September 20, 2022

Article
5 min

Everything You Need to Know About Video Conferencing

Find the best video conferencing solutions for your organization at CDW. Our comprehensive solutions include conferencing software, hardware and equipment.

CDW Expert

Person chatting on a video call while sitting on a wooden table inside a modern residential space.

Video conferencing has been a feature of Canadian corporate life for many years, but it was not until the COVID-19 pandemic that video conference solutions became ubiquitous. Video conferencing is now an integral part of business life and is used for one-on-one meetings, group meetings and corporate presentations. It's also common in many other spheres, including education, health and government. 

While it's feasible to use free, off-the-shelf solutions for simple video calling, in order to fully benefit from video conferencing, it’s best to invest in comprehensive conferencing and collaboration software and select appropriate video conferencing hardware. This way, you'll be able to overcome the limitations of consumer video calling solutions, improve workforce collaboration and facilitate hybrid work.

Hybrid Work Is Here to Stay

Canadians embraced remote working during the pandemic. It allowed people to better manage their work/life balance, improve productivity and reduce commuting costs. Businesses have recognized this, and while now they're encouraging employees to come back to the office, most accept that hybrid working, where employees work remotely for part of the week, is here to stay. 

Types of Video Conferencing

As with face-to-face meetings, there are different video conferences. These include:

One-on-one video meetings: Replacing a physical meeting or phone call, video calls improve caller interaction and offer similar benefits as a face-to-face meeting.

Team meetings: Involving small, local and remote teams for planned and ad hoc team meetings that keep everyone involved and focused.

External video calls: Replacing physical meetings with customers and vendors saves time while offering the benefits of improved interaction.

Large meetings: Video conferencing solutions facilitate remote board and corporate meetings, allowing distant participants to fully participate.

Conferences and webinars: Although these look like large meetings, conferences and webinars often limit audience participation to instant messaging and question times, allowing speakers to control meetings. 

General Video Conferencing Requirements

The software and hardware used for the video conference system must provide for effective interaction and engagement. This includes many facets, such as:

  • Video quality
  • Audio quality
  • Bandwidth
  • Ease of use
  • Collaboration

You need all these elements for a successful and constructive meeting. Concerns such as difficulty joining a meeting, poor video quality and overly quiet or distorted audio can disrupt meetings and limit constructive engagement. 

Video Conferencing Software and Solutions

A good starting point is an appropriate video conferencing software solution. While requiring some upfront investment, vendor-supplied video conferencing software solutions provide better audio and video quality and facilitate easier collaboration. Web conference solutions typically incorporate tools that allow administrators to organize and manage video calls. These include:

  • Electronic whiteboards
  • Chat tools
  • File sharing
  • Collaboration
  • Screen sharing
  • Application integration
  • Session recording

Video Conferencing Equipment and Hardware

Although desktop to desktop conferencing may suffice for one-on-one meetings, anything involving more than two participants works better with an appropriate hardware-based video conferencing system.

Video Conference Systems

A video conference system is a modular video conference controller for managing sessions. Examples include Cisco® WebEx® conferencing kits. Features include integrated cameras with an intelligent view that frame and track speakers, together with facial recognition and participant identification capabilities. The Logitech® video conferencing system is slightly different in that the kits comprise compatible video and equipment managed by a small table hub. In both instances, solutions exist for small ad hoc meeting rooms and larger static meeting rooms. Another solution is the Lenovo® ThinkSmart™ which incorporates a hub and video capture device for small meetings.

Camera Systems

Good video quality is a prerequisite for successful video conferencing. This generally means a high-definition camera (1080p), while UHD (4K) cameras are best for large screens. Points to consider are definition, colour rendition, low noise and dynamic range. Smart video cameras allow natural participation because they can lock onto speakers while also giving a complete view of the meeting room. Most video conferencing systems automatically manage bandwidth using efficient coding methods. Camera options include Cisco Webex desk cameras, HD cams built into video conferencing hardware, third-party Huddly GO conference cameras and Logitech webcams.

Audio Systems

No matter what type of video conference device you're using, you need a good, clear video conferencing audio system. Depending on the location and its size, different options might be suitable. It's best if each participant has a headset. Using a headset will ensure high-quality audio with no risk of the feedback you might get from a microphone and speakers. A headset also limits the amount of background noise projected into the video, which makes it easier for everyone to hear what you’re saying. Video conferencing headsets are available in both wired and wireless configurations from a variety of popular brands including Jabra, Logitech, Poly and Cisco.

Another option is to use a microphone or nearby communal microphone and speakers. However, acoustic design and furnishing of meeting rooms may affect audio quality. Consider using noise-canceling microphones that reduce outside noise. In crucial situations, you may need professional advice on microphone selection and placement. Other things to keep in mind include speaker placement.

Displays

While desktop displays generally suffice for one-on-one meetings, wall-mounted displays are best for group and larger meetings. A wide display promotes a feeling of togetherness. Points to consider include:

  • Wide viewing angle
  • High-resolution display
  • Display brightness

With hybrid working becoming a normal part of Canadian business life, it's vital to carefully consider and evaluate video conferencing options to establish the right system for your needs. Your CDW account manager can help you evaluate video conference solutions and assist with equipment selection and commissioning.