Video Conferencing Etiquette

Material sourced and adapted from Video Conferencing Etiquette - Research & Education Advanced Network NZ Ltd

Introduction

The effectiveness of video conferencing can be influenced by many factors, one of which is the way participants interact with each other and the technology during collaboration. Certain behaviours during a video conference can be distracting to a speaker or other participants.  First time users are often unaware of this.

Attending  a video conferencing session can at first feel disconcerting and different from a face to face meeting. Attendees should generally just act naturally and behave in the same way as they would in a face to face group meeting. This tutorial aims to help new users understand some of the important behaviours that contribute to effective, comfortable video conferencing.

Preparation

Arrive Early

For larger meetings, to avoid potential technical interruptions or delays eating into the beginning of your meeting, plan to connect 10-15 minutes before a meeting. This allows all participants to sort out any issues they might have before a meeting is officially meant to commence.

Check your requirements can be met

If you need to share a presentation, use a document camera, or have some other special requirement for your meeting, check in advance with the technician or booking service that the room or desktop system you are using can support such requests. For Access Grid meetings, a technician will generally be present and will greatly appreciate receiving any presentation files in advance.

Speaking and Listening

Speaking Volume

When users first approach video conferencing, they feel they need to speak loudly to be heard, often because the microphones are further from them than they expect. Most video conferencing microphones are extremely sensitive to sounds, and are effective up to a distance of about 2 meters without a speaker needing to raise their voice above a normal conversational level. When speaking during a video conference, try to maintain an even volume and speak as if you were conversing with someone else in the room. Excessive volume can be unpleasant to participants at other sites and in some cases can sound distorted, making long meetings unpleasant to listeners, and potentially causing them to stop paying attention.

Eye contact

When speaking, remember that looking at the camera is the only way to convey eye contact with your audience.  Loking at their image on screen will make it appear as though you are looking elsewhere. This depends considerably on the layout of your room, and is less of an issue when cameras are optimally placed in close proximity to screens.

Do not think that you must remain fixed on the camera at all times, but simply looking at it occasionally helps convey a sense of inclusion to your audience, which helps them remain attentive.

Distracting Noises & Muting Microphones

When another party is speaking for an extended period of time, such as delivering a presentation, it is a good idea to mute your microphone, particularly in multipoint meetings. This will stop any noises such as fidgeting, shuffling papers, taking notes, typing on a keyboard. from being broadcast across the meeting. Remember that microphones are very sensitive.  Typing  orshuffling of papers near one can almost drown out a speaker for listeners at other locations.

As a speaker, be aware of these noises, as your microphone will have to remain on. Try to shuffle papers quietly and avoid speaking while you are doing this. Lastly, if you are using a laptop to aid your presentation, be aware that these devices also generate considerable noise if placed close to microphones.

Interjecting

Video conferencing generally involves a slight delay or latency in signals being sent and received, similar to the effect of a long distance telephone call. For this reason, interrupting a speaker to add something, or ask a question can often result in a disjointed break in the meeting, as they will not hear instantly. In a larger meeting, the best idea when needing to interrupt a speaker may be to raise your hand instead.

Visual Considerations

Some examples showing incorrect framing, as well as an ideal composition.Camera position

Ensure your camera is framing your endpoint well. For a room with several people in it, the camera needs to be sufficiently zoomed out to include all participants in the image. For a desktop system, try to ensure that you are framed with your head and shoulders in the shot.

Additionally, try to position cameras at a height as close to eye level as possible. This allows other sites a good view of your face, and avoids unflattering angles such as looking up at nostrils, or down on heads.

Cameras on desktop systems are often mounted on top of monitors, and can be unintentionally repositioned by bumping a desk or the monitor directly. For this reason, it pays to check the composition of your image before every video conference you have, even if you do not have this image visible to yourself for the rest of the meeting.

Lighting

If you are using a desktop system, the chances are you may be configuring it yourself, and have limited means to control the lighting and decor in your room. However, there are still measures you can take to ensure you make the most of your surroundings.

While modern cameras are very good at automatically exposing to present a clear, useful image, they are still not as sophisticated as the human eye. If you are sitting in front of a bright background, many cameras will underexpose to compensate for this, which can result in your face appearing very dark. One instance of this is when desktop users sit at a computer with windows in the background. If you have windows behind you, shut the curtains or blinds to block this excessive light.

In an ideal situation an endpoint will have lights facing both down and on an angle towards faces. The down lighting provides the general ambient light for the room, while the angled lighting removes shadows from eyes and other facial features caused by the down lighting.

If you can face windows, this is an ideal way of achieving this effect. The general rule to remember is that evenly lit faces provide the best transmitted image.

Remaining attentive

While video conferencing tries to emulate the experience of a real encounter, there are still shortcomings in the technology. In larger meetings or presentations that are primarily one way, people often seem less attentive than in a face to face meeting.

While it may be more difficult to stay attentive in a long video conference or presentation, it is important to remember that although it may feel as if you are watching a one way video stream, your image is being broadcast back to the speaker, and excessive fidgeting or gesturing can be very off-putting. With this in mind, try to refrain from being overly animated or talking excessively to people in your own room while a speaker is talking at another location. Even with muted microphones, this behaviour is difficult to ignore when you are the speaker. This kind of behaviour tends to occur more frequently in video conferencing than it would in a face to face meeting, with people often conversing with each other at a muted site.Try to remember to conduct yourself as you would if everybody at the other locations was in your room with you.

The content on this page has been reproduced and adapted, with permission, from REANNZ.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

 

SeeVogh’s stand-alone application

SeeVogh-App

SeeVogh have been developing a stand-alone application. This application eliminates the need for users to install and maintain Java on their computer systems.  SeeVogh will automatically update the application as new features are added.  This eliminates all Java issues with SeeVogh, and gets rid of the headaches caused by browser and operating systems vendors constantly changing the security settings of their products. 

SeeVogh’s packaged client will download from the web and only requires to be installed once. The file to be downloaded is about 50 megabytes, so only take a minute or so to download on a fast network.  Once installed you can start the application.

To attend a meeting, paste the 10-digit meeting ID into the text box as shown above.

The meeting ID will be a 10-digit number sent to you by the meeting organiser. These digits are usually the last ten characters of the SeeVogh meeting invitation.

The stand-alone application is being developed for MAC OSX, Windows and Linux platforms. At this stage, the Mac OS X client is the only version recommended for general use. To download the application, simply click on the link provided below.

https://seevogh.com/seevoghdownload/ 

Windows and Linux versions are available now, but they are still in "Beta", so please only use these versions for testing, if you are having issues running the javaws (jnlp) version, or if you have been directed by the SeeVogh administrators.

SeeVogh dialing a H.323 endpoint

Any participant with moderator privileges can access the Call H.323/SIP client menu option.  To give yourself moderator privileges, simply  open participants list, right click on your  name and select “Enter Meeting Moderator Key” and then enter the meetings moderators key. Then this will make the “Call H.323/SIP client” available”.

seevogh screenshot

As you can see – this is pretty much similar to the EVO client, so enter ip-address, E164@gatekeeper address, etc to make a connection.

seevogh keypad


Using a H.323 Endpoint to dial in to Meeting

Unlike EVO, SeeVogh provides “dialling in” capabilities.  To join a meeting, simply using the following examples on your H.323 Endpoint device:

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. where XXX is the 10 digit meeting ID.
  • Mirial softphone, sip: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or
    h323: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Polycom H.323 devices require this format: gw.seevogh.com##XXX

If you have trouble connecting to a SeeVogh meeting, try using the IP address for gw.seevogh.com, which is 68.178.129.93, instead of the domin name.  Therefore, the syntax for try to connect to a meeting would be:

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. where XXX is the 10 digit meeting ID.

Feel free to provide feedback on this functionality to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Using the AccessGrid/SeeVogh Bridge

It is possible to use SeeVogh to specialised Access Grid Virtual Venues (Emu, Kangaroo and Platypus).

To join these specialised Access Grid Virtual Venues, simply click on one of the following links below.  This will trigger a SeeVogh process for connection:

Using the Bridge from Access Grid

In the "Access Grid Venue Client", from the APAG lobby (https://vv3.ap-accessgrid.org:8000/Venues/default), navigate to the AG-EVO@AU Bridge Lobby and enter the desired bridge venue.

seevogh file screenshot

Caveats (as at 15/10/2012)

  • Access Grid users should use AGTK version 3.2 or higher and have HD/H.264 node services (particularly video consumers) in use.
  • Access Grid users should set their transmitted video to use either H.261 or H.264 (this may be problematic), as MPEG4 encoding streams cannot be seen by SeeVogh users.
  • Desk Share (SeeVogh) can be seen by both AG and EVO users;
  • VPCScreen (when using H.261AS encoding) can only be seen by Access Grid users.

Feel free to provide feedback on this functionality to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.