Video-Conferencing is Easier Than Ever! Saint Cloud MN
Saint Paul, MN
Lake Elmo, MN
Video-Conferencing is Easier Than Ever!
Save on Gas Costs While You Connect Live and On-Camera to Your Business World
By Gregory Grabowski, PE
Do you need Video Teleconferencing?
As I write this from Seoul, Korea, I can’t but wonder about the technological advances that have made our world so much smaller. Seoul is not the usual location for a telecommuter or a U.S. home business, but there comes time when face-to-face relationships must be nurtured in order for a business to thrive and grow. However, when you can’t jump on a plane or drive into the office to be there in person, Video Teleconferencing (VTC) is the next best thing.
While your particular need to conduct a VTC with clients or vendors may not be great, there are some business needs that can leverage this technology and save money on time and travel. Examples include arbitration and mediation businesses; contract negotiations; design reviews; team/meeting facilitation businesses; or any time face-to-face dialogue is required with 2 or more parties separated by time and distance.
From telecommuters to independent home businesses, VTC is one of the many tools you should have available and be familiar with before the need arises. VTC can also help you save on today’s high fuel costs!
Equipment and Software
To get your face and voice to one or more other parties and to see and hear theirs as well requires some specific equipment. You’ll need a Web ready camera and high quality microphone, a high-speed Internet connection (cable, ISDN or DSL), software to put it all together (for point to point VTCs), or a hosted service if you need to VTC with two or more other parties.
Although most of the web cams available in electronic stores or major online vendors today are of sufficient quality to do the job, the image of your business will be affected by the quality of your meetings. I suggest a USB 2.0 or greater WebCam with a frame rate of not less than 30 frames per second. You shouldn’t spend more than about $100 for a high quality camera, though you can spend a lot less.
The microphone cannot be underestimated here. A head-phone mounted set with a boom microphone is a must. I use a boom-mic headset which provides superior voice quality going out, and it keeps the speaker sound coming in up at my ears in order to prevent that annoying feedback screech. My set cost $130 and is worth it when I’m hosting a meeting.
A broadband Internet connection is an absolute must for a VTC. Cable, DSL or ISDN broadband connections are critical to eliminating latency, echoes, and drops in your meetings.
Stand Alone or Hosted
As most of my VTC meetings are point to point, I use Microsoft’s free NetMeeting® application. This is about as simple as having both participants log on, click a few buttons, and begin the meeting with both voice and video. Although limi...