Desktop Videoconference: what do you need?


There are many software you can use to make a videoconference. I won’t get into the debate of which one to use, as I work for the company that invented H323 – that won’t be objective.

What I want to discuss here is which tools you actually need to make a professional videoconference meeting. First and foremost, you need a camera, speaker and microphone. But that’s not enough, because you need also lighting and environment.

If you work in an office, that’s not difficult, but things get complicated when you’re at home. In any case the principles are the same.

Environment

  • Find some neutral backdrop, either 50% grey or light blue (that will help the white balance)
  • If the room is big, keep in mind that curtains could help reduce echo and screen from direct light
  • Avoid backlight at all costs
  • Avoid patterns as well, moiré effect could be a pain to watch
  • Keep you mic away from fans and noisy stuff
  • In your office, ask for professional lights, at home you can always go for low consumption bulbs (both with color temperature in 3200K – 4000K range)

Equipment

  • Don’t be cheap, buy a good webcam like the Creative Labs LiveCam inPerson HD or the Facevision Touchcam E1
  • Same story for headset, but here you need to find the most comfortable for your ears. I’m a big fan of Plantronics, but any Microsoft headset will do good.
  • You can use your webcam microphone (both models above have excellent microphones), but in that case you need to use proper speakers (placing them on each side of the screen is ok).
  • Try to have a decent sized screen, 20″ to 24″.

Position

  • Try to stay around 80-100 cm from the camera.
  • Position the webcam on top of your screen
  • Keep the screen center at eye level, to roughly ensure that when you look at the screen you almost look in camera. Maintaining eye to eye contact is important to avoid a wrong interest perception by the other party:

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