So you may have heard the term “video conference” (also referred to as a video teleconference, video meeting or web conference), but what exactly is it? Here is a quick guide.
What is a video conference?
A video conference allows two or more people to communicate via live video through an Internet connection (whether using a webcam or integrated video). It also allows users to share their screens if they’re using a desktop or tablet device and speak through connected audio. Some providers offer the benefit of built-in audio, which makes video conferencing a fast, easy and cheap way to meet with others, regardless of their location.
Video has become standard for a lot of technology providers, but you may still hear people using terms such as “virtual meetings” or “online meetings”. These have been used to describe the ability to hold a meeting online, with or without video, for many years, although they ultimately mean the same thing these days.
What’s a video conference for?
There are so many things you can do with a video conference:
- Catch up with colleagues “face to face”, even if you work remotely
- Present your latest product to a client
- Collaborate and work together on a document
- Make announcements to your global employees
- Host a team-building event, such as chocolate tasting or fancy dress
- Hold online training sessions
- Brainstorm with team members
- Attend meetings with people in remote locations, even different countries
- Save money through reduced travel and free audio offered by some providers
- Plan and watch a wedding!
What are the advantages of a video conference?
Cost reductions. Firstly, there is the obvious reduction in travel costs that come as a result of meeting virtually. By holding more meetings online, you don’t have to travel, which of course reduces your expenses and saves a ton of time.
Body language cues. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how a person feels without seeing the expression on their face. For example, you may be managing an employee who works remotely — by being able to see their face via video, you get a better idea of how they’re really doing.
A personal element. A meeting with a video connection adds a real, human element. It allows for communication on a much deeper level than what you experience on a telephone. Not long ago, I was on a video meeting with a colleague who had recently had a little baby boy. I was able to meet her son that day through webcam. It was so nice to share a part of her family life — and it certainly enhanced our professional relationship.
Isolation reduction. If you are fortunate enough to work from home, you may find that sometimes it gets a little lonely sitting at your desk all day with only your cat for company. Again, a video conference gives you the ability to connect with people.
Recording functionality. Another important feature to remember is the recording functionality. Being able to record a meeting enables you to keep a record of what was discussed, as well as pass it on to other members of the team who were unable to attend.
Collaboration! It’s one of those words you’ll hear us mention a lot. Meeting virtually through a tool such as GoToMeeting enables you to work together on pretty much anything. A spreadsheet, a Word document, a new website design, a presentation — you name it. If it’s on your computer or tablet, you can share it with anyone and collaborate away. Get those creative juices flowing!
Greater flexibility. You can join ad hoc meetings immediately should you need to, as there are no travelling times to take into consideration. And of course you can still meet even when tube strikes or snow storms hit. (But you might not see that as being so great if you’re a fan of sledging!)
What do I need to join a video conference?
Not a lot! Here is all that you need:
- Desktop, tablet or mobile device
- Headset or earphones with a built-in mic
- Internet connection
- Integrated or free-standing webcam (an HD webcam is recommended for the best visual quality, although this will also be dependent on the provider you choose)
Try hosting your own video conference with a free trial of GoToMeeting.
To learn more about video conferencing, here are a couple of additional resources you may like to review:
- The Ultimate Checklist for Video Conferences and Online Meetings
- How to Perfect Your Body Language for Online Presentations
Have you got any further questions on video conferences? Or have you got any great suggestions on how you can use them? Comment away!