Web conference meetings, like ones using Zoom, can be made better with a little preparation before meetings while following some best practices during meetings. These recommendations can help improve the quality of the audio and video as well as the overall experience.

Consider your audio before the meeting

Test your microphone and speakers

It’s important to ensure the correct microphone and speakers are selected.

  1. Once logged into the Zoom meeting, click the arrow to the right of the Mute/Unmute button at the bottom of Zoom.
  2. Ensure the microphone and speaker you want to use is selected.
  3. Select Test Speaker and Microphone….
  4. Follow the prompts to test your speakers and microphone.
  5. Click the Finish button when done.

More information about testing audio in Zoom is available on the Zoom support site.

Find a quiet spot

When possible, try to attend meetings in quiet, indoor locations to avoid too much ambient noise. Also, a space with softer surfaces also can help improve audio quality.

Be aware of background sounds

Avoid tapping on the table, wearing noisy jewelry, or other sounds that may be transmitted. If meeting from home, be aware of normal household sounds (e.g., a washing machine) that you might not notice, but could be picked up by the microphone.

It is good practice to mute your microphone before joining the meeting. You can unmute when you need to speak (unless the meeting host has chosen to mute all attendees). Muting your microphone frees your device from having to do echo cancellation and will improve the overall call quality

Use a headset or earbuds

Generally speaking, audio quality is improved when using a headset or earbuds because it cut down on ambient noises that your computer mic might have picked up. It also helps reduce the echo cancellation required when using the computer mic, which can improve the performance of your computer.

Dealing with an echo

An echo is generally caused by an incorrect audio setup.

  • If using a phone for audio but your computer for video, make sure that you do not also have the computer audio connected.
  • If more than one person is on the same call in the same room, only one person should have their speaker enabled.
  • Choose the same source for both your mic and speakers (i.e. don’t use your built-in computer speakers while using your display’s mic).

Consider your video before the meeting

Test your video

This is a helpful step to ensure what appears in the video frame is what you expect to broadcast.

  1. Once logged into the Zoom meeting, click the arrow to the right of the Stop Video/Start Video button at the bottom of Zoom.
  2. Ensure the camera you want to use is selected.
  3. Select Video Settings… to see a preview of what you and others will see from your video feed.
  4. Select a different camera (if you have more than one camera) if the incorrect camera is selected.
  5. Close the window.

More information about testing video in Zoom is available on the Zoom support site.

Check behind you

Be aware of what’s behind you as it will be present in the video. Both Zoom and Google Meet give you a preview of your video prior to joining a meeting.

Adjust the lights

  • Try not to sit directly in front of or beside a bright light source that may cast your face in shadow. Try out multiple positions in a room or move a lamp around until you can see your well-lit face on the screen. Low light levels may cause your camera to look out of focus or noisy/grainy.

Adjust the height of your camera

Try to keep your camera level and not tilted up or down. Distorted image and up-the-nose shots can be avoided by keeping the camera at eye level and by sitting a normal distance from the camera.

Practice makes perfect

Talk to a friend

Practice using your web conferencing tool with a friend or family member. Practice scheduling and inviting people to meetings using Google Calendar, mute and unmute yourself, and turn your video on and off.

Try Zoom’s Test Meeting

Check out Zoom’s test meeting link

Disable notifications on your device

If there’s a chance you will need to share your screen during the meeting, it’s good practice to disable audible and visible notifications (e.g., email dings, text message badges) on your device.

During the meeting

Start the meeting ahead of time

If you are hosting a meeting, start the meeting a few minutes prior to the meeting to ensure your audio and video settings are ready to go. This also allows participants to connect early, though enabling the Waiting Room can allow the host to let in participants in when they’re ready to start the meeting.

Mute your microphone

Muting yourself when not talking will increase call quality and decrease the amount of ambient noise heard by other participants. During a back-and-forth type of discussion, it is common practice to leave yourself unmuted. In Zoom, you can press and hold the spacebar on your computer to temporarily unmute your mic.

Say your name when speaking

When speaking, first say your name so that you can be easily identified (e.g., “This is The Marquis de Lafayette, and I have a question”). This also helps individuals who cannot access video (e.g., those joining by phone) to identify the speaker.

Turn off your video if the connection quality is poor

If your video is freezing, or your audio is skipping, turn off your video because you may have a weak or slow network connection. In a large meeting, turning off your video can also help the overall quality of the meeting for everyone. If attendees are unable to view or hear the meeting presenter, other participants may need to turn off their video.

Share with caution

To avoid unintentionally sharing private content (e.g., email, new message notifications, an Amazon cart), share only specific windows or tabs rather than your entire desktop. To be prepared, open any relevant documents before the call.

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