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Everything You Should Know About The Difference Between Hosting And Joining A Video Call

Let’s talk about the difference between Hosting and Joining a Video call.

Understanding this basic principal will impact your decision on Video Room hardware.

100% of my new customers appear not to understand the difference. Yep – that’s everyone.

I don’t mind explaining the basics when I meet someone needing a room hardware solution. This basic principal is easy to misunderstand unless you work in the AV/VC industry full time like I do.

If you are time poor –this is the main point. Don’t worry about what other people are using. In most cases, you can join a Video call as a guest using your mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop pc. In some cases, but not all, even your existing meeting room equipment will suit even if the other end is on a completely different software service.

Read on if you want to understand why. Let’s start by getting some basic terminology straight.

Hosts Vs Guests

When you join a video call as a participant, meaning that someone else sent you the meeting invitation, you are the GUEST. Even if that person works in the same company as you and they use the same video software as you.

The HOST is the person that has created the meeting.

This means that the video software solution THEY use is the one that you all meet on via their video bridge. Everyone else (internal to the company and also external to the company) are GUESTS. The Host can do MODERATOR functions like override participant audio and mute the far end, and depending on the service, lots of other nifty things. Guests can usually share content, be heard and seen etc however the video call itself is in the control of the HOST.


GUESTS are participants

GUESTS typically click on a meeting link sent by the meeting organiser (the HOST) and join using a web browser, or you download and install an app from their service provider first and then you join. After that you either join THEIR software service using one of their guest licenses (so not using your service at all), or it launches your software service if you use the same one as the HOST. Either way, you are still a GUEST. If you’re in a room with specific video conferencing equipment you may still be able to use that hardware on that call however not always, even if you’re a guest on their service.

How that actually happens is the dark art of Audio-visual/ Video conferencing software (known as interoperability) and that is the problem all the VC software and hardware manufacturers spend most of their time trying to overcome. Interoperability across all Video hardware and software combinations is the Holy Grail and it’s NOT THERE YET. There are ways to make that work however it’s just not natively built into components (if anyone remembers the Babel fish from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – then that’s what they are trying to make).


How this impacts Room Hardware

Room hardware refers to the cameras, input mics, output speakers and displays (such as monitors or projectors and screens). Let’s remember that the equipment in your room sends your picture and your voice to the far end.

The Hardware enables YOUR in-house video software to serve the room on a larger scale as opposed to your PC and its inbuilt camera and mics. In very oversimplified terms, the room hardware acts like a giant webcam with speakers using your video software as the HOST or their software as a GUEST.

NOW we understand that, what does this all actually mean?

Just because you have a corporate policy to use a specific platform (lets use ZOOM as the example) and you join as a guest to lots of meetings that are hosted on TEAMS, GoToMeeting, Webex, Lifesize, Starleaf, Bluejeans (or any of the other myriad of video software services) this means you should really prefer hardware that is optimised around ZOOM (in this instance).  This is because that’s what your company uses and that’s the service you will HOST meetings on and therefore you’d send out GUEST links from your software package.  Don’t worry about the ones you join as a guest.

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