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New bottom tool barOver the past few months, we’ve been taking into consideration how our clients use our video conferencing technology, especially on the new Meeting Room where most of the magic happens! Through research, planning and diligently reaching out to clients, we’ve been assessing what we can do in the back-end to improve the customer in-call experience in the front-end.

Based on current trends, how clients are using the current technology, and how we see video conferencing shaping over the coming year, here’s what we’ve done to make FreeConference.com stand out and be a key player in the industry:

  1. New Toolbar Location
  2. A Dynamic Toolbar
  3. Better Access to Settings
  4. Updated Information Bar

By updating these functions, we’ve been able to improve the meeting room user experience and make it work more smoothly. Welcome to the updated FreeConference.com Meeting Room that is decluttered and easier to host and moderate meetings. Here’s what we’ve got in store for you:

upgraded bottom tool bar-min1. The New Toolbar Location

While researching to see how participants were navigating the Meeting Room, it became clear that the floating menu with key commands (mute, video, share, etc) wasn’t easily accessible because it was only seen when the mouse was moved on-screen or the display was tapped. Not being able to view the toolbar at all times was less of a help and more of a hindrance!
Now, the toolbar is stationary and visible at all times. There is no need to search the screen for the menu/toolbar. It’s permanently at the bottom of the page and will no longer disappear if the user becomes inactive. Users can enjoy this more intuitive and user-friendly approach to being able to view and click the toolbar at any time.

new upgraded tool bar2. A Dynamic Toolbar

Still keeping in line with a toolbar that works for you instead of you having to work for it, what was once two toolbars (one located at the top and one at the bottom of the screen) has now become just one toolbar at the bottom.

Participants will notice that all secondary features are neatly tucked away in the new overflow menu labeled “More.” This change in location offers instant control to the commands that are used more frequently and to neatly “put away” commands that aren’t used as much like Meeting details and Connection.

The most important controls – audio, view and leave – are made visible upfront and center so there’s no time lost hunting on screen for an important function. Intuitively designed, the participant list and chat buttons are also located on the right, whereas everything else is on the left.

Another addition includes the instant resizing of the menu that dynamically snaps to fit the device it’s being viewed on. On mobile, the important commands will be viewed first with the buttons and remaining commands pushed up into the overflow menu.

Audio options3. Better Access to Settings

Looking to make your experience more customized? We’ve recreated the user navigation to accommodate what you need and have it readily accessible to you when you need it, like when you need to sync your headset to Bluetooth on your laptop or have to adjust the settings on your camera for optimized viewing. Settings like Bluetooth or switching from the built-in to external camera are quick to click.

Changing your virtual background or accessing the camera icon to verify which device is being used is also painless. No need to click, dropdown, and search for minutes to find it. It’s all there for you to see on the page.

Need to troubleshoot? It only takes mere seconds and fewer clicks. Just click the chevron next to the mic or camera icons. All settings can be reached via the ellipsis menu.

4. Updated Information Bar

To make it easier for current clients and more appealing for guests coming in from other services, the view change (Gallery View and Speaker Spotlight) and full-screen buttons have been brought up to the top right of the information bar. At the top left, the timer, participant count, and recording notification have remained in place. This information bar now remains static.

meeting information button

Furthermore, participants can click the New Info button where they can easily see the meeting details. This information can also be accessed from the bottom menu bar.

FreeConference.com is proud to offer these updated functions and bring clients the best user navigation and experience possible. As a result, we’ve been able to declutter the page and make it more visually appealing and intuitive to use. With more commonly used commands available upfront and less used commands accessible via the overflow menu, plus settings that are only a few clicks away, participants can expect a high-quality calling experience that mirrors today’s current video conferencing trends.

Ready to sign up and try it for free? Sign up here or upgrade to a paid plan here.

White brick background with art hung on wall, and analog clock, plus plants and a desk with a vase, more plants, books and a paperweightNow that a lot of us are at home using video conferencing to connect with everyone from the office plus family and friends, we’ve gotten pretty used to having to work from different locations. Maybe you’re set up at your kitchen table, or you’ve moved things around to accommodate an at-home office. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to lounge by the pool with your laptop!

For those of us who’ve had to figure out ways to make working from home work, it’s all too common that your space gets cluttered, or looks messy. Save time, and money while spicing up your everyday backdrop – try a virtual background. Especially if you’re looking to come across as put together, adding a Zoom custom background helps keep the meeting distraction-free.

So if you don’t have a pretty place to work or your family or roommate needs to walk around in the back, don’t stress. Here’s how to use and change up your Zoom background. The best part? It’s easy and there are plenty of appealing options to choose from.

How To Change Your Zoom Custom Background

Before a meeting:

  1. On your Mac or Windows computer, download the Zoom Desktop Client.
  2. Log into your Zoom account.
  3. Select the gear icon at the top right-hand corner to navigate settings.
  4. Look to the left menu. Select Virtual Background.
  5. Choose a Zoom background or select the “+” icon to upload and use your own image.

Changing Zoom background during a meeting:

  1. Click the “^” arrow next to Stop Video.
  2. To swap or turn off your Zoom background, Click “Choose Virtual Background”

Zoom comes loaded with options to choose from and gives you the option to upload your very own background, like your brand or business’ logo and proprietary colors. Depending on your mood, the nature of your meeting, and the type of work you’re doing, there’s a perfect virtual background for you.

Here’s the thing though; While Zoom might be at your top-of-mind awareness for web conferencing needs, there are many other hard-working Zoom alternatives on the market that pack just as much punch and come with sophisticated features like custom meeting backgrounds to make your business stand out.

Two in-situ templates of smiling woman using FreeConference.com geometric and plain virtual backgroundsTry FreeConference.com for professional background images for your virtual meetings. Start your free video or voice conference call, share your screen or create a meeting room – for free! No credit cards are required, no contracts, and no extra equipment. FreeConference.com offers high-quality conference call service at no extra charge. You can host or join a free conference call with up to 100 participants, create a free online meeting room for webinars and presentations and use free screen sharing and free video and audio calls with your colleagues, clients, family, and friends.

Plus, FreeConference.com comes with industry-leading features and technology for your free conference call – virtual backgrounds included!

With FreeConference.com, it’s just as easy to find, select and use a default background or upload your very own. Here’s how to change your FreeConference.com virtual background:

  1. Start your meeting
  2. Select the cog icon “Settings” from the right side menu
  3. Select the Virtual Background tab
  4. Select one of the following:
    1. To upload a background
    2. Blurr your current background
    3. Select a default option
    4. None

n-situ smiling woman using FreeConference.com geometric background in video chat with two more virtual background options behind the firstUse a virtual background to blend in or get noticed during an online meeting. Choose a beautiful landscape or abstract shapes and designs; Or pull up your own background image to enhance the visual appeal or showcase your branding. Some of the dynamic and fun, professional-looking backgrounds include abstract glass, Denali mountainscape, houses in the sun, a stylish work office, waterfall rainbow or geometric.

If you’ve never tried a virtual background for your Zoom meeting, it’s really simple and so easy to get started! Try 1 or 10 different options from FreeConference.com right here:

Country house background-min

Country house background

 

Pretty books on bookshelves background-min

Country house background

 

Green plants background

 

Palm leafs with shadows background-min

Palm leaves with shadows background

 

Desert Window Background-min

Desert window background

 

Want more? You can upgrade your account to include all the free features like virtual meeting backgrounds plus more call and web participants, audio and video recording, audio and video transcription, high security, caller ID, custom hold music, YouTube Live Streaming, and so many others.

Let FreeConference.com help jazz up your online meetings and virtual social gatherings with an exciting variety of backgrounds. Pull up bold and inviting colors or exciting and dynamic images. Plus, with FreeConference.com, you can upgrade your services to include audio and video recording, YouTube Live Streaming, Annotation, and tons more!

Close-up view of hands holding a smartphone with recording screen zoomed in on man playing guitar at desk with laptopIf you want to make your video an interactive experience that invites participation and engagement from your audience, then broadcasting to YouTube is the way to draw a crowd. This gives your following another way to join your live video conference. It opens up viewability because anyone can tune in live now or record and save to watch later. Choose to make your YouTube video conference call private or public depending on the nature of the content and who’s viewing it.

Here’s how to broadcast a live video conference on YouTube Live with FreeConference.com (more details here), and below, are tips on how to use YouTube Live:

STEP #1: Linking to your YouTube Account

Enable Live Streaming:

View of man in living room, speaking and interacting with smartphone held at arm’s length whiles gesticulating and pointing fingerAdd your YouTube streaming details to your account:

(Note: From time to time YouTube will update these settings, so it is suggested that you confirm these details before each live streaming event.)

STEP #2: Share your live stream link with participants

STEP #3A: AUTO LIVE-STREAM

STEP #3B: MANUAL LIVE-STREAM (This feature is only available to a moderator)

A Few Tips For Your Live Stream Conference Call

Get off to a good start by implementing the following steps to ensure everything is in place for a smooth and successful live video conference call on YouTube:

  1. Get Set Up For Success
    What’s your goal from going live on Youtube? What do you hope to achieve? Is it to include more viewers, expand your online presence, add to your communication and marketing mix? Promote or demo a product? Take viewers on a tour of the site?From there, you can work out the live stream setup. If you’re a team, you will have to delegate roles to each member. Will you need a host? Can you use a tripod for the camera or do you need someone to manage it?
  2. Figure Out Timing
    It will be impossible to please everyone, but depending on the size of your group and who’s participating, you can cater to many! When deciding a date and time for your live conference, if no one can see eye to eye or if your reach is very broad, try consulting YouTube Analytics to see what time your videos get the most views.Still don’t know? First YouTube conference call ever? No sweat. Pick a time that suits the majority of participants. A YouTube live conference call can be recorded too. If there are people who can’t attend, they can catch it later.Just make sure to schedule your live video conference in advance so that you can promote it and give people the chance to lock it into their calendars.
  3. Test And Check
    View of man holding tablet on lap while reclined on couch, looking through YouTube videosAvoid snafus and failures by checking you have everything ready before you go live:

    1. Remove distractions and busy backgrounds.
    2. Adjust the lighting so you can appear well lit and not dimmed or shadowy.
    3. Find a quiet space free of background noise. Check your mic to ensure it’s up and running and smooth-sounding.
    4. Test your connection and network diagnostics.
    5. Check batteries and have a power supply nearby.
    6. Turn off your phone, notifications, and ringers.
    7. Shut down unnecessary tabs and clean up your desktop for easy access to files, especially if you might be screen sharing!
  4. Engage The Audience
    Whether a conference, online meeting, seminar, live series, or any other format, keeping your audience engaged is key.

    1. Remember: People will jump into different parts of your live video conference. Share a quick recap or if you have a guest speaker, mention their name and specialty.
    2. Try getting viewers to make it all the way to the end. Reveal something that will have them watching from start to finish. Save the special announcement, the good news or a piece of important information as the final word.
    3. Use Text Chat or Live Chat for people to chat on the side, ask questions or gain clarity.

With FreeConference.com, you can wow your audience by live streaming to YouTube easily. Seamlessly connect your FreeConference meeting to a YouTube Live Stream, broadcast live to various channels in just one take, and give your following multiple ways to join. Sign up for free here or upgrade to a paid account here.

Webcam’s view of a young stylish woman working on her laptop and looking at her screen working from a table in the kitchen.Before jumping into any online meeting, you’re going to want to make sure everything is in working order, especially your webcam. More and more, it’s expected that participants turn on their cameras to participate in the meeting. Why? Seeing each other’s faces forges a better human connection. It’s helpful to put a face to the name if there are people you haven’t met and if you can’t meet in person, well, video chat is the perfect placeholder!

Whether you’re hosting or participating, you want to leave a good impression and that means your face should be coming through clearly without disruption or delay. Are you using a standalone camera or embedded? It totally depends on your device and while most mobile devices (like smartphones, tablets, and laptops) come with embedded cameras, standalone is still commonly used.

Here are a few ways to test your webcam before a meeting, plus some troubleshooting tips.

Typically, stand-alone webcams are pretty pain-free. They are designed to be effortless by simply being plugged in and played, and turned on and turned off. Issues aren’t common, but in the case of a problem, consider the following common possibilities:

Close-up, angled view of standalone web camera attached to the top of laptopOnce you’ve ruled out all of the above methods, you can jump online to find a site that will help you sort through your technology. Most video conferencing software comes with its own test (and with FreeConference.com you get an all-in-one diagnostic test that checks more than just your video!), but if you want to make sure that the camera itself (external or embedded) is fully functioning, then try the following options:

How to Test Your Webcam Online

Connected to the internet? Good! From here, you can search “online mic tester” to come up with a few sites that give you a fast and easy way to check your camra. Usually, all you have to do is open the page and click “play.” You will receive a prompt that asks you for permission to use our camera. Click allow, and you will be able to see a live preview.

How to Test Your Webcam Offline on Mac

This is a great hack that most operating systems on laptops come with:

  1. Click on the Finder icon.
  2. Click on Applications from the list on the far left-hand side.
  3. In the Applications folder, look for Photo Booth. This will pull up your web camera’s feed.
    1. If you have an external webcam, look at Photo Booth’s drop-down, drag your cursor to the menu bar towards the top of the screen and click Camera.

How to Test Your Webcam on Windows

Over-the-shoulder view of man chatting with happy woman waving on-screen of laptopWindows has a camera program that can be opened up using the Start menu. Your external or embedded camera can be accessed from here and opened up for further investigation. The camera app also comes loaded with settings and controls for navigating how your camera works. Look to the Settings option on the bottom left window

For Windows 10, open the Cortana search bar on the taskbar then type Camera into the search box. You will be asked permission to access the webcam. From there, you will be able to see the camera’s feed.

How to Test Your Webcam With FreeConference

While all the above are excellent for testing your webcam, FreeConference has a Call Diagnostic Test that allows you to run through all your gear in your video conferencing platform. You don’t need to venture anywhere else, everything is conveniently located in one place. FreeConference.com tests your microphone, audio playback, connection speed, and video before your meeting. Just one click of a button and all your tech is checked for a frictionless experience in your online meeting.

With FreeConference.com, you can feel confident entering any meeting knowing your video conferencing technology is top-notch. You cover the hardware, and FreeConference has you covered for the software. Browser-based technology ensures your connection is fast, easy, and seamless.

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