September 20, 2022
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.
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
- Ease of use
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.