Tips for getting the most out of video conferencing platforms

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As remote working becomes the ‘new norm’ and we strive to stay connected with colleagues, family and friends, we are all relying on video conferencing and collaboration technology to an extent none of us could have imagined just a few months ago.

Indeed, all the major video conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Webex have seen an unprecedented rise in usage numbers recently.  For instance, Microsoft has reported that Teams is now the company’s fastest growing business application and surpassed 44m daily active users in mid-March, compared to 20m in November 2019.  Meanwhile, Zoom has seen 200 million daily meeting participants throughout the month of March 2020, compared to 10 million in December 2019. Cisco’s Webex platform has also reported a surge in numbers, having hosted 50 million meetings in March with numbers continuing to rise.

There’s no doubt that video conferencing apps are very helpful in keeping us connected, collaborative and productive when working from home. However, there are many innovative lesser-known features of these apps that we can all make use of to enhance our video conferencing experience.

Below, we take a deeper look at the Microsoft Teams app and share our top tips for getting the most out of the platform.  If you use another channel such as Zoom or Webex, it’s worth keeping these in mind too as the platforms share similar features.

Testing, 1, 2, 3…

make a test call

Technical glitches will naturally happen, but to reduce those awkward ‘can you hear me?’ moments, it’s best to run an audio/video test before going live on call. To do so within Teams, go to your settings by selecting your profile photo on the top menu, and then select devices and Make a test call. This allows you to playback your own recording to ensure your audio and video setting are working correctly.  If necessary, you can then make changes to your device settings to optimise your experience.

Stay connected, wherever you are

Although we are now spending the majority of our time at home, it’s handy to stay connected whilst you’re away from your usual workspace.  Through the Microsoft Teams mobile app, you can send quick messages wherever you are, whether that be during a walk or whilst you are spending time in the garden.  You can keep your Teams workflow going with the simplified app interface, which emphasises chats and channels. Of course, you can turn off notifications at any time and also use the scheduled quiet hours and days setting to avoid getting notifications out-with working hours. The app is available for iOS, Android and Windows.

Know your shortcuts

Like all apps, knowing the handy shortcuts can improve your experience, efficiency and productivity. Microsoft has a full guide on Teams shortcuts for Windows and Mac available here.  We have highlighted the main shortcuts for Windows operating systems below.

Set your notifications and filters

Working from home may lead to more distractions, not only around you, but also digitally. If you use Teams within a large group, frequent chat notifications can distract you from the task at hand. That’s where the Teams notifications and filter settings come in useful. Within your account settings, you can go to notifications to select the types of alerts you receive, whether your preference is ‘banner’, ‘banner and email’, or ‘only show in feed’. Within your individual channels, you can also select when you want to be notified, e.g. only when someone @ mentions you, or to all messages and replies.

Record meetings and calls

Keep important information and details readily at hand with the record call function.  With the press of a button, Microsoft Teams allows you to record your video or audio call and save for later reference. This can be especially handy when screen-sharing and showing ‘how-to’s, so call participants can access the content again easily.  To access the record function on a call, go to the main controls and select the ‘…’ icon, then select start recording. All participants will be notified of the meeting recording. Teams also has a useful shared meeting notes function which can be accessed during the video call if you prefer to take written notes. Just go to more options at the bottom of the call screen and show meeting notes in the meeting controls, allowing collaborative note-taking.

Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Cisco Webex are just a few of the great tools we can make use of to improve communication and collaboration whilst remote working.

If you would like to see more articles like this one for other remote working technologies, or you would like to see more in-depth guides for Zoom and Cisco Webex, please let us know.

If your business needs help fulfilling and optimising its flexible working strategy, NVT Group can help. Find out more here.