The world has changed dramatically over the last few weeks and even the use of the word ‘unprecedented’ has reached, well, unprecedented levels. Exactly two years ago Professor Robert Kelly was being interviewed by BBC news, when his children entered the room during his online video call. The happening caused a sensation at the time and the clip of this moment caught on camera attracted 38 million views on YouTube. This sensation now looks more like daily life for many of us.
We have transitioned working life from our office environments, to our home environments, usually our place of rest, leisure and sanctuary, so a few bumps are to be expected. This transition has been enabled by technology, but like all technology, it requires a little getting used to and some new skills to be developed.
As everyone is in the same boat, I have noticed a great tolerance amongst digital audiences for making allowances when things don’t quite go as planned; the visuals are not as finessed as the professional world might usually expect, the audio is not as clear as we might like or our Tesco delivery arrives at the front door. But whilst some of these impediments can be pinned on the new ethereal scapegoat – our internet speeds- there are things we can do to make our online presentation feel professional and thought about, showing those we talk to that we care and making our connected communications feel a little more connected. Our quick-fire guide below may help.
- If you have an important video call you may need to ‘pre-book’ some dedicated internet time with your household! If everyone else is watching video at full resolution, downloading files or gaming, your connection may suffer when you really need it to perform.
- Upload bandwidth is particularly important to protect, as it will affect how you are seen by the others in your presentation; you can be blissfully unaware that you are sending out poor quality video and sound. Gaming and file sharing are your main competitors for upload speed!
- If you have the option, use a cabled connection direct in to your router via a network cable, it is far faster than wifi.
- Set your stage! Do have a few personal things in the room to make sure it doesn’t feel sterile, but don’t have too much clutter, and no-one wants to see yesterday’s pants on the table!
- Try to sit with any natural light coming at you and from behind the camera so your face is lit, avoid mixing natural and artificial light sources as the light colours look very different on camera.
- Avoid having a door in frame, as unwitting visitors are most likely to enter here!
- Keep still while on conference, no chair wiggling.
- Most people on a video call look at themselves! Whoever you are looking at, drag that window to sit just under your camera so that your eye line is best aligned with your camera.
- Talking of a stage, you need to perform as you would in a face to face presentation, by default you are in fact likely to be perceived as being more uninterested when listening online, than when in person.
- So look interested! But don’t audibly ‘mmmm’ your acknowledgement as this could take the mic to you whilst others talk, but do nod your head and smile lots.
- Make it easy for people to listen, put energy in to your speaking, vary your pitch, tone and pace. For great advice on speaking well, watch Julian Treasures ‘must see’ Ted Talk, linked below.
- If using your phone as the camera then use the main camera not the selfie camera, it is better quality. Position the camera securely: Lots of homemade solutions on YouTube.
- Get the camera to your eye line height as much as possible, maybe raising your device on some books. Looking up the nose should be reserved for dental visits (remember those?!)
- Choose a quiet room – sometimes cameras pick up sounds we don’t notice e.g. Next door’s rabid dog’s incessant barking.
- Test your speakers and microphone before you join.
- If your microphone is poor, it may be worth investing in a dedicated mic for your desk, or even using your phone’s combination headphone / microphone – try it.
- Mute yourself when not talking, allowing better audio for everyone.
The long haul:
- Try testing your presentation or video call arrangements on a friend or colleague to get their input on how you’re really coming across and how good your set up is; this period will go on for some time yet, so it is worth investing in this.
- Video call fatigue is a real thing and many of us are feeling it (watch the BBC article about video call fatigue, linked below). All the more reason to make sure our digital presentations are as frictionless as possible.
How LIQUONA can help:
As your number one Creative Moving Image Agency in sector, LIQUONA have a raft of services to help you present yourself better online.
Just one of these is Professional Streaming, meaning your annual conference needn’t be relegated to a zoom webinar from your bedroom!
Our live streaming services are a big step up from a video call. We professionally facilitate and broadcast all the presentations, panel discussions and content that you require, putting on a slick digital event for members.
Furthermore we offer a ‘secure the certainty’ deposit option: Pay a £500 deposit and we’ll fully dedicate our streaming studio and resources to the date of your event, whether our services are subsequently required or not. This means you can communicate to your members with confidence that their annual conference will be going ahead one way or another, whether online or at your venue as planned.
The LIQUONA team showing us all how it’s done on their company zoom meeting.
An excellent BBC article about video call fatigue https://bbc.in/357719w
Julian Treasure on how to talk: https://bit.ly/3aImaiG
LIQUONA’s moving image services: www.liquona.com/membership or reach out to [email protected]
Mark Stevens is Client Services Director at LIQUONA where he takes great delight in knowing his clients, and ensuring that they always receive outstanding creative content and the best customer service.
CIPHR.com brand film by LIQUONA
Liquona will be speaking at memcom interactive 1-5 June. Sign up for your free ticket here.