Video Call Tips, Best Practices, and Quick Troubleshooting

Want to improve your video calls? Check out our collection of tips, best practices, and quick and easy troubleshooting steps for some of the most common problems.

No matter what video conferencing app you use, there are some universal ways to make your calls better. We have compiled a list of tips for best practices and easy troubleshooting so you can make the most of these calls with less time saying “can you hear me?” Use this guide to improve call quality, gain better understanding of your application’s features, and be more considerate both to your call guests and to those working in the same room as you. 

General video call tips

Let’s start off with a few basics to improve the effectiveness of your calls.

  • Mute your mic when you’re not talking
    • When setting up a meeting for several people, check if there is an option for muting participants upon entry. Teams will automatically do it to new participants after the 4th person.
  • Reduce background noise by using a headset
    • This is courteous to your chat guests as well as other people in your home also trying to work.
  • Position yourself to get better lighting
    • Avoid using a window as a backdrop
    • Use a light behind your camera if needed
  • Position yourself with a neutral background or use a virtual background if needed.
    • Many apps like Zoom and Teams have background effects built in, or you can get a third party camera application like Snap Camera.
  • Sign in early if it’s your first time
    • Be prepared to run updates
    • Take time to test your audio before joining
This captioned gif taken from our Zoom best practices video.

Network and connectivity tips and improvements

Your video and audio quality will be heavily dependent on your network and internet connection. While there are a lot of changes to make to your home network, some can be involved and/or cost money. Here are a few quick changes you can make right now to see a big improvement.

  • Connect to your home network with a network cable instead of Wi-Fi if possible.
    • If needed look into Quality of service prioritization. Get information from your Router’s manufacturer for details.
  • Limit bandwidth-intensive service usage while you’re working (such as Netflix, VPN, etc.)
    • You may need to schedule important calls or streaming with other members of your household to ensure only one bandwidth intensive program is running at once.
  • Connect outside of Remote desktop services only
    • Exit out of remote desktop services (RDP, LogMeIn, etc.) and access the video call with your local device
  • Adjust bandwidth setting from within the app
    • Many apps have this under either video settings or network/bandwidth settings. For example, Google hangouts has the ability to go to HD but if your bandwidth isn’t the best, you’ll get better video (less lag issues) with the reduced video quality.
Your router may look different, but plugging in an ethernet cable should look similar.

Troubleshooting sound issues

One of the most common complaints we receive from people using video conferencing is either they can hear the participants or the participants can’t hear them. The below isn’t an exhaustive list of how to troubleshoot these issue, but merely a few common causes to try to rectify.

  • Test your sound before entering the call. Most apps will have the ability to do this before clicking join.
  • Check your sound output in the app’s audio settings and on your computer settings (right click the speaker icon). Make sure it is going to your preferred headset/speakers.
    • Often times people will accidentally or previously have selected phone audio to call into a Zoom call or other video call. Usually, what you want instead is “use computer audio”.
  • Do the above for your mic. Check your audio input settings in the app under audio settings and on your computer audio settings
  • Un-plug your headset and plug back in. Sometimes this just works. (The cliche turn it off and on again.)
  • When sharing your screen, most programs will not also share your computer by default. If sharing a video or something else with sounds you have to select share my computer audio before sharing your screen. The picture below shows the locations on Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Teams’ system audio check box is at the top of the share window.
Zoom’s share computer sound check box is located at the bottom of the share window.

Video issues and add-ons

Issues with video tend to be less common, but there are a few things to try. There are also a lot of add-ons to improve your video experience and/or have a little fun with it.

  • If experiencing video issues, check your video input. This is less likely to be a problem than audio input as on a laptop you normally only use one, but if you use an external web cam or a camera application such as Snap Cam, there is a greater possibility for your computer to use the incorrect input.
    • A lot of times, it is difficult to switch cameras while already in a call (theoretically it should work, but we’ve received a lot of incoming issues to the contrary). Close out of the video call and the video call application, open it back up and change your video input before joining the meeting.
    • Don’t get stuck as a potato.
  • Change from the default view to better suit your meeting needs
    • Zoom and Google defaults to a type of speaker view. This generally detects who is talking and makes them the main focus and the biggest video with everyone else as littler video feeds to the side or below.
      • Zoom- click the tile button to switch from active speaker to gallery and back. Gallery allows you to see all guests equally (up to 25, but if you exceed that there is an arrow for another page.)
      • Google – click on one persons video feed at the bottom to keep the focus on that person. Click again to change back to automated speaker view.
      • Teams – click on one person’s video feed to pin it or right click for more options.
    • In Zoom, you can also hide participants with no video to make more space in your gallery. Click the options dot dot dot next to a person’s window with no video for this option.
Up at the top, you can toggle from speaker view to gallery view.
  • Snap camera – I keep mentioning it so I might as well talk about it
    • This is from the maker’s of Snapchat
    • It becomes a filter for your webcam. Your computer recognizes it as a different computer input
    • Generally not recommended for work. You may get stuck in that filter.
      • (I didn’t get stuck as a potato, but I did get stuck with a makeup filter on. Yes, I looked pretty.)
    • Its an easy download, but buyer beware. If something is free, you are the product and you will grant some access to data.
  • Clean your camera.
    • When was the last time you did this? Wipe it down for a better image output to your other video call participants.
  • For any issues, if needed, reboot your computer. (This takes time so hopefully you signed in early as previously suggested.)
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”

When working remotely, it’s best to follow best practices no matter what platform you are using.

Want more specific information about video calls? We have guides on using Microsoft Teams for video conferencing, instruction, and more. Check out the basics of using Google Hangouts for video chats, as well as Zoom best practices and Quick Start guide.

Valiant Technology is the award-winning managed service provider to innovative industries in New York.

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