How To Setup A Home Video Conference: A Guide on What You Need To Know

There’s no doubt that remote and hybrid work has been steadily gaining popularity over the last few years, particularly since the pandemic forced so many of us into working from home. While the lockdowns may be in the past, the work-from-home mentality has stayed, and employers and employees alike are relishing the benefits of remote work.

However, it hasn’t always been a trouble-free transition and many people have felt challenged in terms of their at-home tech. set-up.

Most offices and facilities naturally came fully equipped with all the tech and hardware that made working life easy, but now that more of us are at home, the setups can be basic at best and entirely impractical at worst.

A great example of the need for a robust setup is video conferencing and collaborative meetings. It’s less than ideal when you’re trying to have a professional conversation with colleagues or clients and your Zoom call keeps cutting out, or your webcam doesn’t connect – or maybe the sound quality is grainy and unintelligible. Not only can this affect productivity, but it can also result in miscommunication and a deterioration in working relationships.

If you want to create the professional experience that your clients will love you for, then you need the right tools for the job. This is precisely what we’re diving into today. This article will cover everything you need to know when building the best home video conference set up from scratch and tips to make it all work seamlessly.

So, let’s get into it…

 

What is a video conference?

 

To begin with, let’s take a look at the different tech elements that make up a video conference.

This is a form of online technology that allows people from all over the world to connect with each other in real-time, using audio and video displays. It tries to replicate the experience of a real-world conference that would have taken place in a physical space, and translate this to a digital experience, delivered via computers and smartphones.

For example, you may have a meeting going on in an office with the production team in one room, and have three suppliers in different parts of the world all tuning into the same meeting. Everyone can see and hear each other and communicate in real-time.

Plenty of modern video conference setups will also allow for an extensive range of collaborative tools to be used. This could include features such as;

  • Digital whiteboards for annotations and notetaking
  • File sharing
  • Reactions
  • Text chat
  • Screen Sharing
  • And many more!

However, video conferencing doesn’t have to just be in an office-based setting, though this used to be the case only a few years ago. Nowadays, thanks to how accessible advanced technology is, you can join a video conference at home or even on the move using just a smartphone.

But, for the purpose of this article, we’re going to explore how you can get a proper video conference set up at home; one that is both professional and reliable.

 

How to set up a video conference?

 

Firstly, bear in mind there’s no hard and fast way to do this. Professional who need a video conferencing solution will have a variety of requirements and many possible restrictions. If communication is your priority, you’ll want to focus on crisp audio, high-quality video feeds, stable internet connections, and the ability for everyone to connect.

On the other hand, if your focus is on project management, then you’ll want features like collaborative tools, annotations on screen sharing, fast file sharing, and so on. Each focus requires different equipment and set ups, so clarifying the objectives at the outset is essential.

Take time to figure out what you want and how you would like to achieve that. Ask yourself

“What is the most important element of the set-up for you to deliver your work objectives effectively?’’

For simplicity, we are going to focus on creating a general conferencing set-up but if you have specific goals then make sure you take the advice of an expert – it’ll save you time and money.

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty….

 

Choose Your Software

You’ll want to look at two main platforms in terms of video conferencing software; Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Both are considered to be industry standard, but as a rule of thumb, Zoom is great for smaller businesses, whereas Microsoft Teams is more relevant to larger enterprises and businesses that are already heavily reliant on the Microsoft infrastructure.

If you are looking for some more guidance on which platform is best for you, check out our extensive article comparing the two here.

However, there are other solutions you may want to check out, including;

Set Up Your Equipment

Now it’s time to set up the hardware.

The minimum equipment you’ll need for a video conference includes;

  • A PC with a monitor (ideally two monitors or spoil yourself with three!)
  • Headphones (so the audio doesn’t loop through the mic)
  • A decent microphone
  • A decent webcam
  • Wired/Wireless connectivity setup

Some elements may be built into your PC or screen; or you may need to buy them.

But that’s it for a good basic set-up.

But there are plenty of other add-ons and devices that will offer more functionality. For example, you may want to include;

 

  • Interactive displays for initiative control
  • Multiple cameras (for desk view, face view, alternative angle, full room view, etc.)
  • Intelligent tracking cameras
  • Portable microphones (such as a headset mic or one that clips to your shirt, known as a Lavalier mic)
  • Speakers and room audio equipment
  • Lighting
  • Blinds for windows
  • A nice, subtle, distraction-free background

 

The best approach is to avoid buying everything in one go. Instead, get the essentials and then build on that set-up; as the need arises. If your lighting is poor, for example, then you might want to invest in lighting but try all the established tricks and tips first, as there are many ways to achieve better image quality.

The good news is you have lots of choice when it comes to deciding on your home video conferencing setup. If you have legacy systems, it might make sense to build on what you have and individually source each piece of the puzzle as above. The alternative is to opt for a fully packaged solution from one of our leading partners such as Creston or Poly.

 

Crestron Video Conference Solutions

The Crestron Flex Solutions work seamlessly with Teams, Zoom and Unified Communications. This solution will probably tick all your boxes and it offers a robust, professional remote meeting solution that you can rely on. If you have any queries about what Crestron can deliver, why not get in touch with us and we can talk this through?

 

 

Poly Video Conference Solutions

Poly also offers a full suite of Video Conferencing solutions which integrate seamlessly with your video conferencing software of choice. Poly is suitable for any room size, from a huddle space to a conference hall in a range of options which we provide including the Polycom Group 300, 500, 700 & CX8000. Again, to make sure you get the setup most suitable for your home we recommend getting touch with us so that we can design the right solution, within budget, to meet your exact needs.

 

 

Set Everything Up

Once you’ve got the hardware in place, it’s time to connect everything up. This should be quite simple since these days almost everything uses USB connections! All you need to do is to follow the on-screen installation wizards and taking everything one step at a time.

Also, you’ll find that most devices are compatible with each other, and if you’re having issues, it should be easy to find a solution via an online community or the equipment provider.

When you’re all set up, test the system thoroughly and get confident using the software and the hardware.  Don’t forget to write down anything you think can be improved (lighting, webcam quality, audio quality, etc.) and make any useful adjustments that you can before you take it to the real world of remote working! Here’s some things to try…..

 

Top Tips for Setting Up a Home Video Conference

 

Minimize Distractions

Whether you’re focusing on video or audio, the fewer the distractions, the better your experience. Let’s say you have a messy background and you’re on a video feed; others on the call will be distracted. This simply makes communication more challenging – detracting from your overall performance and their experience (remain professional and have a dedicated workspace (or at least look like you have!).

Lighting is Important

We’ve touched on lighting, but it’s vital to make your setup as good as possible. Your camera needs as much light as possible to produce the best image. That’s just how cameras work. However, you don’t want a ton of shadows everywhere, and you don’t want to be lit up like a Christmas tree.

Instead, try to either be facing natural light (your PC set up in front of a window) or completely block out inconsistent natural light and use positioned lights.

 

Be Aware of Your Webcam Angle

Webcam angles make all the difference. Imagine if you were looking up to someone for a whole conversation or looking down on them. It creates a weird feeling that makes everyone feel awkward.

Instead, position your webcam so your face is aligned with the camera, and everything is at eye level. This will make everyone you’re speaking to feel a lot more comfortable, and it will be a lot more personable. You may want to adjust the height of your chair to optimize the positioning.

Good webcam angles give an excellent professional touch that too many remote workers miss out on.

Final Words on Getting Your at Home Video Conference Set Up Right

 

If you are working remotely, it’s likely that video conferencing is a key component of your working life, and central to effective communications with clients, colleagues, suppliers and others. So don’t neglect your set-up and don’t compromise when you should be pushing for the very best solution that allows you to work effectively. Set yourself up for success!

If you would like further advice on your specific situation and video conferencing needs, then please get in touch with us. Understanding your room, the communication challenges you are trying to solve, your way of working and your budget – is all vital to us. Then we can design the right solution, within budget, to meet your exact needs.

You’re worth it!