Tips and tricks for virtual meeting platforms like Webex

Whether your business has returned to the office, switched over to remote work completely, or utilizes a hybrid approach, virtual meeting platforms like Webex are here to stay. And whether you’re a veteran of virtual meeting platforms, or you’ve just started using them, there a few easy ways to optimize the experience for yourself and all others in your meeting.

Here are a few key guidelines to keep in mind before skipping to the technical aspects:

  • Webex is a meeting platform, not a conferencing platform. It is designed to mimic being in the same room with your other meeting attendees as closely as possible.
  • Turn the video function on during meetings whenever possible. For many, using video can be an extremely uncomfortable experience, but the more you use it, the more comfortable you will become when presenting.
  • Practice, practice, practice. The next time you meet with a co-worker to discuss a project, turn your video on and ask for constructive feedback. Are your video and audio clear? Is there anything distracting in the background? The more feedback you get, the better you will look and sound in your next meeting.

Bandwidth

Your access to high download and upload speeds is imperative to a good meeting experience. Whenever possible, try to physically plug into your network with an Ethernet jack. This should result in a smoother audio and video experience as you will be directly connected to a dedicated network resource.

Remember that Wi-Fi and broadband home networks are a shared resource. This means that if you are working from home and your entire family or even your neighbors are using devices that require high upload and download speeds (online games, for example), your meeting audio and video quality may suffer. The ideal place to interact with your meeting platform is at your local office, plugged into the network with an Ethernet cable. This gives you the best chance for quality audio and clear video.

Setting up your physical space

  • Keep the horizontal middle of your monitor at or above your eyeline. This will prevent you from swinging your head up and down when looking at the video feed of an attendee, and then moving to look at the camera while speaking. This may require a monitor stand or a stack of thick books to get to the proper height.
  • Mind the “clack.” Do your best to ensure that your keyboard is quiet when taking notes so that your microphone does not pick up the sound of the keyboard.
  • Always set your camera at or above your eyeline (no one wants to be able to see up our noses). This can be difficult if your video device is built into your laptop.

If using a laptop, the following is recommended for an optimal experience:

  • A stand for your laptop so that the camera can be at or above eye level.
  • A full-size keyboard and mouse so that your laptop can remain in one place with the video angle you want while you type comfortably at a level closer to your wrists.
  • A port replicator/docking station. This allows you to make one connection to your work laptop with ports for a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse.
  • A dedicated USB camera capable of producing 1080p HD resolution.
  • A dedicated audio device. These can be:
    • Your handset at your desk
    • A dedicated headset that can be connected to your desk phone or a software-based client phone
    • A cell phone with a dedicated headset
    • A USB webcam with a built-in microphone or speakers

Once you have a physical setup that you’re comfortable with, it’s important to use that setup consistently. The more you use video for your meetings, the more confident you will be when addressing others over video.

“Can you hear me now?”

There are three main ways that you can connect to audio during a meeting:

  • Use computer audio
  • Call me (this is where the meeting platform calls you at a number you specify)
  • Dial-in (this is where you manually dial into the meeting by typing in the long number along with the access code and your Attendee ID)

Webex audio connection tips:

  • “Call me” provides clearer, more consistent audio, as it generates a dedicated voice channel for your audio to come through.
  • “Call me” also allows you to choose the phone you’d like to use based on where you’re working, ensuring the best audio experience.
  • Whenever you use computer audio, you allow your voice to be turned into data packets that ride the same connection as the video and data sharing connection. When connected to a Wi-Fi signal, some of those packets are likely to become lost, resulting in a “jittery” voice.
  • If you are attending a meeting and “Use Computer Audio” is the only option (which can sometimes be the case), be sure to use a good headset. Typically, a good headset consists of:
    • A USB-based headset with a dedicated microphone, or
    • A Bluetooth-based headset with a dedicated microphone

Pro tip: Always double-check that you are either on mute or off mute, and ensure that you only have one controllable instance of mute during your meeting. Muting your endpoint audio (i.e., your desk phone or cell phone) along with your audio or your headset can leave you open to a dreaded “triple-mute.” 

Lighting

In most cases, the best lighting setup is when you face a window with natural light, but not direct sunlight. Adjusting your blinds and shades or turning your desk setup 90 degrees can also make a tremendous difference.

Some of the worst lighting setups are:

  • Direct sunlight behind you, shining into the camera. This puts you in silhouette and can cause lens flare for others in your meeting.
  • No light at all except the screen illuminating your face. While everyone will see your face, it might make you look like you just woke up.

Don’ts and Do’s of Webex Video Meetings

Don’t:

  • Expect Webex’s new virtual backgrounds to fix any lighting issues. Try to find a good source of natural light whenever possible.
  • Get frustrated if your pets or your children interrupt your video. With many working from home today, we all can expect interruptions to happen. The best way to handle this is to apologize, mute yourself, deal with the interruption, and move on.
  • Interrupt others when they are speaking.
  • Forget that you are on video. Remember, people can see you! You are in a meeting, so be sure to act the same as you would if you were in the room with them.

Do:

  • Look at the camera when you speak. This takes a lot of practice, as it is natural to look at the person’s image onscreen when you are speaking to someone specific. However, when you are speaking, people are looking at you, so be sure your entire range of facial expressions are visible.
  • Use your natural facial expressions. It’s best if you don’t smile all the time. This isn’t a photo shoot, and we all know that not every meeting is going to be sunshine and rainbows. Others within the meeting may even be looking for your facial cues, and it’s always acceptable to show them.
  • Let others see your space. Sometimes, things in the background like sports memorabilia, classic guitars or pets can lead to a relationship-building moment that may not exist when meeting in person.
  • Take a close look at what is in the frame of your video. Before every meeting, check your background in your video frame. Make sure everything showing up behind you is meeting-appropriate.
  • Pay attention! Remember, people can see you, so they can tell if you are multitasking and not paying attention. They can also tell if you are typing or answering texts.
  • Turn your video off if you need to get up and move from your video space.
  • Have fun! Though we may be separated by many miles, we all want to see our co-workers and colleagues in person when we can. Feel free to laugh, joke and have fun whenever possible during these meetings. 

Virtual meeting platforms like Webex will be here for the foreseeable future, so get comfortable! Keep the advice above in mind when using virtual meeting platforms and you’ll be set up for more successful, productive meetings.

If you have questions about virtual meeting platforms like Webex or want to learn more about digital collaboration, be sure to contact us today. To request a free enterprise trial of Webex, please email siriuswebextrials@siriuscom.com.