9 steps for improving the quality of video calls
1) internet Quality
Regardless of the device, call quality is totally dependent on the quality of the Internet. If you’re using a desktop or laptop then using a wired connection may give a more stable connection than WiFi. If you have to use Wi-Fi, make sure your device is close to your router to ensure a good signal and reduced interference. If you have the choice of 2.4GHz or 5GHz then choose 5GHz as the bandwidth is likely to be higher, there are more available channels and less sources of interference such as cordless phones, microwave ovens, etc. If possible you may want to shut down Internet connections on other devices that may unknowingly be sapping your bandwidth. You may also want to shut down other software and well as any webpages to ensure all the resources of your machine are available.
2) Choice of camera
The built-in camera that’s in your PC or laptop will be adequate for basic video calling but are generally not particularly high resolution. If you are fussy then there are a couple of other options such as adding a standalone webcam which can have resolutions of up to 4K or connect up a standard DSLR camera. The DSLR option is a bit more complicated, but will give you a lot of control over the picture quality.
Remember to give the camera lens a gentle wipe with a soft cloth to remove dust or smudges that could degrade the picture quality.
Consider the lighting in your room. Natural or artificial is fine since the camera will adjust for it but make sure it is not directly behind you or the camera will expose for that and you will just be a silhouette so be sure to have the main light source falling onto your face to bring out your features. If the room is dark then the camera will struggle and you will end up with a noisy (grainy) washed out picture.
If your room has no natural light or it’s dark outside then experiment with ceiling lights and any lamps that you have. If direct lighting seems too harsh, try diffusing it or pointing it away from you. A range of USB lights are available designed especially for video calls, so it’s relatively easy to find a light that’s ideal for your workspace, no matter where it is.
4) Camera angle
The best place for the camera is at eye level either right in front of you or just off centre. A high angle may be flattering but for the folic-ally challenged amongst us you may get reflections off the top of the head. A low angle results in an excellent view of the nostrils – not very flattering.
A good mount that keeps the camera free from vibration is desirable. If you’re calling from a smartphone or tablet then definitely use it in landscape, especially if you know that most people in the call are using a PC. Again, try to secure the device, or rest it on something stable so it doesn’t vibrate and make it look like you are experiencing an earthquake.
5) Fine-tune your microphone
Check where the microphone is located on your device and make sure there’s nothing blocking or obscuring it, such as an add-on privacy shutter, to ensure the other participants in your chat will be able to hear you clearly without having to turn the volume up when you are speaking.
Assess the acoustics of the room you’re in. If it’s quite small with lots of hard surfaces that cause your voice to echo even a little bit, then it will sound like you are in a bathroom at the other end. Microphone placement can make all the difference otherwise covering hard surfaces with sheets or blankets can help dampen the acoustics and eliminate any echo.
An external microphone can improve things considerably because you have much more flexibility in placement and the option of different pickup patterns. Try an get it as close to your mouth as possible while still out of frame.
6) Grab a pair of earbuds
Just as for the camera, your device’s built-in speakers will do the job well in most cases, but to reduce the chance of echo or feedback from your microphone picking up the sound from your speakers consider using a pair earphones to give yourself the best chance of catching everything that’s said during a video chat. Some video call platforms use echo cancelation but that can also affect the speech – chopping off syllables..
7) Clean up!
Consider your background. Of course, if you’re just chatting with friends and family, you might not care about the pile of laundry stacked up behind you. But if the call is work-related, you’ll probably want to present a more respectable scene. Also, many of today’s videoconferencing software and chat apps include virtual backgrounds that you can drop in if you’d prefer to hide your surroundings. Often you can also add your own.
8) Quiet space
If you’re living with others, try to call from a room where they won’t be able to disturb you — unless you want to risk becoming globally famous in the way that South Korea-based reporter Robert Kelly did after a calamitous BBC interview in 2017. For sure, if you have kids, keeping them out of the room may be a challenge, and you’ll just have to roll with it if they suddenly burst in. But if you’re living with housemates or adult family members, it’s best to let them know you’re about to make a video call to avoid any potentially awkward or embarrassing mishaps while you’re engaged.
9)Know your software
There are numerous chat platforms on the market today. You might use several different ones with friends and family, and yet another one with work colleagues. Whatever the case, spend some time getting to know the various settings and options that each one has to offer. Most platforms come with a range of features that can help to ensure your video and audio are as good as they can be, and getting the settings right can noticeably enhance the quality of a call.
We are able to assist with personal and video conferencing hardware. If there are any questions, please contact us.