In our last blog post we discussed some important tips to ensure your video conference runs smoothly and effectively. We have compiled a few more fun facts, tips and interesting points about video conferencing for you to mull over and enjoy. For more information about subjects such as these visit our website.
“Video conferencing is a marvellous means of improving corporate communication, if it is used well. Video conferencing is dramatically cost effective, when groups of staff from distant locations are able to use the medium to plan, take decisions, and solve problems.”
John Mitchell, Australian Videoconferencing Summit, 1997.
Video conferencing has become an increasingly attractive alternative to time-consuming and expensive travel. The technology has become cheaper, more robust, easier to use. Broadband is becoming more widely available. More people are teleworking. PC/Web-based video conferencing has certainly developed – and diminishing travel budgets make it even more appealing.
“Video conferencing has shifted from being a tool used by Fortune 500 executives sitting in a boardroom to being a viable work-group and collaboration tool. People are not only sharing information but also graphics, and doing collaborative white-boarding. It used to be a corporate luxury but today, with less-expensive equipment options and the plummeting cost of PCs, which form the core of some standalone video conferencing units, it is a workable option for many smaller organisations shaken by the impact of September 11 on cross country air travel.”
Anne King, DataFront
Here’s an idea
1. Why not make Net Conferencing a regular feature of your communication? Internet conferencing can be the cheapest, fastest, and most flexible type of meeting. Participants merely have to log on to the provider’s Web site to share a document for simultaneous discussion. Share your presentations with hundreds of participants while they listen to you on an accompanying conference call. The addition of digital cameras can add video conferencing capability.
2. Video conferencing minimises the disadvantages of location. Begin exploring the possibilities for your organis-ation: to interview candidates, evaluate at a distance, deliver a speech to a larger audience, engage in small group discussions, discuss strategy, share ideas and materials, hold meetings, launch a project, deliver training…
- Clarify what is to happen if the connection breaks?
- Given that you can’t see everyone, and it’s easy to forget who is present, draw for yourself a diagram showing the names of those present at each location and put it in front of you. If it helps, draw it out as if the participants were sitting around a conference table with you.
- Have a predetermined procedure for asking, acknowledging and dealing with questions, or for voting procedures.
- Never interrupt a speaker.
- Don’t shift or move about in your chair or tap pencils on the table etc. The telephone will pick it up as distracting background noise.
- Don’t hold side conversations, unless you use the mute button at your end before doing so.
- If people don’t know you well (and your voice), state your name when you begin speaking.
- Allow pauses between speakers. A single word overlapping another speaker causes a delay while the last remark is repeated. Teleconferences have their own particular rhythms which are easily picked up with a little practice.
- Use the names of others. Say to whom your remark is addressed or in response to; and who you may like to respond next if appropriate. If you haven’t spoken for some time, you may need to say your name before speaking.
- Ask participants to use large name tags if they don’t know each other.
- Before you begin, introduce everyone if necessary and provide a bit of background information so that everyone knows how the other members can potentially contribute.
- Clarify people’s roles: who will operate the camera? What will happen if the connection breaks?
- Never interrupt a speaker.
- Don’t shift and move about etc.
- Don’t lean into the camera, towards listeners; this will look too aggressive.
- Keep reasonably still and refrain from hand gestures to avoid creating distractions. Use slower and smaller movements than you would in normal face-to-face conversations.
- Have a predetermined procedure for asking, acknowledging and dealing with questions.
- Remember: people can see you even if you aren’t the one talking. Mind your body language.
- If you need to have a side discussion, use the mute button to avoid the microphone picking you up and the camera re-focusing on you.
- Make sure everyone is visible. Hidden bodies with something to say, or disembodied hands swimming into shot, are distracting.
Videoconferencing facilities that can be used for the delivery of professional development and training programs or general meetings, either directly into place of work, if they have their own equipment, or into a videoconferencing site located near a place of work.
A major benefit of videoconferencing is that it is more flexible and less expensive than either travel to sessions or having a specialist person physically attend their location. Follow-up sessions are also easier.
What is Videoconferencing?
Videoconferencing is a communications technology that enables people in different locations to see and hear each other, like two-way television. In addition, it is possible to connect document cameras, wireless cameras, computers and VCRs to the videoconference unit for additional inputs.
A basic videoconference system includes a camera, a codec (coder-decoder) and a television monitor. Some videoconference systems operate through the computer (desk-top systems), but these may have some limitations. Larger ‘room’ systems are more expensive but provide better results. A videoconferencing site, at present, usually requires special telephone lines (ISDN service) to be installed, and specialist advice is required for this.
What will a PD workshop cost?
The cost of a videoconference workshop cannot be calculated until all the elements have been identified. For example, if a single site is involved for a three-hour workshop, with material and a one hour videoconference link-up, as indicated in the model below, then the cost could be in the area of $650 – $1000. However, the number of links, the number of sites, the length of the links, bridging services, external sites hire fees and the specialist’s fees will vary and need to be calculated when all the details are defined.
The cost of a PD videoconference may include the following components:
- Site fee or room charges at each location
- Call charge (calculated by distance, time on line and bandwidth being used for each of the sites)
- Expert fee for preparation (by the hour)
- Expert fee for presentation (by the hour)
- Bridging service (if three or more sites are to be linked)
- Printing, postage, telephone, and other materials production costs
- Other costs
- Provider levy, e.g. 25%
How will the workshop or seminar by videoconference be organised?
This will depend on what is negotiated between the client and the expert presenter. One model that has been used successfully involves five parts:
- Part 1: Materials (print, video, videostreaming, online) relevant to the topic are provided to participants in advance. This will also include a recommended ‘agenda’ for the live videoconference link.
- Part 2: Participants meet for three hours, and the first of these is for local discussion of the topic, formulating questions, etc.
- Part 3: That first hour is followed by a live videoconference link to the specialist(s) conducting the workshop, for about one hour, and this is devoted to a high level of interaction, including questions and answers, demonstrations, etc.
- Part 4: The third hour is devoted to local debriefing, evaluation and making individual and group commitments to action.
- Part 5: Follow up with the specialist may be done via email, online discussion forum, an audio conference, or another videoconference, if required.
Acknowledgement: Queensland University of Technology
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