Live From Your Laptop! It’s Videoconferencing

By Brandon Vogel

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Working from home does not come with a formal dress code but you may have noticed your colleagues have dressed up more as the coronavirus rages on.

A potential reason? Videoconferencing has taken over the world.

With so many lawyers working remotely and needing to connect with clients and colleagues, videoconferencing services, like Zoom, Skype and Facetime, have allowed members to stay engaged and keep up with CLE credits and meet with their sections and committees.

Notably, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order authorizing notarial acts to be performed utilizing audio-video technology. Power of attorney forms can now be executed via videoconferencing with the attorney, client and two witnesses.

As the use of videoconferencing has increased, so have questions. Here’s what you need to know:

Do I need a webcam?

No, but you are encouraged to use it if you have one. Your smartphone/tablet or laptop have a built-in microphone/camera but your desktop likely does not. A webcam can be purchased separately although they are in high demand along with laptops.

Can I call instead of being on camera?

Yes, in most cases, you can dial in from a landline or mobile number if you prefer not to be on camera.

Is videoconferencing secure?

If you are scheduling a videoconference meeting, it is recommended that you have a meeting password to protect your guests. This extra step can prevent outside parties from joining. Likewise, you should utilize encryption if offered or enable a waiting room where the host will approve all attendees once they have signed in. Lock your meeting once everyone has been verified.

Is my videoconference going to be recorded?

Most videoconferences are automatically recorded to the cloud so remember the Golden Rule of the Digital Age: speak and act as if you are going to be recorded; email as if it will be read aloud in a deposition. Make sure that your guests are aware if your meeting is being recorded.

Can I videoconference from my devices?

Skype, Zoom and Cisco Webex can all be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store. Facetime remains an Apple exclusive but you can use Google Duo to interact with Android users if using an Apple product.

Are there costs involved?

Skype is free to download as is Google Duo. Zoom and Cisco Webex have free plans available for basic use as an end user; meetings will have a 40-minute time limit. Most Pro Accounts start at about $13-$14 per month.

Will I be able to speak?

It depends. If you are on a NYSBA CLE webinar as an attendee, you will automatically be muted. If you are on a NYSBA section or committee meeting, you will likely be able to speak but consider muting your line when not speaking.

Can I share my screen?

Yes if the host agrees. Consider sharing the individual program, like Powerpoint or Adobe Acrobat, instead of your full screen to prevent other guests from seeing email notices pop up or anything else on your screen.

Other tips?

Tilt your laptop to improve how your face appears in the videoconference view. Make sure your microphone and speakers are both enabled on your laptop to use computer audio. For optimal performance, close as many applications and windows as possible. It will keep your laptop from overheating and your videoconference running smoothly.

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