Video teleconferencing has shrunk the business world, in a great way. We can meet, collaborate, share ideas, and go over visual information with our clients and colleagues around the world, face to face, without the need for travel. But like all innovations, video conferencing has its own hiccups.
Here’s a quick guide to four of the spookiest video conferencing issues you’ll be facing this fall, and how to troubleshoot them.
1. Failing Phantom Calls
You know the drill. You’re in front of your webcam on time, waiting for the call that never comes. Then, bbzzt, you get an email, something to the effect of “We’re calling, but not getting through.” What to do? Well, there are a number of factors that could be causing problems, but we’ll do a quick run through of the most common.
As always, check your video conferencing equipment and connections on your end, first—starting with the broader issues and working your way down to the more specific ones. How’s your internet connection? Give it a test—or a few—to make sure that you’ve got connectivity. Your Wi-Fi signal might look strong and your built in network troubleshooting might not be reporting an issue, but sometimes the only way to really tell is to get your hands dirty and try it out. Once you’ve determined the connection, run a few speed tests.
Next, make sure that you’re logged in to the appropriate account and service, and have someone do a test call to you from a third account. If that works, double check that your incoming call is being directed to you—your extension, username, or other identifier, correctly.
2. The Eerie Echo and the Blurry-Like-Bigfoot Video
We’re combining these two spooky occurrences because the troubleshooting overlaps quite a bit. First things first: equipment. Is it your camera, microphone, or both? It’s always a good idea to have secondary equipment on hand, if for no other reason than to rule these issues out (or solve them!) quickly.
Touchy audio and video teleconferencing problems are most often caused by bandwidth issues, all else being equal. The good news is that these issues are relatively simple to solve, since many of the problems associated are caused by vendors wanting to show off their software’s maximum’s performance. Sounds good, right? Right—unless the network can’t handle it. Head into the default settings and see what the max bandwidth is set to—if you’re seeing big numbers like 1920 kbps, that may very well be where your problem lies. You’ll want to lower the bandwidth.
Wait, what? Yep, we said lower it. Here’s why: higher bandwidths (assuming they’re incompatible with your network) lead to more packet loss, so actually lowering the bandwidth a level or two means fewer lost packets and less chance of feeling like your video call is a found-footage Halloween flick.
3. The Case of the Unsolved Background Noise
Here’s one that seems to crop up on every call with more than a few participants. You’re rolling right through the weekly talking points when suddenly—a toilet flushes. A dog barks. A baby cries. This is less a technical issue than simple human error: someone’s forgotten to mute their microphone. Instead of asking who it is, simply tell everyone to un-mute and re-mute their mics—otherwise, your culprit might be in denial and simply assume that it’s someone else.
If your background noise is of a different nature, like hearing static when the person who’s supposed to be speaking talks, it’s probably an equipment issue on the speaker’s end. Always have a spare mic at the ready!
4. The Invisible Visitor
There are those calls where everything seems to work perfectly except… there’s no video. The first step here, of course, is to check your call settings, both on the caller’s end (they’ve enabled video) and yours (you’ve opted to receive it). You’ll also want to check equipment. But if all else fails, this scary setback can usually be solved with the time honored IT tradition of turning it off, and turning it on again. You can try redialing, or just restarting the program first, but more often than not, heading straight to a full reboot is the most efficient way to scare off this creepy web conferencing ghoul!
If you’re having frequent problems with your video conferencing software, it might be worth checking to see if you’re up to date. Out of date software, whether it’s an older version or a vendor that’s no longer on the cutting edge, can cause problems that are more costly than an upgrade. Our guide to video conferencing software options is a great way to compare different vendors’ offerings to choose the software solution that fits your needs.