Dos and Don’ts in Web Conferencing

Two months after the shutdown of ETH Zurich, web conferencing in general and zoom in particular have become an integral part of the everyday life of ETH staff and students. And with the intensive use comes a routine that can be observed not only in the meetings themselves: digital backgrounds from all over the world replace the view into the rooms of the participants. Less and less time of a meeting is devoted to solving technical problems. Nevertheless, there are some points that can still be identified as disruptive factors.

How to optimize video conferences

  • Headsets are strongly recommended, the renunciation of them may disturb the meeting as a whole without the person concerned noticing.
  • When using a headset, its functionality should be tested beforehand, the relevant programs offer a feature for this (test meeting or audio setup).
  • The microphone should always be muted when participants are not speaking.
  • Participation with a mobile phone is only recommended in an emergency, as the quality can be significantly worse, which has an impact on the meeting as a whole.
  • The background should be acoustically and visually quiet, avoid windows and deep rooms. The digital background is not always suitable and may even be disturbing due to technical artifacts.
  • The chat can be used to communicate parallel to the actual content – but can also be distracting the other way round. Here the host or the participants should agree on a common procedure.
  • Anyone who experiences quality losses in audio and/or video should first check (via chat) whether the problem exists for all participants. An individual problem with computer or bandwidth can be solved by switching off the video, if possible.
  • Host and/or participants should agree whether to work with or without video; exceptions should be possible but briefly explained (chat).
  • More information on Zoom netiquette and the responsibilities of a host in particular can be found on the “Educational Development and Technology Blog” by the LET.

These and other notes can also be found in the documentation for Zoom: FAQ


Olaf A. Schulte and David Ryffel, ITS Multimedia Services, IT Services

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