IP Video Events
Streaming video is a one-way digital audio/video communication broadcast to a user's desktop. This page covers the following topics: Understanding the Medium, Working with Equipment, and Preparing Graphics.
Understanding the Medium
Two-way Internet protocol videoconferencing - often called "two-way videoconferencing" or "IP videoconferencing" - is a way of delivering two-way audio and video over the Internet.
Two-way videoconferencing is not a good "one-to-many" broadcast method. Instead, it is best for communicating with a manageable amount of sites (we suggest no more than 10-12 sites). If you want interaction with groups at a controlled number of sites, then two-way videoconferencing is a good choice.
If you have larger groups, consider using streaming video (which provides video, but not two-way interaction), rather than two-way videoconferencing. With very large groups, it's best to use e-mail for interaction instead of polling a large group.
Once the videoconference starts, there are a number of practices to make sure the event is successful:
- You Are Always On Camera
Whenever you dial into a conference, other sites may see you immediately. Also, if you are the last person to talk during an event, your site remains on screen for the presenter after she or he starts talking again.
- Be Aware of Lighting, Camera Angle and Focus
Avoid sitting in front of a window; if the room doesn't allow for another position, make sure to close the blinds.
- Be Aware of Your Microphone
Mute your microphone when you aren't speaking and never move your microphone across a table unless it is muted.
- Minimize Background Noise
Close doors when possible to prevent outside noises from being heard by other sites.
- Identify Your Site
When you dial in, it is nice to put up a sign. This is especially important when several sites are participating.
Working with Equipment
Videoconferences use technology more than traditional meetings. That technology requires participants to consider the communication challenges that technology presents.
Two-way videoconferencing uses television sets, and television is a passive medium. With that in mind, it is important to include appropriate interaction in your videoconferences. You want to avoid long "information dumps" and provide active instruction, including plenty of chances for participants to interact.
Since two-way videoconferencing uses the Internet to deliver video signals, the image quality is somewhat degraded. If you want to provide participants with materials that have specific and explicit visual detail, then you may want ot find another method to deliver these materials. For example, you could send your materials out ahead of time so copies may be handed out, allowing your audience to follow along with you.
Designing graphics for television is different than preparing them for presentations in the classroom or for other groups, but many of the same elements apply. Here are some tips for preparing your visuals:
- Use font sizes between 28-40 points. Anything below 24 points could be unreadable to those using smaller monitors.
- Use sans serif fonts such as Helvetica or Arial.
- Be bold - in most cases, making your text bold is a good idea.
Keep your layouts centered. Computer monitors display a larger screen area than televisions. Avoid using the marginal 10-15 percent of the screen since it may not appear on a smaller television screen.
Backgrounds and Colors
- Contrasts work best. You want a lot of contrast between your text and background. Preferably, you should use black (or very dark) text on a white (or very light) background. White (or very light) text against a black (or very dark) background is acceptable if legible.
- Do not use gradient backgrounds. some people like to use pictures as backgrounds or graphics. This acceptable, but you want to take care not to use a background image that makes your text difficult to read.
- Try not to use more than seven words in a line of text. Remember, you are summarizing material, not delivering it verbatim.
- Limit yourself to six or seven lines of text, depending on font size.
- Use your PIP (picture in a picture) to adjust your camera.
- Never aim the camera with a window in the background.
- Do not hide by pointing your camera at the ceiling, wall, or a sign. In a face-to-face meeting, you are seen. A videoconference should be no different.
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