With the new normal of working from home, many people are looking for a good video chat tool, or maybe a better one than what they're using now.

The Herald asked a number of tech industry insiders for their picks.

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Xero and Trade Me alumnus turned investor Rowan Simpson has a lot of experience with video conferencing.


It's one of the key tools he has to keep in touch with clients and others from his home in the Tasman District at the tip of the South Island.

"Today I have Slack, Google Meet and Zoom calls scheduled. Last week and over the weekend also Microsoft Teams, FaceTime and WhatsApp. They are all good," Simpson told the Herald.

"The best tool is the one you have already installed and tested. I wouldn't recommend switching," he added.

"If you're starting from scratch, then I'd recommend Zoom as that seems to have the smoothest setup for newbies."

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Ben Gracewood is chief engineering officer at Auckland-based point-of-sale software maker Vend, which now has several hundred staff working from home.

"We have a cloud-first business, and have never had servers in our offices or anything like that, so we've basically continued to use the same tools we always use, just more," he said.

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"Slack is our main form of real-time communication. We have hundreds of chat rooms where work gets done. The main change is that teams are doing virtual check-ins and check-outs each day to keep each other up to date on what work they're planning and what the completed."

Kimbal Riley, chief executive of movie theatre management and marketing software platform Vista, says his company has settled on Zoom for video chats.

Telstra chief risk officer Joanna Knox says her company has used a number of tools, including an inhouse system, Telstra Virtual Meeting Room and Cisco's Jabber. But over the past couple of weeks, Microsoft Teams has proved the most popular, in part because it's proved adept at handling varying quality of internet connection between participants.

Council for Civil Liberties chairman Thomas Beagle, whose day job is in high-end tech support, says "I use Zoom and Microsoft Teams and I'm constantly surprised by how good both of them are. Even if I'm just talking to someone, I prefer the quality over using my mobile phone."

Tips for better videochat

Riley says, "Think about what your background is." And lighting such as harsh sun. "You'll probably have to pull the curtains."

"Mute, mute, mute," says Vend's Gracewood


"Mute yourself before you wreck yourself.

"This is good for two reasons: 1. No background noise (when people complain of audio quality. It's almost certainly because of too much background noise from non-speakers) and 2: Un-muting is like raising your hand. Others see you un-mute then know you want to say something, so give you a gap."

Simpson says whatever video chat app you use, make sure you install the mobile version too, and learn how to use the function that lets you share what you have on-screen - such as a presentation on your laptop.

He also says many people make the mistake of looking at the thumbnail of themselves, which makes it seem as if they're looking off to the side. Look into the camera, and you'll be looking people in the eye.

In a similar vein, Beagle offers, "Move the video conferencing window on your screen as close as possible to your camera. This helps avoid the 'looking away' weirdness."