Everyone across the nation is working from home and to alleviate that feeling of isolation we are all relying on video conference. With this wonderful piece of technology, we can check in with our teammates, consult with our customers, communicate with our family and have virtual happy hours with our colleagues. Before you jump on the video conference and start using a particular piece of software, there are some things you need to take into consideration like what is the best software application for you and what things you need to have in place before you use video chat. Follow my tips to find out what things you need to have in place. How fast are you surfing the web? Before you even begin to think about streaming video, you need to get a good idea of how fast your internet is at home with your land-based Internet and your cellular provider. Get in contact with your Internet provider to find out what your plan is and if you're getting unlimited Internet, especially if you're wanting to stream video from your smartphone. Why? Video uses a LOT of data and if you're on a limited plan, you can burn through your data quickly. Once you confirm you're not on a limited data plan, visit Ookla's Speedtest (www.speedtest.net) or download the app to your smart device. This service allows you to check out your current Internet speed so you can compare it to what Internet speed plan you are paying for and if your speeds are consistent. Fast, reliable Internet is important. When you run the test, the most important number is your download speed which should be at least 20 Mbps (Megabits Per Second) or higher. The faster the download speed, the faster you can stream video on your computer or phone. You can also use it to troubleshoot if you're having connectivity issues with your Internet provider.
What do I do about 'Zoom Bombing'? Zoom Bombing is the act of an unwanted participant joining and interacting in your video conference. These interlopers can display offensive images and use offensive language. They can also send the participants files to infect their devices with malware and ransomware. They can also get access to your Zoom cloud account if you store your recorded Zoom videos in the cloud. With the rise of 'Zoom Bombing', the issues of security have popped up, making many people rethink their strategy for video conferencing. You can continue to use Zoom, but you want to take the following steps if you do:
1. Add a Zoom meeting password
2. Disable File Transfers
3. Disable "Join Before Host"
4. Change Screen sharing to “host-only”
5. Disable the feature to Allow removed participants to rejoin”
Do you mind if people listen to your video conversations?
Depending on what type of information you plan to share during your video call, you want to be selective about which service you use. If you want your video chats secured, make sure the service you're using has end to end encryption. Simply put, End to end encryption allows your chat to be secure and private. Without it, there a possibility your conversations can get into the hands of people who want to steal your personal or business data. When using video conferencing apps that use End to End encryption they will use more of your Internet data.
When considering video conferencing software, you want to consider software available on every platform. For example, Apple's Facetime is one of the oldest video chat software around. It's easy to use and it offers end to encryption. It's perfect for secure connections with customers and family members that have iPhones, but sorry Apple users, we still live in a Windows world and not everyone has an iPhone.
What are your choices?
1. Zoom. You can't talk about video conferencing software without talking about Zoom. It's easy to use and it's available for every tech device on the market. For most users, the features offered in a free account are more than enough for video calls and webinars from 2 to 100 or more connections. One of my favorite features includes the ability to share your screen during video calls and the fact you can record video from your calls. End to end encryption is automatically enabled in Zoom chat, but you need to enable end to end encryption for video by going logging in to your Zoom account then going to 'Meeting Settings', then navigate to 'end to end encryption' and slide the switch from off to on.
2. Google Hangouts Meet. If you have a Gmail account, you have access to Google Hangouts. This popular video chat app allows you can share documents, links to websites, your screen, and images. Like Zoom, you can join from any tech device and you can talk to up to 250 users if you have a paid GSuite account. Unfortunately, Google Hangouts video is encrypted, but it does not have end to end encryption.
3. WhatsApp. WhatsApp is probably the most used chatting app on the planet and it has a video chat feature as well. Video calls only work through the iPhone and Android app (so no video calls from a desktop computer). It also has end-to-end encryption which will keep those calls secure. It isn't a robust as many of the business video chat platforms, but it is good enough to chat with friends and family or a small group of up to 4 people
4. GoToMeeting. This is a great video conferencing solution when you need to work with several co-workers and can support up to 150 people. It works with both Windows and Mac computers and most smartphones. GoToMeeting is powerful enough that you can create personal meeting rooms allowing more than one meeting can take place. It's the only program that allows you to share your mouse and keyboard with the people you are conferenced in with.
5. Cisco Webex. Like GoToMeeting, Webex lets you create multiple conferencing rooms, share your screen and send files back and forth. You are able to host up to 200 people, save the video of your presentation and you have end to end encryption for your sessions.
6. Skype/Skype Meetings/Microsoft Teams. Skype has been around forever, but depending on which version you have you are limited on what you can do. If you have Free Skype, you can video conference from any device and talk with up to 50 people. If you are paying for a Microsoft Office 365 account, you can use Skype meetings which allows you to talk up to 250 people and share your screen and files as you can with GoToMeeting and Webex.Skype stands out because it lets you connect with landlines and mobile phones, eliminating the need for everyone you want to meet with to have access to the Skype software. In case you were wondering, Skype does have end to end encryption.
With most of us working from home, it's important you take the proper steps to figure out how you are going to connect with family, friends coworkers and customers. Before you jump on the video chat bandwagon, take the time to find out which one is going to work best for you.
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