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Video Calls

Video Calls

We strongly favour Zoom for video calls. We’ve tried several alternatives, and this seems to be best for handling short dropouts and accommodating people with poor bandwidth.

Remote call etiquette

{% embed url="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMOOG7rWTPg" %}

Crappy sound and video is a killer

  • Turn your video on when meeting - it does make a difference when interacting with people. On tools like Zoom, you can enable this by default in the settings. Don’t forget that seeing someone on the video provides a more intimate connection, develops empathy quicker and forces people to get out of their pyjamas at a reasonable time of the day.
  • If one person is remote everyone’s remote. Open your laptop and share your video feed even if most people are in the room. This provides a more inclusive environment for those who are remote and levels the playing field for all participants.
  • Find a quiet place, with good acoustics. Shared office spaces with coffee cups clinking in the background are very distracting, similar to rooms with lousy acoustics.
  • Avoid sitting in front of a window or strong light source, as the backlight will tend to make you appear as a silhouette.
  • Be present in the meeting: close BBC News, YouTube, etc. in your browser.
  • Low bandwidth / high latency internet connections suck for everyone. If you are experiencing this in a meeting, ask all participants to turn off the video or try to use a video conferencing tool that has regional dial-in options as a back-up.
  • Buy a decent microphone; this is so important, really
  • Be on mute by default. Use a tool like Shush, which enables your microphone via a hotkey.
  • Is everyone there? Check that everyone can see, hear and be heard at the start of the call. A simple “hi” is all it takes.
  • Communicate clearly. If you speak at 300 words per minute or are soft-spoken, be aware, and take extra steps to compensate.
  • Appreciate the Differences. Cultural differences affect the way people act and interpret the actions of others. Even if you are speaking a common language, there will be words that you use that don’t have the universal meaning you think they do. Holidays will have different levels of significance, so maybe don’t plan for people to be available for Thanksgiving or Diwali, even if you are working. Step back, reflect and appreciate the diversity.
  • Human Interactions. Leave some space for some social interaction at the start of meetings. Dial into meetings 5 minutes early and see what essential information surfaces just through normal human chit-chat.
  • Record the meeting. Record the Zoom for those not able to attend due to time zones. If you are using a whiteboard, go electronic, so everyone watching the video has the full context.

Pro-tip

{% hint style="info" %} You can integrate Google Calendar with Zoom and then join meetings directly from the Zoom app with 1 click, without having to fetch links from Calendar events and whatnot:

  1. Sign in with Google into https://zoom.us/profile
  2. At the bottom click Calendar and Contact Integration and go through the authorisation steps
  3. Open the zoom.us app and see you daily meetings in the Home or Meetings tab {% endhint %}
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