Advantages and disadvantages of video conference

It is the procedure of holding a meeting/video chat over the internet mostly using a webcam where participants can see each other on the screen. In recent days the internet has become fast enough to support the speed and capabilities required for holding a video conference. This has enabled the use of technology in the mainstream industries and the common computer users.

The main advantages of video conferencing are it saves time and cost, is convenient, and provides a virtual feeling of a real meeting. While the disadvantages are that it requires high bandwidth stable internet, members of the meeting being in different time zone, and managing a virtual meeting may be a challenge.

With video conferences, people can communicate with each other in an interactive session as if it is a real one-on-one conversation.

4 requirements for video conferencing

1. The electronic device (computer/smart-phone)

You will require the device to connect to the internet and one that will process both the visual and sound microphone and digital video camera respectively.

2. Video camera/webcam

To be able to capture the video images you will require a video camera, either in-built into your device or you can get an external camera that can be connected to the computer so that it can process information.

3. Fast internet connectivity

To be able to use video conferencing services you require internet connectivity and fast in that case. The internet should be able to support video streaming which will enable video to be transmitted from one location to the next without delay.

4. Microphone/speaker

For audio communication to happen you will require either an internal or external microphone to transmit sound and a speaker to listen to what other participant is saying. Since most devices come with these two in-built it means you may not need to worry about the external.

6 video conference platforms

To be able to combine all these components you will require application software to enable you to make the conference a reality. The main platform includes:

1. Skype

skype video conference2. vbuzzer

vbuzzer video conference

3. TinyChat

tinychat video conference

4. Facetime

For the apple product lovers, this is met for you. It gives you the fabulous design that Apple is known for.

facetime video conference

5. Google Meet

GOOGLE MEET

6. ZOOM

5 application areas of video conferencing

1. E-learning

Most learning institutions are adopting e-learning which can use video conference technology. While the lecturer is in the lecturer room in one location in the world a student can use the technology to connect and attend the lecture whenever they are. Again master/doctorate students can have a supervisor who is in a different location and they can use video conference to communicate.

With Covid 19 even more learning institutions have adopted the use of eLearning to reduce physical contact. There have emerged many more platforms that can be used for eLearning since the Covid 19 pandemic started

2. Friendly chat

Friends can use the technology to recap. A family member can use video conference like Skype and WhatsApp video platform which is free to communicate to their family member where they can have one-on-one communication.

3. Business meeting

Business organizations are saving millions of money on transport, lodging, and other operational costs that are cut down by the use of video conferencing. By using this technology businesses can hold a meeting for all branch managers of the organization from their respective locations which saves time and money. Video conferencing is the next big thing in the business environment in terms of cutting down the cost for higher productivity.

Covid 19 also has disrupted how businesses operate with some employees working from home. This led to the use of video conferences for meetings and updates about the company and clients.

4. Courtroom proceedings (witness testifying)

Courtroom proceeding is another that the technology is used. Judicial officials across the world are adopting the technology by allowing witnesses to give their testimony over the internet by video conferencing. Judges can also attend a proceeding and even make a ruling over the internet using the technology.

5. Medical industries

The technology can be used in the medical field by getting instructions from a specialist who is in a different location from where the operation is. Specialists can give instructions on what a specific delicate operation can be done from far away by use of the technology.

Advantages of video conference

  1. Save money and time

Video conferencing save money by cutting the cost of traveling from one work location to the next to attend the meeting and the lodging cost are also reduced. The time that would have been used while traveling is saved and can be used for productivity in another area.

  1. Convenient

The technology can be used from any location in the world as long as the above facilities for connectivity are available. This makes it convenient since one can attend a meeting from the comfort of their home or even when they are on vacation.

  1. Simplify communication

Technology makes communication to be fast and easy to do for organizations and individuals.

  1. Provide visual information

For family and friend communication, using video gives them a sense of closeness even if they are separated by thousands of miles. This is because they can able to see their children, family member, and friend.

Disadvantages of video conference

  1. High initial cost

For companies that want to install video conference systems the cost of acquiring these systems is high. This applies if a company what to use high-specification devices. Also, the fast internet connectivity can be expensive if it’s met for that purpose only.

  1. Connectivity problem

Internet connectivity sometimes cannot be relied upon and when it is down then the system cannot be used, again if it is slow it may not support the fast speed that is required for video streaming.

  1. Different time zone

For large organizations that have many branches across the world, it means that when one group is in office the other is asleep. For a meeting to be held, one group must be up throughout the night to attend meeting. If it is friends that are communicating it is the same case if they are in different time zone.

  1. Coordination of large group

If the group involved in the meeting is big coordinating the meeting may be hard and those people using handheld gadgets may not be able to see everybody who is attending the meeting.

5. Virtual meeting etiquette

Since online meetings are new and they are not physical some people may not find it prudent to follow the meeting guideline. The attendee should be given the meeting protocols and requirements before the meeting start to ensure a fruitful meeting with minimal interruptions.

What are basic online meeting etiquettes?

Since online meetings are new and are not physical some people may not find it prudent to follow the meeting guideline. Members should be given the meeting protocols and requirements before the meeting start to ensure a fruitful meeting with minimal interruptions.

How to prepare for a productive online meeting?

Have you ever found yourself required to prepare for an online meeting but you don’t even know where to start? You are not alone on this; it can be a tasking issue especially if you have not done it before.

To prepare for an online video conference you can use this checklist to ensure everything is well before the meeting start.

  1. Choose the platform to use.

Currently, there are many platforms that you can choose from as we discussed earlier. The choice of the platform will depend on several issues.

Has the facilitator of the meeting, how well you know how to use the platform?

Other members in the meeting, are they comfortable and familiar with the platform?

Can the platform open from the internet browser or you will need to install it as a separate program? By answering this question you can be able to decide which platform to use.

  1. Schedule the meeting and send the link to members.

Has the organizer of the meeting you will be required to create a link that you send to members on time to ensure they know the day and time of the meeting. Most of the platforms offer a simple click-and-send method of scheduling a meeting.

  1. Choose a co-host and inform them.

A co-host is someone who takes over the meeting in case you are not available online during the meeting. This can be a result of poor internet connection or any other issue that may happen during the meeting.

  1. Ensure your microphone, camera and speaker are working ok.

These are gadgets that will enable communication for audio and visual. You should test to ensure that they are working before the meeting start.

  1. Ensure good internet connection and power supply are available

For power, ensure you use a laptop that is fully charged. If you will be using a desktop ensure you have power backup. Good internet speed is a must for video conferences.

  1. Prepare the room to look presentable.

Ensure the room where you will conduct the meeting has enough lighting and is presentable. Have a somewhere to note down issues raised by members at the meeting.

  1. Set the platform to ensure that when a user enters the meeting their microphone and video are muted.

The video takes a lot of internet bandwidth which can slow down the connection speed if many users use video at the same time.

  1. Prepare material for the meeting.

Prepare material required for meeting such as agenda, and previous minutes for the meeting among others. If you will require to do a presentation ensure you have them and test that they are working.

  1. Identify the best method that you will use to record attendance.

Automatically some platform has a way of recording attendance. If using an internet browser some have plug-ins that can help to record attendance automatically.

Basic rules and etiquette when participating in an online meeting

  1. Always mute your video and audio when you are not using them.

This will reduce distraction sounds coming from different member backgrounds. Sometimes people forget that they are in a meeting and they start doing and saying funny things that should not be heard or seen by other members. By muting audio and video you can avoid embarrassing situations.

  1. Introduction of the presenter to the audience

The meeting organizer should introduce all presenters and if possible on video for other members to have an idea of who is talking. This is especially if the meeting has members who don’t know each other.

  1. Raise your hand when you have a question.

Most platforms have a way of the audience raising their hand (using an emoji) where the presenter can sample who to ask the question.

  1. As a participant test if the platform is working before the meeting starts.

Ensure all is well before the meeting starts. Test the microphone, speaker, and camera. Also, ensure you have the right platform installed on your device.

  1. Check your room condition

Where you will be during the meeting matters. The room should not have background noises and it should also have enough light if you need to use video. Again you don’t what to work from a bedroom or other funny place in case your video camera is left ON by mistake.

  1. Don’t share the screen unless requested to do so by the coordinator of the meeting.

BY sharing the screen you distract the flow of the meeting. Member will tend to focus on your presentation instead of the real content of the meeting.

  1. Meeting recording

If you’re the organizer of the meeting inform the members that you will record the meeting. This detail can also be sent together with the joining link so that when the member joins they already know that meeting will be recorded.