With the nation finding itself at home for the foreseeable future, friendships are going digital. From Houseparty to Zoom, to Skype and Facebook Messenger, people are being beamed into cyber-parties up-and-down the country. It’s almost like we’re now all crew members on the Starship Enterprise!
And though many of us – the iPhone generation, in particular – are fully tech-literate, plenty of people often struggle – and we don’t necessarily mean grandma. After all, when we meet our friends in real life, we don’t need to worry about dropped lines, dreadful sound quality, blurred screens, or sudden pixelation.
To help overcome these challenges, and to help streamline the burgeoning social bandwagon, we wanted to share our top tips on how to enjoy a stress-free video call – helping you keep in touch with those that mean the most to you!
Be careful not to overload the network
There’s nothing worse than a bad connection and even the most advanced of videoconferencing platforms won’t be able to withstand overloaded network activity. If you’re on a video call whilst simultaneously downloading data-heavy files, streaming movies or playing video games online, the quality of the call will drop – sometimes a lot. If you’re really looking for that crystal clear video picture, why not try using wired Ethernet instead of WiFi, as you’ll less likely get lag or interference.
Be cautious of privacy settings
It’s important for both parties that you take precautionary measures to prevent your private information from falling into the wrong hands. Many videoconferencing apps now offer enhanced privacy settings that allow you to set up meeting passwords or lock the virtual ‘meeting room’, which can be turned on to prevent unwanted intruders from joining the call. Most importantly, be sure that you are only sharing these passwords with trusted individuals and not on public forums or with anyone that you do not know.
Lighting and angles
All of the above is essentially pointless if poor lighting or an unfortunate angle means you can’t see anyone or be seen on the video call. So be sure to sit by a good source of light (natural is preferable but for evening calls a reading lamp works just as well) and be sure to the largest source of light right in front of you. Avoid low angles! The best angle is head-on at eye level, or higher, if holding your phone this is easily achievable but as most tables sit lower than your face, when using a computer you can always improvise a stand using a set of books.
Give yourself time to test
Finally, be sure to give your computer or phone a test run before joining the call. This helps you figure out whether you need to be closer to the router, if your microphone works and whether you need a change of scenery. Be sure to give yourself 5 minutes before the call starts to iron out any issues. After all, it’s probably best to also check in with Grandma to see if she needs any last-minute pointers.