Tips for People New to Desktop Audio or Video Conferencing

Are you new to using desktop video conferencing (VC) software such as Microsoft Teams, Blackboard Collaborate or Zoom? This guide provides some tips for using desktop VC software, so that you can avoid common new user problems. The screen shots are from the desktop version Microsoft Teams, but the concepts apply to other software in general.

Make a Test Call

A “test call” will allow you to check to see that your speakers and microphone are functioning correctly before you join the meeting. 

  1. In Microsoft Teams, click on your photo or initials in the upper right corner and select Settings.
  2. Choose Devices from the left menu.

    If you have multiple audio and video devices, select the ones you want to use from the chooser.  If you have a headset, it is preferred over the device speakers and microphone.
  3. Press the Make a test call button. It will place a call to the Teams Echo service and you will hear a voice that instructs you to make a sample recording after the beep.  Say something and it will be recorded and then played back to you.
  4. If you do not hear your voice played back, double-check your settings and the hardware connections to your microphone on your PC.

Tips to Avoid Feedback

Feedback usually happens when your microphone picks up delayed sounds from your speaker and sends them to the meeting. Video conferencing software tries to prevent this from occurring, but it does happen.

When there is nobody talking, the system will listen to all hot mics. It may pick up background sounds or static from some microphones and send that noise to all participants.

Here are some tips to avoid feedback and excessive noise from your meetings.

Mute your Microphone

If you are not talking, turn your microphone off by pressing the button that looks like a microphone.  When muted, a slash or X will be shown over or next to the icon, or it will be greyed out.  Remember to turn your microphone on when you want to speak.

If you are the meeting organizer, you can turn off the microphones of all or some of the participants. Open the participants list to see the list of people and use the three dots or links on the right side of the list.

Use a headset if possible

To avoid feedback, use a headset that has earphones and a microphone. This also greatly improves your audio quality when speaking.

Use a quality microphone

A good microphone placed near your mouth is ideal and it will pick up less background noise. If you video conference often, consider using a USB microphone that is directional (if you are one person) or omni-directional (if you are a group of people sharing a laptop, such as in a physical meeting room)

Don’t use your laptop mic if you are a group of people

If you are a small group of people sharing a laptop computer for a meeting, use an omni-directional microphone. The built-in laptop or webcam microphone is designed to only pick up audio from the person directly in front of it.  In some cases, a person on the side or behind of the laptop built-in microphone may not be picked up at all.

Use the chat to share files or text

If you need to share a file or text (like a URL) during a meeting, use the meeting chat to communicate in addition to audio and video.  If you are using teams, shared files and the chat will be saved along with the meeting.

  • If the meeting was done in Chat, scroll through the Recent list and find the meeting. Click on it and you will see the chat, files and recording (if recording was turned on).
  • If the meeting was in a Teams channel, you can find the chat in the channel’s conversation, and the files in the Files tab.

Turn camera off if your Internet connection is poor

If you are having issue with the speed of your Internet connection, and the audio is becoming distorted, turn your video camera off, and/or turn off incoming video if not needed.  The system will automatically try to keep audio quality high, and decrease video resolution, but in some cases, you may need to turn off the video feed yourself.

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Additional Resources

Video: Quick Guide to joining a Microsoft Teams meeting

For more information on using the meetings features of Microsoft Teams, visit:

For information on being a video conference expert user, watch the special curated playlist in LinkedIn Learning.

 

 

 

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Details

Article ID: 101599
Created
Mon 3/16/20 5:13 PM
Modified
Mon 10/4/21 1:15 PM

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