With more people working from home and students connecting with teachers online, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of video conferencing platforms. How long this will prevail is not certain and to what extent this will become part of our everyday life is unclear.
Live streaming has gone mainstream
But one thing is for sure, we need to make sure that we present ourselves (and our kids too) in a professional manner. It may be that you are on a conference with your boss or a big client, or your child is one of 30 kids trying to follow along with a teacher conducting a remote lesson. Either way, we want to look presentable. It may seem tempting, but there is no need to go out and spend a lot of money on a fancy gear. You can improvise and still look professional without spending the kind of money the professionals do.
Necessity is the mother of invention
In this piece from 9to5Mac, the author takes us through some simple household items that can be used to improve your video stream environment. The goal is to provide a more pleasing and professional presentation to the viewers on the other end of your video stream.
The areas you will want to consider for your video conferencing set up are:
- Lighting. Is your area lit sufficiently and is it exposing you in the best light possible?
- Camera. Depending on age, the camera on your computer may not have the best resolution. Is the camera on your tablet or phone better? Use one of those instead of your computer if that is the case.
- Framing of your face. A camera that is too high or low gives an awkward and often unflattering image. If you do not have a stand that positions the camera so your face is framed, consider using a box or books. Even professional journalists, politicians and public speakers have been caught using books to prop up their laptops for optimal framing.
- Background. We can’t express enough how important it is to check what appears behind you. Are you showing too much of your personal life? Is your unmade bed behind you? Is the messy kiddie play area behind you? If the stuff behind you can not move, consider moving your workspace or pivoting your webcam. In many videoconferencing platforms you can also blur the background or use background images.
- Sound. Be careful if you use the built-in speakers of your computer as you may experience feedback. Test this and in the end you may be better off using bluetooth speakers or earbuds (my personal choice).
- Network connection. Nothing is quite as annoying as a video conference that lags because of network connection. This may be the time to switch to a hardwired connection rather than wi-fi. Also check to see how robust your internet plan is. You may need to bump up if you will have more than one person doing video conferencing at the same time, or a mix of conferencing, streaming music and/or videos. The more bandwidth you use at the same time, the more of a strain on resources.
Preparation is always helpful. Do some test runs prior to your video conferences and adjust accordingly. We have done that internally here at our home office from one end of the house to another – it may seem kind of goofy, but it feels better to be prepared, especially before a conference with an important client.
Need help with your home video conferencing setup?
If you’re newly working from home, a home-based business or helping your child with distance learning, we provide a number of helpful services. We can assist you with setting up remote access and video conferencing, as well as making sure your network is secure.