We’re sure you’ve spent what feels like countless hours in conference calls on platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp during the Covid-19 lockdown. Each platform has its own benefits and disadvantages.
We recently added experience of a new (to us!) platform for conference calls, thanks to Durham Business Club. Remo (remo.co) is live video sharing software which runs in your web browsers, and allows attendees to join an event as part of a “table” of delegates.
Here’s our introductory guide for Remo conference calls.
Conference call etiquette
Before we get in to the details of using Remo, let’s refresh our minds on some basic conference call etiquette. These rules help ensure all participants can hear – and have a chance to respond to – participants’ questions during the video call.
- Set up early! It’s worth setting up to join your video call earlier, to give you time to solve any technical issues before the meeting starts.
- Speak more slowly than you would do face-to-face. Not all audio connections are crystal clear, and this extra time helps to give your audience understand what you’ve said.
- Leave a gap at the end of each sentence or phrase. This allows for a little delay for those listening to interject with questions or queries.
- Mute your microphone if you’re not speaking. Particularly helpful for larger groups of people in video calls, muting your microphone if you’re not speaking helps to cut down on background noise and distortion – particularly if you have children or pets in the background!
The conference hall
The “conference hall” is where you first appear when you join a Remo call. You’re assigned to a “table” when you join the call; these tables provide a smaller group to talk in. Below is an example of a table with 6 delegates on “third table” – the other tables are empty:
You can join another table in Remo by double-clicking on a table with a free space.
If you have a smaller screen, you may not be able to see every table in the video call. You can scroll around the room by holding down your left mouse button and dragging the room.
The call bar
The call bar gives you options to interact and contribute during your video call. This appears at the bottom of your screen on laptops and desktop computers:
The Tile view allows you to focus on those in your table’s video chat. You can use the Back to map button (bottom left of the screen) to return to the room view and explore different tables:
The Cam On / Cam Off option allows you to disable or enable your own camera. The Mic On / Mic Off option allows you to disable or enable your own microphone.
The Chat option provides access to a group-wide messaging system – handy to share links, videos or telling other delegates you’re having issues with video or audio.
Share Screen allows you to share what’s on your screen with those on your table. The Whiteboard option provides a canvas for you to draw ideas and share them with your fellow video callers – we used it to play a quick game of noughts and crosses:
Announcements in Remo.co
Announcements allow the event hosts to take over your Remo.co video calls and present to all tables in the event. Multiple presenters can be given centre stage to present ideas and discuss topics of the organiser’s choice:
While the announcement is in progress, you can’t talk to other members on your table. You can Raise Your Hand under the More option (bottom right of the screen) which flags to the event host that you have a question for the group.
Troubleshooting Remo.co video calls
The most popular issue we came across was with camera or microphones not working: see this guide on Remo.co. Remo have their own in-depth help centre for other queries if you get stuck!
Questions & Answers with Remo
Having hosted our own test event, we later took part in a guided tour and Q&A session hosted by the Remo team, which was a useful way of experiencing the platform as an attendee alongside about 40 other people. It again worked really well as a networking tool (with some great conversations and new connections made!), and some of the key questions we had from our own event – not currently answered in the otherwise comprehensive help centre – were addressed.
What is the best combination of device and browser to use?
The Remo team recommends using the Chrome browser. They noted that the platform works well on laptops and phones (including Android and iOS), but does not function so well on tablets such as iPads at the moment.
Is there an option to have a waiting area before the event, so that attendees can get ready for when it starts?
No, attendees can only enter the room at the allotted start time. However, the Remo team pointed out that a useful tip for helping things run smoothly is to make sure attendees have created their free Remo account in advance of the event.
Some people who had already signed up for our test event, and went to it via the available link at the appropriate start time, got the “Save me a spot” message instead of “Join now”, and weren’t able to enter. Correcting the time on the laptop seemed to fix this. Is this a known glitch?
No, Remo hadn’t come across this particular scenario before. Rather, when you get the “Save me a spot” message to an event you have already signed up for, the most common reason will be that you have signed into the platform with a different email address – perhaps using the “Sign In With Google” link – rather than the email address and password that you used when creating your Remo account. Log out, and sign back in with the correct details.
Can the Remo room be set up with, for example, a smaller number of tables for more intimate gatherings?
No, changing the room layout isn’t something that is currently available, unless you were to commission Remo to create a custom theme (at a cost, obviously).
Audio and video sometimes cut out when having a conversation around a table. What’s the best way to fix this?
Again, the Remo team recommend using Chrome to minimise video or audio issues during an event. If there is a glitch, switching to a different table and back again usually fixes it. If that fails, try refreshing the browser.
The 14-day free trial features the $150/month Director version by default. Is there a way to instead trial the cheaper Host version ($50/month), to get a more realistic idea of the product that you might actually end up subscribing to?
No, this is not available, unfortunately. The Remo team pointed out that, from an attendee point of view, the experience of participating in an event on the Director platform is very similar to what they will see on a Host platform, except that the room is smaller (maximum 50 attendees instead of 200), there are four (not six) people per table, and the length of any event is capped at 1.25 hours. If a customer wants to subscribe to the Host version, they only have to sign up for a month at a time, so can cancel after the first month (or upgrade to a better package) if they decide it doesn’t meet their needs.
As an event organiser, one of the issues currently is that anyone who has the event URL can enter that event, whether or not they are invited. This works for open events, but not for events that are being monetised, or that need to be restricted to a specific audience. Is this situation being addressed?
Yes, it is. Password-protected events are being rolled out from next week (week commencing 20 April). The event host can also eject anyone from any event if necessary.
Thanks to Alison of Durham Business Group, Graham of CannyInsights.com, Phil of Strike While The Iron’s Hot, John of NBSL, and Lynn for their permission to share images including them! Special thanks again to Graham for the Q and A content from Remo.