish Presets** (automatic pointing of the remote camera) for the camera if this is allowed with your technology;
. As basic as it sounds, and depending on your Videoconferencing technology, have a clear Agreed Procedure on who has control of the mouse. The Meeting Instigator should have ultimate control of the mouse and any participant should notify the Chair to take control of the mouse
. During Continuous Presence Meeting (3/4 participants) use a short wave to indicate a desire to speak. For a Switched Voice Meeting (5 or more participants) the speaking order is determined by the Order on the Agenda, for a specified time then if you wish to speak call out your first name to indicate a desire to speak. This will also put the camera focus on you;
. Where continuous presence is operating, the chairperson should indicate the order in which the participants should speak;
. If a Snapshot is required, ask the person before taking it;
. Only one person should be speaking at a time. The Speakers should identify themselves each by name. The presets can be used to focus on each speaker;
. If you wish to use the Muting option, be sure to Inform the Person of your intention;>BR> . In a Switched Voice Conference, it is advisable to press the mute button when someone else is speaking. This avoids any conversations that you might be having on site, inadvertently taking control of the camera;
. When Multi Point Conferencing, everyone takes care of their own camera.

Happy Videoconferencing!

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