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What is Video Conferencing

Businesses and companies have been talking about video conferencing for years now, but not everyone is familiar with the ins and outs of it. So we’re taking a look beyond video conferencing cameras and webcams to give you all the information that you need if you’re setting off on your video conferencing journey.

So What is Video Conferencing?

In spite of its name, video conferencing isn’t the sole domain of large scale conference events where people attend and watch remotely. Video conferencing is a catch-all term for any meeting taking place between two or more remote participants, communicating with audio and video over the internet. 

By this definition, even the Facetime call with your mum last week was a video conference call, so perhaps it doesn’t have to be as uninspiring as you thought.

JPL Agora USB video conferencing camera

What is a Video Conference Device?

Small USB webcam

If you’re new to the world of video conferencing, you may well be left asking “what is a video conferencing device?”. In truth, any device which is capable of video, audio and running the appropriate software can be classed as a video conference device, including your smartphone.

Of course, it’s never that simple and most of us don’t use mobiles for business meetings. So smartphones aside, in addition to a computer to run any video conferencing software that you use, the basic equipment you need to setup and run a video conference is:

  • A camera
  • A microphone
  • A speaker

This all sounds pretty obvious and you might think that because your company laptops have all three of these things, that you’re set to go. While this is true the devil is in the detail, as many in-built video conferencing devices are of a quality which leaves much to be desired.

Video Conferencing Cameras

As we’ve discussed previously, the small cameras included on many laptops can be great for quick video conference calls between colleagues, but for anything more purposeful the quality of the image just isn’t good enough.

A standalone video conference camera can make a huge difference, not only to the quality of video, but also the quality of meeting as participants aren’t straining to see others on the video call. This is especially true in meeting rooms where a wide field of view will help to capture the whole room.

Video Call Sound Not to be Ignored

JPL Convey Speakerphone

Though many people focus on the picture quality of a video call, the quality of the audio shouldn’t be ignored either. Investing in high quality video conferencing headsets or a video conferencing bar with integrated microphones will help remove background noise and the annoying interference caused by cheap headphones.

The same is also true of audio output, you need to be able to hear others on the call and this is again where a video conference bar comes into its own, with in built speakers. Of course the other option is to use a standalone speakerphone which can do a great job too.

So when it comes to understanding what a video conference device is, you have lots of options to suit your needs, from standalone items to ones with everything built in, making setup much easier.

Features & Benefits of Video Conferencing

For many, video calling became a default communication method borne out of necessity rather than any particular pre-existing business need during the Covid pandemic and resultant requirements to work from home.

Prior to the need to embed video calling into our companies, the majority of firms had never considered remote working, perhaps due to not being aware of the features and benefits that video communication can bring to a business.

Features of Video Conferencing

If you’re looking for a definitive list of video conferencing features, you might struggle to find a complete list of every single feature. This is mainly due to video call features being specific to your chosen communications platform such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom or RingCentral.

While these and other platforms have their differences, there are also a lot of similar features between them and below we’ve captured some of the more common features to highlight the core advantages that a good video conferencing application can provide.

4 people on a video conference call in a small meeting room

Communicate with large groups

Video conferencing software allows you to communicate and interact with large groups of people, instantly. This opens up huge possibilities for businesses to speak to large groups of staff or customers at once, where previously this might have been impractical.

Screen sharing

We’ve all been on an audio only conference all reviewing a document, relying on someone telling us the page number, or to look at a specific point on a page. Screen sharing means the presenter can show you exactly what they mean.

Speaker captions

Perhaps a lesser known feature, but many video conference platforms now provide automatic captions for the end users. This is a superb feature for users with hearing difficulties as they can see what is being said, just like subtitles on a TV program.

Quick and easy file sharing

Distributing a file to meeting attendees used to mean sending an email after a meeting, finding all the attendee email addresses and so forth. Most video conferencing applications let you share files in their chat feature to all participants, immediately.

Active speaker highlight

Unsure who’s speaking? Active speaker highlight places a frame around the video of the person speaking so you know who’s talking.

Other video conferencing features

As we mentioned earlier there are far too many video conferencing features to list here, but other common features include:

  • Displaying the name of the speaker
  • Turn video feed off/on
  • Mute audio
  • Disable incoming video (great if you have slow internet)
  • Hide/replace your background

Video Conferencing Benefits

The use of video conferencing has also opened up a host of benefits to businesses, some are obvious, others less so but they have the potential to not only help a business grow, but also save money.

Supports remote working

Whether you believe in remote, a hybrid model or full time office based working, having a remote working capability is a huge benefit. There’s always a time when good communication is needed away from the office and video conferencing supports this.

Staff recruitment and retention

New ways of working adopted in the pandemic have become the status quo for many workers. Offering a remote or hybrid role can help retain staff who might leave if asked to work full time in the office, equally, remote and hybrid working can also mean your talent pool widens as staff are more willing to commute further but fewer times per week.

Reduced travel expenses

Video conferencing allows remote meetings to feel that bit more personal compared to an audio conference call. This can mean travel to face to face meetings could be reduced, saving money on travel expenses as we recently discussed in another article.

Reduced reliance on physical spaces

If your teams are all meeting online and working remotely through video conferencing, why do you need so many meeting rooms or such a big office? Reducing office space can save you money not just on rent, but other associated costs too.

Better collaboration

If people can communicate more effectively, they can collaborate more effectively too. Ideas are easier to share and work on, they come to market sooner and can drive growth sooner as a result.

If you Have More Questions About What Video Conferencing is, Speak to Our Team.

Navigating through new technology and platforms can be complicated and daunting, our experienced telecoms team are here to help though and will be able to answer any questions you might have on what video conferencing is and how to get the right setup for your environment.

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