MNET Services>Telecom Video>Video Conferencing>Tips

This document provides many useful tips to consider when planning or participating in an event.


Always have an Agenda

A well-run event has the same starting point as a well-run "in-person" meeting. A well-organized agenda can help keep things running smoothly. If time is an issue, consider adding durations or checkpoint times to the agenda items.

Limit the Number of Participants

The greater the number of people involved, the harder it is for them to effectively take part in an event. Many of our video sites can readily accommodate eight to ten people. Larger events may be set up in classroom or theatre style configurations. Limiting the number of participants to those individuals who must be directly involved - which is a good idea for any meeting - helps keep all of the other problems down.

Most sites have room to accommodate spectators seated away from the main table. People who need to be kept informed but not actively partipate can be seated there.

Prepare the Visual Aids in Advance

Follow the graphics guidelines found in this section. Visual aids can't be as dense in video events as they can be in face-to-face meetings.

You can use name cards to allow people from all sites to ask questions to the correct person by using their name. Cards should be cream colored (as white reflects too brightly). Use a large font size and clear font such as Arial with bold letters.

Specify the Time Zone

MN.IT schedules all video events using Central Standard (or Daylight) Time. Be aware of different time zones when adding participating off-MNET sites from other time zones. When you set up a event, clarify which time zone the meeting time will be based on at each location.

Start-up Procedures

Video codecs and room systems should be powered down at the end of each day and especially on the weekend. (They can be left on overnight prior to a big event.)

To set up a video system:

  • turn the room system ON,
  • place the microphone in the correct location,
  • check the microphone input levels,
  • check the master output levels,
  • check the incoming volume levels, and
  • check all cameras.

The outgoing audio levels should be set to the recommended level of -10dBm. Most video site levels are pre-set and calibrated upon installation. Your regional coordinator or vendor should be able to help you with this process. You can also contact MN.IT to assist with the installation processes.


Turning Equipment On

It is very important to perform system start-up procedures and to be aware of how to perform these basic operations:

  • microphone mute button;
  • volume control;
  • video source selection, including main cam(era), student cam(era), doc(ument) cam(era), VCR, DVD player, and computer; and
  • outgoing audio levels

You should note the settings before you start so that you can return them to the same places when you are done. You should also take time to become familiar with the operation of the control panel before the event so that you can easily operate the system during the event. If the control panel "locks up," you can:

  • check the batteries in your infrared remote, or
  • re-boot your room system.

Arrive 15-30 minutes Early

The site's Room Contact will be on hand to help you get started. If you have never used the system before, you may prefer to schedule a training session with the Room Contact, preferable a few days before the event.

Designate a Camera Operator

Usually the chairperson at the host site and the lead participant at each of the participant sites operate the camera controls. If that is not the case, ensure that an operator is selected before the meeting starts and make sure that he or she understands the system.

Arrange the Room

Select seating based on the size of the room, the number of participants and their expected participation in the meeting. If there is not enough room at the table for everyone, those individuals with the least expected participation should be seated away from the table.

Consider the Location of the Equipment

Most of our video sites use a system of preset camera positions. Adjust the chairs so that each preset position provides a well-framed image of a participant or group of participants. Zoom in as close as possible while leaving room for movement. It is difficult to view participants who are far away from a camera that is zoomed out. Do not attempt to move the camera by hand, but use the controls designated for the camera only (usually a hand-held remote or tablet control).


Normal work attire is appropriate. From a technical standpoint, bright colors (solids except for red) transmit well; white is not as easy to look at as pastels. Busy print, plaids, or stripes should be avoided as video technology may cause them to take on an undulating, vibrating life of their own, which can be very distracting to the participants at other locations.

Avoid Using a Room with White Walls

White will reflect light and not appear well on the screen. The best colors are light cream or pastels. Consider this while designing and preparing your room for installation. Keep windows or bright lights out of view of the camera iris, as it will darken images of people to the extent that they become a silhouette.

During the Meeting

The chairperson at the host site will lead the meeting. The first action should be to establish a protocol and method of being recognized by using a roll call. Generally, at the beginning of the meeting, participants should introduce themselves by announcing their name and location. Use this opportunity for a final confirmation that the equipment is performing correctly and that people know how to use it. Speak up immediately if you experience audio or video problems. Other participants may not realize it, if you do not point it out. It is in your best interest to attempt to fix the problem before the meeting starts.

When to Speak

People feel more comfortable when they are properly introduced. They should learn the names of other event participants.

The nature of the interactive video system makes it very confusing when people interrupt (intentionally or unintentionally), speak out of turn or interject comments without attribution. You should identify yourself and your location each time you speak to help other participants keep track of the action.

Likewise, when addressing another person, use his or her name. Speak normally; direct your voice toward the nearest microphone and other participants at your table or to the camera if addressing another site. Avoid talking down at the table or into your notes, blocking your mouth with your hands or papers, as the microphone may not pick up your voice as well as it does the paper.


Your microphone(s) should be muted anytime you are not actively speaking to the other sites. When you do want to talk to the other participants, you will need to un-mute your microphone and speak for 3 to 5 seconds before the system will switch to your video site and they can see you. They will be able to hear you one second after you un-mute and begin speaking.

Reduce Background Noise Distractions

Whatever the microphone receives, is given an importance that would not be merited in an ordinary meeting situation. Remember, the room has been optimized both acoustically and electronically to pick up sound. Try not to say anything you don't want everyone at every site to hear. (Use your Mute button early and often.)

Side conversations are very disruptive and should be avoided. Be aware that you will be heard or viewed. Microphones placed around the room will magnify the conversation.

Pause Between Sentences

When talking, pause occasionally to allow for comments or questions and to give time for people in other sites to receive your message and reply to it. Depending upon the complexity of your event, there may be a delay of three to ten seconds before the camera view switches. If participants at two or more sites are exchanging rapid bolts of conversation, the video processing may cause site images to freeze or lag the conversation.

Use the Mute Button

(This one bears repeating.) When not talking, make sure you are in the "mute" mode; you should see the red light on some table microphones or the mute icon on the video screen or touchpad. Activate this mode by pressing the mute button on the microphone (if available), the remote control or the touch pad. An icon should appear on your monitor screen or touchpad which indicates you are in the mute mode. Using mute will help eliminate background noises and provide better reception of audio for video from the other sites.

Camera Usage

Initially, it is good to show a wide shot of all participants who are present at the meeting. It is not an effective use of interactive video to select a wide shot and leave it there for the duration of the meeting. People should appear to be as close to life-size as possible.

Changing to the camera preset position that best shows each participant as they speak yields a strong presentation and allows participants at remote sites to easily follow the action.

Conversely, rapid changes of camera position to keep up with the lively discussion is not within the capabilities of the system. Use the wide shot if a quick verbal exchange situation develops, saving individual shots for speakers saying more than a word or two. Too little camera change is boring, but too much is disorienting and distracting. Try to keep zooming, panning and tilting during the event to a minimum.

Using Graphics

Most video equipment vendors offer the capability to send a color image of a graph, chart, design, or drawing from one site to another during a meeting. When preparing graphics for use on the network, remember these guidelines:

  • All visual aids should be in the landscape (horizontal) format.
  • Keep the amount of type at a minimum and use the largest font applicable to get your message across. If you cannot read it, they can't read it.
  • To conform to the area of a television screen, the ratio of height to width of the image must be 3:4. Since the graphics camera in the network facility has a zoom capability, the actual size of the visual will be determined by the size of the type used.
  • Drawings should be simple, with bold lines.
  • Avoid using transparencies. If you have material as a transparency, copy it to light blue or plain white paper, then use that version. If you receive a transparency at the last minute, you can try placing a sheet of white paper beneath the transparency and tilting the document to minimize glare.
  • The maximum size visual for an 18 point font is about 4.5" by 6". In other words, if you use an 18 point font, only plan to show about a 4" x 6" index card worth of material at once.
  • The maximum size visual for a 24 point font is about 6" by 8".
  • The maximum size visual for a 36 point font is about 7" by 10".
  • Color is an excellent addition to charts, graphs and drawings. Try to avoid repetitive patterns (e.g., stripes and dots), because they may not transmit well as a video image. Use medium saturation on colors: too little saturation and they may not show as colored and too much saturation will draw attention away from your content.
  • We strongly recommend not using a typewriter to prepare visuals: their typefaces are too simply small to produce usable images.