"Can you hear me? Is there an echo? Can you see me?"
Video and conference call issues prompting these questions are not just frustrating – they can cost you time and drain the productivity from your meetings. Here are six of the most common video and conference call issues and the solutions you can use to avoid or fix them, ensuring your business's virtual meetings are as productive as possible.
1. Video lagging and audio cutting out
Video lag, glitchy audio and poor image resolution are all the result of a bad Wi-Fi connection. If you don't have a strong internet connection, you might be forced to exit the conference call entirely.
Solution: When you have a video or conference call scheduled, it's best not to use a public network, because multiple devices are likely to be operating on the same Wi-Fi connection and reducing the available bandwidth. If possible, you should connect via private network, whether that's at the office or home. If your connection is still spotty, position your workstation closer to your router for a better connection. (As you move farther away from the router, you'll notice the signal between it and your computer worsens.)
A conference call echo is typically caused when multiple participants have speaker mode on. As a result, it sounds like the speaker is saying everything twice.
Solution: To avoid an echo, instruct all participants to mute their microphones when they aren't talking. If you are expected to be the only one speaking, such as during a presentation, you have the option to mute all other participants. Also, when possible, each participant should use a high-quality headset and microphone for HD voice and audio output.
3. Background noise
When you work remotely from home or in a public space, there's bound to be noise around you. From a neighbor firing up their lawn mower to a barista grinding coffee beans, these noises can distract everyone on the call from what you're saying.
Solution: You and all your attendees should try to keep background noise to a minimum by finding a quiet room, turning off your mobile devices and, if necessary when working from home, asking family and neighbors to keep the noise down during your meeting.
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4. Everyone speaking at once
When several participants want to respond to a question or are engaging in a lively conversation, it gets difficult to hear what everyone has to say. While this may be a sign of a fully engaged team or staff camaraderie, it makes for a chaotic business meeting.
Solution: Choose a moderator and, if available, use the software's tools to limit who can speak and when. In Zoom, for example, you can set up the call so that all participants are muted by default and only the moderator can unmute them. Participants can click the Raise Hand button if they would like to speak. This helps keep online meetings orderly and make sure each voice is heard.
5. Participants unable to connect to the call
It's very common for conference call attendees to have trouble connecting. This can be the result of a poor internet connection, the wrong dial-in number or access code, or a software issue, such as a required update.
Solution: When sending meeting invitations, moderators should include a link to a troubleshooting guide that participants can use to fix problems on their own before alerting others. Also, participants should dial in a few minutes early to ensure they have a solid connection and there aren't any issues before the meeting starts.
6. Absent team members
While most video conferences and phone calls are scheduled ahead of time, a team member may have an urgent matter pop up at the last minute that prevents them attending. As a result, they miss the discussion or information shared in the meeting.
Solution: Most conferencing software applications allow the meeting organizer to record the meeting and then send the audio or video file to anyone who missed the call, keeping all team members up to date with discussions. [Read related article: 13 Tips for Before, During and After a Conference Call]
What do you do when your conference call is not working?
If you are experiencing a lot of technical issues with your conference calls, try to figure out what the problem is by using basic troubleshooting techniques, such as restarting your computer, closing and rebooting your software, and seeing if all video and audio inputs are properly connected.
Rima Shah, analyst for Technostacks Infotech Pvt. Ltd., says that in order to identify the issues with your system, you must be able to see what's going on behind the screen.
"One must have immediate access to quality of service (QoS) statistics for jitter, latency, packet loss and frame rate," Shah told business.com. "If a conference call has a problem, you must be able to drill down into it and view these stats and then be able to drill into each stat and see what's causing the degradation."
Shah suggests doing two key things when your conference calls are not working:
- Check for software and hardware updates. These updates ensure that your product is operating smoothly and securely and is free of bugs. Sometimes, if you've neglected to update the hardware or software to the most recent version, problems can arise and the product won't function properly. Check your products against manufacturer resources to ensure that they are up to date. Keep your computer, mobile phone and web browsers updated too.
- Look for disconnected cables. Check your connections to make sure all your cables are connected securely, as a loose cable can cause problems with your system. Ask your IT team to set up alerts for when cables are disconnected, and put up signs to remind users to first check all the cables if they're having a problem. If your system is complex, it's also helpful to give all employees a labeled diagram of the cables.
What if conference calling problems persist?
If your business relies on video or conference calls to communicate with team members or clients, it's critical to quickly pinpoint the potential issues. You should discuss these issues with your IT staff to troubleshoot and resolve your problems more quickly.
If your business does not have IT staff, you should contact your conferencing service's customer support to resolve the issue. If your current software continues to cause problems, consider finding another conferencing service provider.
"The first step is to try and identify a specific problem," said Adam Sanders, director of Successful Release. "If you're unable to do so and multiple people are having the same issue, there is likely a software problem that requires technical support." [Read related article: Video Conferencing Technology Trends of 2020]