Video conferencing notes and guidance

If you are new to video conferencing then there are any number of applications in the market including:

  • Microsoft’s:
    • Skype
    • Meet
    • Teams
  • Apple Facetime
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Google Hangouts
  • Zoom

Our web site provides a free video conferencing facility via each group's page, so go along and have a look and set up your first group meeting.

What do you require to join in a video conference?

  • a Computer PC, Laptop, Tablet or phone, a larger screen has its advantages.
  • speakers (external or internal) or headphones
  • a microphone
  • a decent internet connection with a good data allowance.

The following notes help you join and participate in a Zoom meeting. Having read them, click here if you are interested in hosting your own Zoom meeting.

Participate in a Zoom meeting

The key to successful video conferencing is to ensure that you follow some simple rules:

  • Make sure that your face has the light shining on it by facing windows, or a table light, otherwise you will look dark to others in the meeting on their screen. You should be able to see yourself in your mini view screen and then adjust the lighting.
  • Make sure that you position the camera of your PC, laptop, tablet, phone so gives a head and shoulders view of you. This has the advantage that you will be close enough to the camera and microphone so that other users will see and hear you.
  • Should there be a large number of participants in the video conference (meeting), Mute your microphone and, when you wish to speak, hold your hand up or use the chat feature to send a message to the host (or others in the call). If everyone speaks at the same time no one will be heard. The host can also mute everyone to prevent interruptions.

Test your computer

To ensure that your computer equipment is OK for video conferencing you need to check it is configured correctly. Use to do this. When you are on the Test page just follow the instructions. There are tests to configure your microphone, speakers and video.

Below is a brief description of the icons you will see on the test and normal screens. When you move your mouse pointer over the screen you will see menus appear either along the bottom or top of the screen.

These are the icons you should see: (There are couple of other icon that the Host will see)...

Click/tap this icon to mute and unmute yourself. If you have a keyboard, you can also hold the space bar down to temporarily un-mute yourself. When someone speaks their screen will have a yellow border around it, because they have the ‘focus’.

Click/tap this icon to allow/disallow people to see you via your camera.

Click/tap on ‘Participants’ to list the names of people in the meeting. If you want to change your name (Zoom can give you the 'name' of your computer as a default). mouse over/tap your entry to see a 'More' icon; click/tap it to see a 'Rename' option.

This icon allows you to send a message to ‘everyone’, or one person in the meeting by selecting them. Consider sending questions to the speaker or host rather than everyone so they can see it and answer accordingly.

The Host can also ‘Record’ the meeting so that it could be shown to others at a later stage.

The host and and any participant (if allowed by the host), can share views from their device. For example, a presenter can share images or a PowerPoint presentation to attendees.

There are other more advanced features in the Zoom application, which I will leave you to explore.

Now that you have tested your computer you are ready to go.

Join a Zoom Meeting

To join a meeting without downloading the Zoom application you need a link you can click on from an email or notice invitation.

This is an example email notification sent from Zoom that shows a typical meeting link:

Fred Bloggs is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Tuesday School presentation

Time: Jan 12, 2021 09:15 London

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 838 0504 9148

Passcode: 345201

When you click the link you will be taken directly to the presentation. If you are too early, you'll either see a message telling you the presentation date and time, or one asking you to wait until the host starts the meeting.

Just before you join the meeting you will see another window that:

  • Asks you to confirm your name.
  • Allows you to join with/without video. If you elect not to show video (or if you do not have a connected camera) other participants will see a picture containing your name.

When you join the meeting you will see the host's screen and your image in a small window with your name on it. If you select 'View options' at the top of the screen you can switch to gallery view that attempts to show images of all the participants However, there is a limit to how many people you can see due to the screen size of your device. It's not a particularly useful option if there are a large number of participants.

Note that you can reduce the load on your internet connection by using 'Active speaker' view. You will see just one other person, but Zoom will try to switch automatically to the person who is speaking.