Working remotely makes understanding video chat programs more important than ever in day-to-day life. However, almost all of these programs, from Microsoft Teams to Zoom to Skype, have a few basic things in common that you can learn in no time at all. 

High-speed needs are common for video chats, requiring a high amount of internet speed and bandwidth, so try your best to have your chat as close to your router as possible. If your router is on the opposite side and floor of where you’re taking the call, for example, it’s more likely to cause connection issues. 

Microphones and cameras are used by just about every program; this ability is what sets them apart from a standard phone meeting. There is typically a button that can be clicked to turn your microphone on or off: it almost always looks like a radio microphone. There will also be a button that can be clicked to turn your camera on or off  it almost always looks like a small movie camera or projector: When you enter a video chat, some programs automatically mute your microphone and camera and you’ll have to click them on. For others, you’ll begin the call with a screen where you can test your microphone and camera before entering the meeting. 

Chat boxes are a way for those in the meeting to make comments for discussion without speaking. They’re often accessed by a button that looks like a small speech bubble: By clicking on this button, part of the screen shows a space where text can be entered and sent to the chat. You’ll also usually be able to click other texts that appear in the chat to reply to them or react with symbols and emojis.

Screen-sharing is useful for participants to show others what is on their internet browser or computer. The button that allows screensharing often looks like a small rectangle or computer with an arrow pointing upwards:. When clicked, you’ll be given the option of showing your whole screen or specific windows or programs you have on. 

Leaving the meeting is done using a red button, almost always with a telephone icon in the middle. By clicking on this, you’ll exit the meeting you are in. This can also be accomplished by exiting the program itself. 

If you are nervous about using a program for the first time, especially for a job interview, try testing the link first to make sure you are ready to go the day of. You can even do a practice run with a friend or colleague to make sure all of your equipment is working.

Video chat programs have some differences in name, colour, or purposebut knowing these essential components will make sure you’re able to master any one that hosts your next meeting!