Regardless of if you are in the office or at home there are plenty of steps you can take to try and make sure that your video or voice call over your computer goes off with as small a hitch as possible. (there will always be a hitch!)

I don’t need to chat to people too often this way, but here are some things I have done in the past and continue to do regularly enough that I figured I should write them down;

Software

  • Kill Dropbox, Backblaze, and any other non-crucial service that syncs with the internet.
  • Kill anything that gives you notifications, this is kinda covered in my first point, but just to reiterate, email clients, twitter clients, all that stuff.
  • Kill anything that indexes your computer, could cause your computer to block for a second whilst it sorts itself out.
  • Actually, kill absolutely any service or application that you don’t think you will need for the call.
  • On the flip side, turn on any software that you think you might need, and load up any documents or files you might reference.
  • Test the conferencing software, make sure you have all the necessary drivers or plugins for your browser.

Hardware

  • If possible, use a wired internet connection.
  • If you are running off a battery powered device, plug it into mains power, regardless of how good you think battery life is or how short the call is.
  • Test your webcam - is it still working? Give it a clean whilst you are looking.
  • Test your microphone - is it picking up you and very little else?
  • Test your internet connection - You might not be able to do a great pile with the results, but it is worth knowing if it is running slow or not. If it is particularly bad it might be an idea to get the other party to host the call, the host normally has the most strain

Surroundings

  • Find the most quiet room that is convenient.
  • Put your phone on silent or preferably turn it off.
  • Let people know you are going to have a call and to not disturb you for a bit.
  • Remove any pets/animals from the room you will be in.
  • Check what people can see around you via the webcam, if there is a chance your computer might move check what could potentially be seen, tidy up anything you wouldn’t want them to see.
  • Do you have an alarm or anything that goes off on the hour or at any particular interval? Remove it.
  • Make sure there is good lighting and if natural light is at play, make sure that there is no chance at the time of the call the light could be blinding the camera through a window.

Personal / Other

  • Do you have a blocked nose or sore throat? If so is there something you can take before hand to maybe help your voice a little or stop you sniffing?
  • Check yourself in a mirror, make sure you look as presentable as you want to.
  • Brush your teeth, of course the people on the other end can’t smell your breath, but it will  make you feel more confident. Same goes for deodorant.
  • If you will be referencing any web pages, try and have as many as possible loaded up in advance, this will speed up the call and reduce the worry of the internet suddenly going a bit slow.
  • Speaking of web pages, don’t have anything open or any bookmarks on display that might end up embarrassing you.
  • Make sure you have a pen and paper - Avoid excessive typing because key-presses can often be picked up by on board microphones.
  • You could well be doing a call like this because it is international and needs to be remote, if so check and double check the agreed times, make sure you know the timezone that was mentioned and take into account things like British Summer Time.

Why not read some more of our General posts?