How to Improve Video Quality for Conference Calls

It’s one thing for a movie to buffer at the worst part possible. It’s another for your face to get stuck awkwardly in the middle of an important meeting in front of coworkers and bosses. 

This was the sad reality for many people as they navigated the change from their offices to working from home. Suddenly, not only were most people expected to shift everything from an office to a makeshift home office, but video quality became an important aspect of daily lives and something that affected the functionality of new work setups. 

Even though having a great camera might help the situation, there are other simple adjustments you can make to improve video quality during those dreaded conference calls with the office. 

This is an instance in which the type of Internet connection that you use at home becomes key to the entire process, because if your bandwidth is not strong enough to sustain multiple devices it is possible you’ll have to reconsider your Internet plan or bundle. 

Some of the key aspects of a video conference call that you will have to focus on in order to improve are:

  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Sound Quality
  • Understanding Display Options
  • Avoiding Feedback
  • Having a Backup Plan

Though your first reaction to bad video quality might be frustration, it is important to remain calm. With computers, there is a solution for almost everything. 

What Is Video Conferencing?

First things first, what is video conferencing? Is FaceTime an example?

A video conference basically refers to a live audio-video stream of a conversation. Think of it as a type of online meeting in which you can see the person through your personal screen, whether it’s through a phone or computer. 

Depending on how strong your Internet connection is while engaging in a video call, you will be able to talk, listen, and see the person on the other side of your screen.

So, yes, FaceTime is a form of video conferencing. 

Technically, despite the term “conference” as part of the title, a video conference is not specifically tied to a work setting, though that is probably one of the most common forms of communication for work, along with email. 

You could have a video conference with family members or friends. The end goals are the same—to see the other person while talking to them.

However, for work, video conferencing is most commonly used to collaborate and communicate outside of the office. It’s convenient and users don’t need a lot of hardware to communicate through the computer. As long as the Internet connection is strong, then the video quality should be decent.

Wi-Fi Connectivity: What Is the Best Speed?

When it comes to how efficient your Internet is, consider the speed it needs to accomplish everything you need from it.  

Internet productivity heavily relies on the amount of energy it takes for it to complete certain tasks. For example, if you want to have a lot of devices connected to your home Wi-Fi, you will need a certain amount of Mbps for everyone to connect happily with no problems. 

The same thing applies to the Wi-Fi speed you need for the best video quality possible. The higher the count of Mbps, the better. 

Technically, you only need between 1.5 to 2Mbps for video conferencing. However, keep in mind the amount of devices connected to the home Wi-Fi, along with the amount of streaming, gaming, browsing, and downloading and uploading. 

Anything that’s more than 24Mbps is pretty fast. You’ll want to look for Internet bundles and plans that can offer a minimum of 25Mbps so that you don’t have to worry about the quality of the Internet affecting your calls. 

The other reason having a strong Internet connection is important is to avoid latency issues. Latency refers to the connection between video and voice. When your Internet connection is slow, the video does not sync with your voice and it will distort the video conference communication. 

A good way to determine whether latency is likely to happen with your Internet connection is to test the speed that your Internet is currently working at. Websites like speedtest.net can help you figure out what you’re working with and see if it’s time to adjust your Internet plan based on your needs. 

How to Improve Sound Quality

Along with latency issues, sound quality is one of the most common complaints users have about video conference calls. 

Video conferencing is tricky because, if you have multiple people connected during the call, then the issues with the sound quality can range from everyone talking at once, to background noises, to no one being able to hear you. 

Here’s what you can do:

  • Mute Options
    If you’re in a video call that has multiple people in it, it is in your best interest to encourage everyone to mute their microphones when they are not talking. Remember that not everyone might have great Internet connection or they might take the call in a place where there’s a lot of noise. Muting mics allows the video conference to flow better and keep the sound more manageable.
  • Wear Headphones
    Most headphones nowadays are equipped with built-in microphones. This is the best and easiest way to improve sound quality. You will hear everyone better and you will sound better through their speakers or headphones. They’re also useful in filtering background noise and reducing sound issues.
  • Utilize Chat
    Along with muting your mic when not actively taking part in the conversation and wearing headphones, when all else fails with sound and latency issues, always use the chat option. This is great for maintaining participation in the conversation without interrupting someone mid-sentence. You also have the option to message the group or individuals. 

Understanding Display Options

The display options on your video conference call can do a lot to improve the quality of the video. Yet, they’re the reason users feel the most intimidated when partaking in video conference calls.

All those little buttons along your screen can do a lot to improve the quality and experience of the video conference. For example, if you know you have a strong Internet connection for your call, one great way to improve the quality of the video is by enabling the HD option. 

If you’re the host of the meeting, you can actually enable the HD feature for everyone in the call, which will improve quality and connectivity.

Other display options include being able to change your background or display name. But those won’t really affect the quality of the video conference itself. They’ll just make you look cooler. 

How to Avoid Feedback During a Video Call

When talking about feedback during a video call, it is referring to those echo sounds you might hear every time someone talks. They mostly happen because the speaker and the microphone are too close together, which creates the feeling of talking inside of a canyon.

Feedback is also common because if you’re not using headphones or a microphone that is not built into your computer, then you’ll start hearing yourself through the call with a slight delay. 

If your job requires you to be on constant video calls, it is best to invest in bluetooth headphones with built-in microphones—even gaming headphones will do if you have those around. They will connect easily and help avoid any feedback during the call. 

Have a Backup Plan

If all fails, always have a backup plan. 

  • If your video quality is poor, remember you can always switch to audio only. Though it might defeat the purpose of having a video call in the first place, at least you’ll still be able to partake in the call and be able to communicate and collaborate with other coworkers. 
  • If your computer is not cooperating, always have your smartphone near you. All video-conferencing tools have an app version that you can download into your phone. With a video emergency, you can always try to rejoin the meeting through your phone or tablet without skipping a beat.
  • If your battery is running low, always have a charger (maybe even a second charger) near you. Video calls take up a lot of battery power from your laptop or tablet. It’s important to always have a charger near you in case your computer eats up all the battery in one call.
  • If your Wi-Fi is giving you trouble, make sure you’re near a wired connection. Trust in the fact that you have an ethernet cable around the house somewhere. It might not be a bad idea to have that near the office so that you can always connect manually to the Internet in case the Wi-Fi has a sick day. 

And most importantly, don’t panic. It might be a little embarrassing, even frustrating, to not have the best video quality during a call. Just remember you’re not alone. Chances are that everyone else in the call is also dealing with the same issues. Don’t worry, everything is fixable.