Quick tips to get your Webinars and Video conferences looking like they were produced by a multi-million dollar studio
Phone Conferences and Tele-Teaching
The organizer of the meeting is the host. They should begin with introducing who is in the room and who is on the phone. Hosts should establish the rules of the conference as to whether questions are asked at the end of the presentation or they will pause throughout and ask if there is a question on that section.
If you are going to speak, wait for a pause or verbal cue. Remember to address the host and state your name each time you wish to contribute. Then wait for the host to acknowledge you. This establishes who has the "floor" to all participants. End your contribution acknowledging you have completed your thought or question. "I think that process will be great for the group. Thank You."
Choosing a phone
Choose a phone with an easily accessible microphone mute button. If you are not the host, remember to mute your microphone when you are not speaking
The ideal conference call should take place indoors in a quiet area. But if you're on the run, you may have to dial into conference calls from a remote location with background noise. It's key that you relay this information to the parties you're talking to. If you fail to acknowledge the background noise, the people you're talking with may assume that something is wrong with their phone system, or the may think that you're being flat out disrespectful. By being upfront, you save everyone from scratching their heads.
Video Conference and Lecture Capture
Choosing a Space (Your Environment)
Minimize or eliminate interference: Avoid dogs, cats, children, spouses, siblings, or anything else moving behind you. Sometimes it’s cute, but it often derails a train of thought or undercuts a moment. To that end, try not to have a door behind you. If your office or room has a door you can close, consider adding a sign, or even a light, announcing when you are in meetings.
Not too personal, not too sterile: You should avoid a Web-call background that is too personal (dishes, dirty clothes, bed sheets), or too sterile and professional (an empty white wall). A bookcase or lightly adorned shelves work, as do houseplants.
More important than being seen is being heard—in meetings, audio problems are a much bigger obstacle to communication than video issues. Here are some ways to improve how you sound.
- Use an external microphone: Almost any plug-in device—a desktop USB mic, a USB headset or wireless headset, or the built-in microphone on our USB webcam pick—will sound better than the built-in microphone on a laptop. Just make sure your add-on mic is selected in your meeting software’s settings as the input source.
- Place your microphone 5 to 6 inches from your mouth: If you can’t get that close or don’t want to use a separate microphone, try to place your microphone in the path your voice normally projects during a meeting.
- Use headphones whenever possible: Although some laptops and software can automatically mute the microphone when other people are talking, they’re not perfect. Headphones will prevent feedback loops that result from your mic picking up other people speaking.
- Add fabrics to counter echo: If other people are hearing room echo on your calls, the most practical solution is adding fabric to the room to absorb sound. Area rugs, carpeting, drapes, and blinds are reasonable things to try before considering extreme measures like foam soundproofing.
Keep your webcam slightly above your eye level: Assuming you have your monitor set up ergonomically—with your gaze falling about 2 inches below the top edge of the screen—means you’ll be looking straight ahead at people on the call, which feels more like an in-person meeting. You should also shrink your video window for the call and move it to the top of your screen, near your webcam, to keep your gaze there.
Even with a good webcam, lighting is the trickiest part of setting up a home office or another room for a video chat. As with photography, it’s better to have the light source behind the camera, rather than behind the subject, but nobody wants to put their computer in front of their window. Here are some easy ways to improve your lighting.
- Make use of lamps: You can angle and redirect LED desk lamps, and they have multiple brightness levels and color temperatures. Bouncing the lamp light off a nearby wall rather than pointing it straight at your face.
- Try not to mix light sources: Natural light is great for an office space, but for the light that’s reaching your face, stick to either a lamp setup or a window slightly off to your side—not both.
- Don’t use venetian blinds behind you: The light streaming in through the slats will wreak havoc on many a camera’s automatic light adjustments. Better to use blackout shades or curtains, and to bring in other light (lamps).
- Don’t buy specialty YouTube/vlogger gear: Nobody should buy a "softbox" just to impress their boss. Put your lighting at your eye height. Defining your eyes allows you to express more on video, to seem more like yourself. That makes a video call feel more like an in-person meeting, which is as good as a Web meeting can get.
Minimize Computer Disruptions
Close competing applications: When preparing for a meeting, make sure your notifications for other applications and pop-ups are turned off. Nobody wants to hear your email "ding" or notification popup over your presentation.
Do: Mute your microphone whenever you’re not speaking -- even if you’re alone in the room. Background noise can be an annoying distraction and stifle any meeting’s flow.
Do: Be aware of your video settings. Check if your microphone is muted before delivering a two-minute monologue that no one will hear.
Don’t: Position your camera too low, too high or hooked onto a different monitor. Weird camera angles can be very distracting -- and unflattering -- during video conference calls. Make sure your camera is eye level and on the monitor you plan to use for the conference.
Do: Make sure your room is well lit (side lighting is the best). Few things are worse than having a professional meeting while feeling like you're talking to someone in a dungeon. Use natural light from windows or simply turn on the overhead light in the room to brighten up the conference.
Do: Wear appropriate clothing. I know it can be tempting — especially if you work from home — to wear a work shirt and athletic shorts but dress as if you're meeting face to face. You never know if you're going to have to get up suddenly or if your camera might fall. So wear clean, professional clothing for your video calls.
Do: Your wall art or decorations should be work-appropriate and your surroundings clean. If your room looks like a college dorm room after a bender, clean it or find a different room. This also includes your desk! Avoid having multiple coffee mugs, dishes and trash on the surface.
Do: Test your microphone before you video call, especially if it's an important meeting. Test it by video conferencing your colleague before the meeting. Nothing is worse than trying to share something critical, and not being able to communicate clearly because your audio clarity and volume are poor.
Do: If you're in a group call without video, introduce yourself before you talk. Consider something like "Hi it’s Jim, I have a question.” While several programs will notify you as to who is talking, conference line numbers will not. Therefore, be polite and introduce yourself.
Don’t: Check or read emails or peruse articles while on the video call. This also includes doing additional work beyond the call. It’s easy for other participant’s to tell if you aren't fully focused and present during the video call.
Do: When you're talking, look into the camera instead of looking at yourself talking on the computer screen. It will help others on the call feel like you're 100 percent engaged and present.
It’s important to remember that video conferences are essentially in-person interactions that allow the College to communicate more effectively.