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Video conferencing is a type of online virtual meeting where two or more people chat via video and audio call in real time. Video conferencing has been around for years, but its popularity has skyrocketed as school and work moved home during the 2020 pandemic. If video calling is still relatively new to your world, don’t worry. not.
Here’s everything you need to know to get up and running.
Types of videoconferencing
A videoconference can be:
- Point to point. A one-on-one conversation involving two participants in different locations. A video call with a customer or a customer service representative, for example, is a point-to-point video conference.
- Multipoint. Also known as “group video conferencing” or “group calls,” this is a conversation that involves three or more people in two or more locations. It could be a business meeting with some attendees at the office and others remotely, or a webinar where one person broadcasts to viewers in multiple locations.
What is required for video conferencing?
To join or host a basic videoconference, you need:
- A desktop or laptop computer
- A webcam
- A microphone
- Speakers or headphones
- High Speed Internet Access
- An account with a videoconferencing service
- Most laptops come with a built-in camera, microphone, and speakers, and these are sufficient for basic conferencing. For more privacy, you can connect a headset, which usually includes a microphone as well. For a sharper picture, purchase a third-party webcam.
To join or host video conferences with multiple participants in one room, your business can purchase a conference room setup to capture the best video and audio from all participants in the room.
A conference room setup can include:
- A TV with an HDMI input
- Equipment of your videoconferencing service
- An omnidirectional microphone (for example, Polycom or Meeting Owl)
Video conferencing software
Tons of video conferencing services exist to serve all types of businesses, organizations, classrooms, and social gatherings.
Here are some of the most popular:
- Zoom. Zoom makes it easy to video, audio, text chat, screen sharing, small groups, whiteboard collaboration and more. It is most popular for business calls and webinars, but can also be used for teaching.
- Google Meet. Included with any free Google account, Google Workspace (for business) or Google Classroom (for education). It offers similar capabilities to Zoom, but uses more bandwidth and is slightly more user-friendly than Zoom.
- Microsoft teams. Integrated with Microsoft 365, it works similarly to Google Meet, easily integrating with MS 365 tools such as Word and other applications in the Office suite.
Your business, organization, or institution may use another option, such as Webex, Anymeeting, Highfive, Skype, Slack, Zoho, or Dialpad.
These services require all participants to download software if they want to send audio or video. Some allow participants to view an online webinar without downloading any software. To start a meeting without creating an account or downloading any software, use these services:
Frequently Asked Questions
How does videoconferencing work?
Video conferencing software instantly captures video and audio from participants, compresses the data, sends it over the Internet connection, and decompresses it to present the video and audio to the recipient.
What are the advantages of videoconferencing?
Video conferencing enables face-to-face communication and often includes options such as screen sharing, document tagging, workshops, chat, feedback, and quizzes that give attendees more ways to interact, for example compared to audio calls only. Connecting people through video conferencing expands an organization’s options by not requiring participants to be in one location.
What are the disadvantages of using videoconferencing?
Video conferencing requires a high-speed internet connection and a lot of bandwidth. This can make them inaccessible to anyone who does not have high speed internet access at home. It also comes with a technological learning curve that can make it difficult and inefficient for some participants.
How to configure videoconferencing?
To participate in a video conference, you need a webcam, microphone, and speakers. You may need an account with the video conferencing service, and the most popular services require that you download software before joining or hosting a call. To set up a conference room in your office, contact a video conferencing service representative.
What is the best video conferencing app?
Zoom is the most popular video conferencing app in the United States. Many businesses use Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Skype, and Dialpad for conference calls and video conferences.