Due to the current situation with coronavirus, we’ve composed this blog by adding explanations for using the tools built to organize video conferencing calls, of which Zoom is most common and ordinary. The reason is simple: social distancing, which is prescribed as one of the obligatory measures, in addition to socializing, prevents people from cooperating in business through meetings within and outside companies, as well as through office conversations.
So, if you need to interact with people who don’t work in your office, which can be your associates from other offices, cities, or even countries, as well as with your clients, organizing a video call is one of the best ways to communicate with them.
Advantages of a Video Call Over a Regular Call
The advantages of a video call over a regular call, when it comes to talking to multiple people at the same time, are indeed numerous and some of the most important are:
- You can understand much better what a person is saying if you see his/her facial expression and the gestures he/she makes,
- You always know who’s talking because most of these tools work to magnify the person speaking, in the sense that their camera is dominantly visible,
- You can share your computer screen with others and explain things on that screen, which is excellent and makes the meeting significantly more productive,
- You can share documents, links, and similar stuff during the meeting using the chat functionality of such applications,
- Some of the applications have the ability to record a meeting, which can be very useful, especially if the video call is intended for some education.
No matter which tool you use, there are specific steps you need to take to prepare for a video conference call successfully. Read more about them below.
- Pick a Tool
- Schedule an Appointment
- Send the Invitation a Few Days in Advance
- Prepare a Simple Instruction on How Participants Should Connect
- Prepare a Location From Which to Participate in the Meeting
- Find Adequate Video and Audio Equipment
1. Pick a Tool
The first thing you need to do is choose the tool you’ll use for these types of meetings. If we had talked about this topic, let’s say 5 years ago, each of you would probably have thought of Skype as the right solution first. Today, however, Zoom has become practically the standard when it comes to conference calls. The free version is fully functional and the only limitation it has is that the meeting can’t last longer than 45 minutes.
When it comes to good but also free tools, it’s worth mentioning Google Hangouts, which can also do a pretty good job. If the conference call doesn’t involve more than 2 participants, you can use the usual chat applications that almost all of us have on our phones, and more and more on computers, such as Viber or WhatsApp.
For those who are versed with programming knowledge, you can create your own group chat, written in PHP that uses AJAX as a transport system and MySQL as database storage: multiple rooms, private chats, and mobile-friendly chat can be made this way.
How to Install Zoom?
Let’s start with how to install Zoom on desktop computers. You can download the Zoom from its Download Center. There you can find, aside from a program itself, numerous plugins that Zoom offers which you might use at some point during conversations but also not related to them, such as Zoom Plugin for IBM Notes, Zoom Extension for Browsers, etc.
After you have downloaded the Zoom installation file, find the location where it’s located on your computer and then, by clicking on it, start its installation. In just a few seconds after launch, the program will be installed on your PC.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you already have a link for an agreed session, clicking on that link (example: https://zoom.us/j/111-222-333) will automatically download the adequate Zoom application, and all you have to do is just to install it.
How to Install Zoom – Smartphone?
The procedure for Android phones and iPhones is similar, except that if you use the latter, you may not see some of the messages that will be displayed to Android users during installation. So, launch the Play Store, type the “zoom cloud meetings” in the search bar, and when the icon named like that appears, click on it. Install the app and then run it.
How to Organize a Zoom Meeting and Invite Participants?
- Click “Join a Meeting”. In the upper field, enter the 9-digit number you received by email or in the Viber group, while in the lower field, enter your name. After that, click the “Join Meeting” below.
- If the session hasn’t started yet, you’ll see the message: “Waiting for the host to start this meeting.” If you’re a host, click on “Sign In”.
- Allow the Zoom app to use the microphone and camera and click “Join with video”.
- To answer questions, click the “Call via Device” audio field or the “Join Audio” icon. If you need to answer a question, swipe your finger over the 3 dots at the bottom and move to the left screen.
- You turn on your microphone by clicking “Tap to speak”. After answering the question, click “Done Speaking”. To see the image of the session again, swipe your finger over the three dots at the bottom and go to the middle screen.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on how your phone is set up, you’ll see some of the messages explained in the previous guide in either your native language or English. Of course, every smartphone model has some more options that aren’t universal, so keep that in mind when following the instructions.
2. Schedule an Appointment
Once you have selected a tool, schedule an appointment in the tool itself. As a result, you’ll receive a URL that you can share with other participants so that they can connect and participate in the meeting.
If you use Zoom and Google Calendar, you can connect everything automatically and even, if you want, you can make a Zoom conference call directly from Google Calendar.
During the session, people can watch you speak or some content that exists on your screen, such as a presentation. If you want them to watch you, you need to turn on the camera and start the video by clicking on the “Start Video” in the lower-left corner. If you want to share some content from your computer, click on “Share Screen” and select the screen you want others to see.
How to Schedule a Zoom Appointment for a Later Date?
If you want to schedule an appointment in advance, you can do so by selecting the “Schedule Meeting” option. You have the opportunity to choose the date and time you want it to be held, duration time, is it going to be a video or not, topic… After clicking on “Schedule”, you’ll see the event in your Google Calendar.
3. Send the Invitation a Few Days in Advance
This is perhaps the most important thing. Send an invitation to the meeting a few days in advance so that everyone has time to get organized and prepare for the meeting. If possible, it’s best to send a meeting invitation through Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook, where you can schedule an appointment and where others can confirm their participation.
In the invitation, be sure to specify which tool will be used, and send instructions for connecting. In addition, send a link to join the meeting. This link will, of course, be used by participants to connect to the meeting but also to test if everything works as they go through the connection instructions you sent them.
4. Prepare a Simple Instruction on How Participants Should Connect
Depending on which tool you choose, it’s always a good idea to make a simple instruction on how other invitees can join in at any time. Make the instructions with screenshots and deliver it to the participants on time, which is at least a few days before the meeting, and ask them to try everything and let you know if there are certain difficulties in order to react in time.
5. Prepare a Location From Which to Participate in the Meeting
You should prepare the location keeping in mind 3 things:
- It needs to be as isolated as much as possible from surrounding sounds,
- It needs to look neat,
- It needs to have enough light.
Since you’ll probably be in the apartment during the session, you need to find a place that will fulfill the previous 3 requirements as much as possible. This can be especially challenging if you’re in an apartment with small children, who can come in at any time, or who are playing, which can often be very loud. Also, test the angle of your camera to make sure you are seen well and be at an appropriate angle.
An additional requirement would be to charge your smartphone prior to the video call or to make sure its battery is charged to at least 50%. You don’t want your phone to turn off in the middle of the call during a discussion on highly sensitive matters, right?
6. Find Adequate Video and Audio Equipment
Our recommendation is to use headphones that have a microphone, which is a much simpler combination than using a microphone as a separate device. In addition, headphones that go directly to the ear look much better at a meeting than those that are put over the head. Of course, like everyone else, you need to test the equipment a few days before the meeting. Video conference calls are a great way to communicate for teams that allow them to hold very productive meetings, no matter where the team members are.