Those of you who know me are aware that I am a HUGE fan of videoconferencing. Even back in the Dell days, the videoconference was my primary method of communicating with my coworkers as well as my customers. As a private consultant, 90% of my business is conducted via videoconferencing. It’s important when embarking upon a videoconferencing format that you have all of the right tools in place to maximize the efficiency of your meetings. I wanted to share the toolsets that I use to conduct my videoconferencing.
Let’s face it, videoconferencing is going to eat up a lot of technology resources; especially CPU. It’s going to be very important that you have the most powerful computer you can in order to conduct appropriate videoconferencing. I used to use a Mac and absolutely loved it. But because of the limitations with Microsoft Office, I reverted back to a Windows device and chose the Dell platform simply because “you dance with those who brung you”. I thoroughly enjoyed the use of the Precision Workstation (5530) simply because it has a lot of RAM, ample hard drive, very fast processor and fits nicely in my computer bag. It is a little bigger than my Mac but provides me the power that I need to conduct my business.
Videoconferencing is all about video and in order to have the best video experience, you need a good camera. I have gone through 4-5 different types of WebCams over the past 10 years and have settled on the Logitech C930. It provides me with quality video, minimal resources against the computer, and easy integration into my other conferencing tools.
Bluetooth just doesn’t cut it and I need the ability to be wireless for the audio and this is the tool that I chosen. This microphone is my newest addition to the conferencing suite and I’ve been very happy with it. It connects USB back to the computer system, allows me the freedom to move around and can even switch to a Bluetooth system whenever my telephone rings. The audio quality is superb and I’ve been very happy with the tool in using Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate into my computer for word processing. This is been one of the best moves I’ve made in years.
Quality video is critical and in order to have good video, lighting is the key. Again I tried several different types of lighting products but this Elgato product provides me the brightness I need, the softness required in the overall ease of operation for quality lighting in a videoconference. The light connects to your computer via USB and you can control it to USB controls.
I’m getting into green screen more and more and used to use a green sheet pasted over the back wall behind me. That works until you have to move your system around and it’s difficult to replace the sheet on the wall. There are a number of projection screen/green screen products on the market but I found one from Elgato that sits on the floor and pulls up forming a nice soft green background that can interface with my green screen software and just the way I like it and not requiring a lot of lighting.
Speaking of green screen, software is country required in order to implement green screen techniques. I used to use Manycam but the resources on my computer for the software were so high that it was affecting CPU usage. Along came SparkoCam and some of my problems were solved. This is an excellent piece of software for virtual web camming and provides ample tools to make my green screen experience a very positive one. Easy to operate, minimal technology resources required and the ability to integrate both with an integrated WebCam as well as my Logitech WebCam made this a perfect choice.
I started with Zoom, migrated to WebEx, tried Teamviewer and finally discovered GoToMeeting. I absolutely love this software for videoconferencing. It’s not free but most things that are good are not. This software provides me all of the tools I need to conduct excellent videoconferencing meetings, audio meetings are basically any type of communication that I need to conduct with my coworkers, peers or my customers. One of the things I like best about GoToMeeting is the integration with Microsoft outlook allowing me to schedule my videoconferences with the touch of a button.
Coupled with the right software, this iPad provides the appropriate “real estate” to annotate PDFs, perform software demonstrations and deliver presentations the right way. I have a Wacom tablet that can be used for annotating on-screen but I prefer to use the iPad.
This software provides the link needed to connect my iPad to my PC and project my iPad screen through GoToMeeting. It’s not free but was money well spent to provide the quality video and graphics needed for me to make the best presentation I can.
Another piece of software that bolts into PowerPoint is Poll Everywhere. This software allows me to create PowerPoint presentations that are interactive with my customers in order for them to provide interactive responses, surveys and other data gathering practices through the videoconferencing environment. This works extremely well!
Strange that I included this, but in the videoconferencing world, bandwidth is critical. You’re not going to have successful videoconferences relying upon the broadband connectivity in iPad or telephone; especially when you’re conducting a meeting with over 100 participants. I use a wireless Internet service provider called NextLink located in Weatherford Texas. My 10 Mb up/10 Mb down connectivity is a confirmed rate and has been rock solid to provide me the adequate bandwidth needed to conduct multiple videoconferences. Again this is not free, it’s not cheap but it is a requirement if you want to be successful in the videoconferencing world.
That’s it! A combination of hardware, software, and networking in order to have outstanding videoconferences and not miss having to jump on an airplane and travel to make a presentation. I hope this information helps you.