Tips for Productive and Comfortable Video Sessions
Find Space and Time
Especially before the first session, start preparing at least half an hour ahead, so you can start on schedule and be fully present without feeling rushed.
Choose a private space where you can speak freely and not be overheard, interrupted, or distracted. As a last resort, you may even connect from your parked car in a garage or private area.
If there are others nearby, let them know you will be in a private meeting, and ask them to take care of themselves and any pets, deliveries, etc.
Sound is Important
If you are in different locations from each other, you will of course each be using your own device. In that case, please use earbuds or headphones with a mic. That will reduce echo and muting problems, as well as increase your sense of privacy.
If the two of you are in the same location, sharing one device is simplest. Even then, having two sets of earbuds or headphones would be ideal, by using a headphone splitter adapter. If necessary, you will have to use the device’s internal speaker and mic.
If you don’t have a big-screen device to share, you may still each join the meeting with your own phones, to have your own screen and your own camera. However, if you are going to remain in the same room, mute the mic and speaker from one of the phones to prevent delay and feedback problems.
If you have an external mic, use that and keep it near you. (On some devices, it may be possible for you to use the external mic from earbuds while still using the speaker so you can both hear.)
Positioning your Device
Don’t have a bright light source (e.g. a window) directly behind you. Light should come from in front of you (behind your device) or beside you.
If possible, use a device with a big screen (desktop monitor.)
If you must use a portable device, have it safely propped up and supported so you do not need to hold it. A large box or stack of big books is better than pillows for this. The ideal height would be about shoulder level.
If using an external webcam, mount it directly above the screen.
Sit close enough to the camera that only the top portion of your body is visible, without a lot of empty space above. We need to clearly see each other’s faces.
Sit close together, but be able to comfortably turn to face each other.
If using Wi-Fi, your network should be trusted and secured by password, not open access.
An ethernet connection to wired internet is more reliable than Wi-Fi.
As a last resort, mobile data (from your phone) may on occasion work better than Wi-Fi, though it can be expensive.
Unless your device and internet connection are very fast, stop or reduce other internet activity on your device and network (streaming, downloads, cloud backups, virus scans, background applications like Skype or Dropbox). Particularly, ask others to refrain from remote gaming or watching video.
Please close any distracting apps, windows or browser tabs (chat, news, social media).
Use the washroom.
You may want to have something to drink, a notebook and pen, and tissues handy.
Stop or minimize any background noise (tv, radio, fan, dishwasher, outdoor sounds)
Silence your phone.
Starting the Meeting
A few minutes before the appointment time, check in by clicking on the meeting link in the email you were sent.
You can confirm your audio and video is working there. Then wait for me to join the meeting.
We will take a few minutes at the start of every session to make sure everything technical is working. Feel free to mention any problems with the setup or the process, or ask me for help.
Use Speaker View (upper right corner of the video window) to enlarge the image of me to full screen and minimize your own image, so you can focus on our conversation without feeling self-conscious.
I will ask you if you would consent for me to record our video meeting. Recordings are very helpful by allowing me to focus on you without taking so many notes, as well as review my own performance. Recordings are kept private and secure, subject to the terms of our Client Service Agreement. Either of you may refuse or halt recordings or request their destruction at any time.
If this is a new location for our meeting, please give me your street address and phone number in case of emergency.
During the Meeting
You may speak at normal conversational volume without a raised or hushed voice.
If you notice that I look away from you, I am probably making a note or looking up a resource.
In video meetings, a person who is speaking continuously often cannot hear others because their speaker automatically mutes. This makes it hard for me to interject. Some people also find it hard to accept guidance from me, particularly when emotions are running high. I ask your permission to be able to interrupt you by raising my hand.
As we proceed, we will be doing less communicating of information, and you will be relating more to each other, face to face. We will be slowing down from normal conversational pace, to make moments for reflecting and allowing feelings to emerge or sink in.
If we decide that I will transition into a solo session with your partner, please respect their privacy by leaving the room and ensuring you cannot hear them.
Feel free to ask for a short break or attend to anything that is distracting or urgent, so that you can return in comfort and full focus.
If we completely loose connection for more than a minute or two, you may try to re-establish it by ending the video call and starting again. It may take a few minutes and a few tries. I will be working on my end to fix any problems.
If technical problems persist, I will stay in touch by texting you on your phone as we try to fix it. Sometimes extreme measures like rebooting devices or modems may be needed, and that would take several minutes.
Rest assured that our session will be extended or you will not be charged for any time needed to resolve technical problems.
Your patience is appreciated. It is worthwhile to spend time troubleshooting, even if our session must then be shortened or postponed, so that future sessions will be easier.