The conference calling equipment of today comes with almost too many options for the average business owner to choose from. It becomes so much more than just an issue of eliminating the nasty entanglement of wires. Sophisticated options for muting, recording and call inclusion are among a few of the special premiums offered. If your video conferences are not quite up to par because periodic static or fuzziness of picture interferes with their presentation, there is hope that these and other problems can be easily resolved or eliminated. Read on for some tips on what to look for when choosing the proper hardware for your video and conference calling.
Desktop Computers and the Internet
Although it would seem almost unnecessary to say it, some offices, particularly newer ones, are not fully equipped with desktop computers. You must invest in PCs for your staff if you plan to incorporate conference calls into your business protocol. You can actually calculate your net worth based on the quality of the computer technology you can afford.
Each employee should also have total Internet access, far beyond the ability to check email or download a joke of the day. The extra expense is worth it for the vast array of information and the ease and speed of communication that it provides for web conferencing.
Avoid low quality and Mobile Phones
With mobile phones, many variables can cause issues such as changing environments, wind noise (when talking outside) and background noise. Make sure you are using a solid land-line (cannot be had with a cordless phone).
There are a few cordless alternatives, however, should you prefer to go that route. Conference call cell phones shaped like a half star-fish can operate without the wall outlet and only need battery power. This might work well in a conference room, which lacks the floor telephone jack in the middle of the room, which does sometimes occur. A wired phone still might be a better way to go because of the problems with frequencies that often occur in many office buildings.
VOIP services have their pros and cons. Their lines use the Internet to transfer audio and because of the varying levels of speed involved, these lines can waver in voice quality. With VOIP, make sure to use *6 to mute extraneous noise. VOIP costs less, especially in regard to long distance calls, which are offered at flat rates, and incoming calls can be automatically routed to a VOIP phone regardless of where the Internet connection is located. VOIP phones can also be integrated with other Internet services and a user can easily send or receive messages or data.
For best results, use a headset with a quality microphone. A headset allows you to have both hands free, and when you use a standard model, in which the phone is held with your hand, it can cause variations in the volume due to the unstable position of the microphone and your mouth.
Whether built into your PC or an external plug-in, you can't do without a microphone if you wish to communicate over the Internet. Spend a little more than the minimum because the cheaper ones will not eliminate static or provide for a clear conversation. Microphones provide that which there is no substitute for during a video conference; namely, the clear enhancement of voices picked up from other participants on the conference call.
A webcam is simply a camera that is connected to the Internet. This broad definition makes it difficult to determine which type will best suit your particular business needs. If your conference calls will be soley of a verbal nature, you won't need a webcam. Face-to-face-interaction however, should never be underestimated, as it permits the utilization of facial expressions and professional demeanor. A webcam will allow you to turn a computer-enabled meeting into a personalized one.
One of the biggest business mistakes made with webcams is that they aren't given the "marketing attention" they deserve. Often they are simply “thrown together by an astute computer employee who doesn't realize the economic power that a webcam can generate. Highly rated webcam sites are almost always capable of 5 frames per second or more. Consider investing some time and money to make your company webcam pay off for you.
Choosing the right hardware for your next videoconference can make all the difference between creating an effective business meeting and a disappointment. Choose wisely and spend some quality time in understanding all the options available. Don't buy impulsively even if you are under pressure due to a time frame or other factors. There are so many options available that there probably are several hardware solutions that would work for your company.
Just remember that the videoconference you save may well turn out to be your own!