Reposted from my personal Facebook:
The computer nerd in me (I run a small business tech consultancy, Ungatech) wants to share some not-so-brief tips for online meetings:
- Whatever your preferences are, use what everyone else is already using at work. Typically your networking team knows what they’re doing and they’ve optimized your network and VPN to handle the load accordingly. Ideally they’re using bandwidth external to your VPN so it’s not as critical to bandwidth. However, they have also designed security around this solution and is important to follow these guidelines with so many remote workers.
- For one-on-one video chats, just about anything is great. Discord, Facebook Messenger, Facetime, Google Duo and Skype are all great choices. This is important when checking up on the technologically challenged who may not know how to use anything else. Again, the good rule of thumb is to use what they know.
- For smallish groups, just about everything in #2 can handle your small group, again without too many issues. Except Google Duo. Believe the Duo part of the name 😉 UPDATE: this changed just one week after posting this on Facebook to 12 people
- For more than 4 people, you need to start getting choosy about online meeting apps, ideally things that are made from the ground up for large group conversations. I happen to use Microsoft Teams with my systems and engineering teams and Google Meet for community/family things. Both use a tiny amount of bandwidth until you get into the whole screen sharing issue. If someone is presenting their screen, I highly recommend Teams or Meet users to share only the window they need to share and even then to keep the window at the smallest usable size. If it works for your use case, have everyone not engaged in active conversation turn off their webcams. It’s not important to see people talking but it can be helpful to convey subtle conversational clues that are often missed over the phone. Keep video chat to primary speakers only, if possible. Discord has some great features as well along with TeamViewer, 8×8 and a few others built on the same technology. While it’s still important to use what other people have access to, sometimes what they have access to isn’t ideal and a little bit of prep work can make your life so much easier. If you have regular, large online meetings with a lot of dynamic content, I highly recommend Google Meet. It also happens to be free for up to 100 participants!
- When needed, use your smartphone and 4G/LTE connection instead of your home router. AT&T and T-Mobile are currently offering unlimited bandwidth to do their part to help. If your carrier does the same thing, you’re in luck! If not, a quick search of your router make, model and the keyword “QoS” or “priority traffic” with your intended app can be super helpful.
- Last, but not least: technology is a tool and shouldn’t get in the way of what you need to accomplish. There are so many options out there including conference rooms that work with VR headsets! Find what you like and use it! This is to help maintain some semblance of human connection while being a good citizen and keeping your germs to yourself 😉
As always, your local nerd is always a good resource. Just remember that everyone has an opinion and computer nerds are no different. We can be irrational/delusional in our opinions. In the end, try a few things out and use what works for you 🙂
Here’s wishing you all happy and safe meetings!