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Practical tips to make your next video call more professional

Posted 03 Feb 2021

Over the last year, video conferencing has taken off as one of the key ways to collaborate with colleagues and keep in touch with others whilst remote working.

Although it’s been widely used for years by members of the public (thanks to FaceTime), many businesses had previously been reluctant to use video calls instead of face-to-face meetings. However, the coronavirus pandemic has forced this change and we’ve worked with many of our clients across the East of England to help them get to grips with tools such as Microsoft Teams.

Companies such as Imperial Ductwork Services have hugely benefited from the ability to use video calls with clients, telling us “This has allowed us to springboard into another direction and it’s had a huge impact on our business over the last few months. For example, we can have onsite communication with site managers, and we can have virtual meetings with clients. It has really opened our eyes to what we could have been doing beforehand.”

Video calls can blur the lines between home and work

But one of the drawbacks of video conferencing whilst working from home is the fact that participants can see directly into your workspace. For many people, this can blur the boundaries between work and personal life. For others, it can be difficult to focus on professional video calls whilst simultaneously juggling other commitments, such as home schooling. Background noise and other distractions can be hugely off-putting to all participants.

But thanks to the array of features available within Microsoft Teams, there are a few practical solutions that can help ensure that your next video call remains professional.

Here are a few of our favourite practical tips for video conferencing. 

Microsoft Teams lets you disguise your background

Many of us are living and working in chaotic environments at the moment. Living, working and potentially home-schooling children in the same location is a recipe for chaos. Whilst some people are fortunate to have a spare office space to work from or a quiet corner, others are having to make-do.

If you’re concerned about what your colleagues may see when you log on for your next video conference, then why not take advantage of the blurred background feature available within MS Teams?

This will hide anything that is behind you; from private photographs to piles of washing. It means that you remain the sole focus on the screen.

When you’re in a meeting, simply click the three dots next to the raise hand icon and select “Apply background effects.”

If you’re not keen on the blurred screen, then why not choose your own background setting? You can choose your own preferred background screen – from luxury penthouse apartments through to countryside settings and even beach scenes. For those with savvy marketing teams, you can even upload your very own corporate branded background – ideal for digital networking where you’re trying to make a good impression.

Microsoft Teams can let you minimise background noise

Another common distraction for video calls is the unexpected background noise. Whether it’s the children watching TV, the dog barking, or even a delivery driver knocking on the door, working from home can lead to more external noise than you may like.

Whilst a simple solution is to put yourself on mute (unless you’re talking), you may be interested to learn that Microsoft is now using artificial intelligence to reduce any unwanted background noise whilst you’re on a call. The ‘noise suppression’ feature was launched by Microsoft in December 2020 and it is designed to pick up those noises that drop in and out such as a dog barking, or keys typing as well as stationary ‘white noise’ such as an electronic fan.

As this is a new feature, it’s currently only available in the desktop version of Microsoft Teams. 

To enable the noise suppression feature during a live chat, navigate to the more options dots (like you did with the background choice) and click device settings. This is where you should see the noise suppression choices – if it is selected as “auto” you may want to change this to “high” – this means that all background noise will be minimised that isn’t speech. 

blog graphic outlining how to find the noise suppression feature for Microsoft Teams

(Image c/o Microsoft

Know how to share your screen successfully

During a meeting with colleagues or clients, there will inevitably be a time where you need to share your screen with other participants. Whilst you may be happy to show what you’re working on, you may want to be careful about what others can see – particularly if you’re working on a confidential project.

To share a file during a video chat on Microsoft Teams, you should navigate to the Share Content icon (or press Ctrl+Shift+E). This will open up a box displaying all of your open programmes and windows. You can use this as a preview to choose which window you want to share. 

Image showing how to share a screen successfully via Microsoft Teams

Remember that if you choose to share via Desktop, you can allow other users to see your entire screen (including notifications that may pop up). If you want to remain private, you should choose the share via the Window option.

We can help you to make the most out of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams has a variety of features available within it to enable collaborative working. However, many businesses aren’t making use of all of the features simply because they don’t know that they are there.

As a managed IT provider, we don’t just install your IT systems, we take the time to educate your staff on how to use them. If you need some help and support on how to make the most of Microsoft Teams, please get in touch   

by Amy Dawson