As someone who speaks at funerals for a living, I thought giving a speech via webcam would be straightforward. It isn’t.
If you're new to video conferencing, here are some tips and advice.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Try a Test Run
A test call to a friend or relative can identify any snags, problems or extra setup you need before it’s too late.
Check your Camera Lens
You can clean blurry laptop cameras with a dry microfibre cleaning cloth. If you have an external webcam, try using a can of compressed air to blast any dust away.
Invest in a microphone
For just a small sum of money; the purchase of a dedicated microphone will provide noticeable improvements in your clarity.
Wired always beats Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi may have come a long way over the years, but it can never equal the speed or reliability of a wired connection between your computer and router. If your computer has a RJ45 socket, you’ll only need a network cable. If it doesn’t, you’ll also need a USB-to-RJ45 adaptor
Put your notes on paper
Use paper rather than a tablet. Tablets are great, but paper is more reliable. Paper never runs out of battery, never runs updates during a call and is just as waterproof.
Autocue software is fine if you can use them, but take a level of concentration some might find distracting
Backgrounds can protect your privacy or be ‘just for fun’. They work better when you have a solid, plain, immobile background (such as a green screen).
Remember - on some platforms (Zoom included), your choice of background remains set between sessions. Any silly backgrounds you put up will remain next time you use it
Sunlight is best; it’s the right colour, is softer than artificial light, and casts softer shadows. Try sitting with your light source at around 45 degrees.
In daylight hours, a window bringing in natural sunlight is best. Unless you’re buying specialist equipment, your next best light source would be a desk lamp.
Adjust your seat or prop the camera on a few books until it’s at your eye level. People want to see your face, not the top of your head or nostrils.
What to wear
Go for plain items in neutral colours. Spots, stripes and other bold patterns don’t look their best on camera. Also, if you’re using a green screen; avoid that colour or the item will be replaced with background.
For makeup, you should focus on two areas:
Try to find the sweet spot where you’re close enough for viewers to read your facial expressions, yet far enough to see hand gestures.
Landscape, not portrait
While we tend to hold our mobile phones in portrait mode, when you’re video-conferencing use landscape. It’s closer to how we naturally see with two eyes.
Look at the camera when speaking
While talking, try to look at the camera rather than the screen. This sounds straightforward, but can take practice. We’re used to looking at the person (or image of them) we’re speaking to.
If you find this difficult, try to position the video of the person you’re speaking with as close to your camera as possible
Remember your facial expressions
When you’re staring into a camera lens, it’s easy to forget to smile.
Please check out my post on public speaking.
Had any web conferencing disasters?
Any of your own hints and advice?
Join me on a journey to learn more about the end of life, death, and funerals; all from a positive perspective. Every two weeks, a new post will explore this important life-stage; asking what we can learn from those going before us, and how we can apply that knowledge to better our lives.