How To

Tips to optimize your next video call

Amber Sass


The holidays are fast approaching. Unfortunately, not everyone has the option to visit their loved ones during this time. Long-distance calls can get expensive, especially if you have a lot of people with whom to connect. As a consequence, people are increasingly turning to free video chat programs like Skype to call their loved ones on special occasions.

For those who are new to video calling, here are some simple tips you can implement to improve the quality of your call.

Sound Quality:

If you hear your voice echoing or repeating what you’ve already said over the feed, there’s an easy way to fix this. Usually what’s happening is the receiving computer on your loved one’s end is bouncing your voice back to your own PC. Wearing headphones during your call is a quick and easy way to fix any echo or voice repetition difficulties you’re having. Virtually any set of headphones will do, so there’s no need to go out and spend lots of money on a professional headset, by any means.

Picture Quality:

This issue is more multi-faceted. Consequently, there are several ways you can improve the picture quality of your video calls, even if you have a relatively basic or inexpensive webcam.

First, make sure the room in which your call is taking place is well-lit. If you use your computer monitor as one of your only sources of light, prepare for friends and family to be able to tell you exactly what color your desktop wallpaper is. If your room is not adequately lit, that particular hue will emanate across the screen — and across your face, as well! Using something as simple as a nearby desk lamp will also shift the focus from your background surroundings to the person you want your loved ones looking at anyway: you.

You can also help soften the light in the room simply by turning your desk lamp away from you and reflecting it off a nearby wall. This technique’s success depends entirely on how close your desk is to the wall, as well as how bright your light source happens to be.

Another great technique if you wear eye glasses and are having problems with light reflecting off your lenses is to lower your monitor’s brightness and contrast. The reason  you’re having reflection problems is because your monitor is too bright.  On many desktop PCs, this can be done with a button on the actual computer screen with relative ease.

Lastly, if the colors on your screen seem to be overly bright or the wrong hue entirely, consider wearing a white shirt to balance the color. Often people will have problems with their facing appearing too red. This occurs because your webcam is trying to find the brightest object on the screen and balance everything else around it accordingly. You can nix the problem immediately by simply providing that bright patch for it by way of a white shirt.

There you have it. Simple to implement, you can even try some of these techniques before you make any calls and see what combination works best for you. Have any other tried and true tips to optimize your video call experience? Let us know in the comments below.

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