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Golden Nuggets of Excellence Online

Oct 28, 2020

How many of you really understand your video presence during an online session?

Since this pandemic has forced us to use online video platforms, many have adjusted the hard way, learning new ways to attend meetings, make presentations, and socialize. Can your audience see you easily? How’s my blush? Can you see that cowlick?  What do you sound like to others? Is your background drab or interesting? Your video presentation can be improved by considering some tips listed below. This article will concentrate on “golden nugget” tips of information to improve your visual footprint “on the air” in practical ways.

Let’s deal with some potential technical issues:
  1. When was the last time you cleaned your camera lens? We clean our glasses often. But we forget about our hard-working camera. Is that foggy or blurred image just build-up??
  2. Are your computer drivers up to date? There are free driver programs to ensure your computer runs at peak performance.
  3. Is all your computer software up to date? Operating systems are constantly being updated. Windows 10 usually receives updates on Tuesdays or Fridays. Mac or Linus systems have fewer updates to worry about.
  4. Audio and video components may need updated software peripherals as well. Many older computers like a 2012 HP Mini can have an inexpensive webcam or SLR digital camera hooked up to improve that granny 2 Mb camera image. Now the video can be broadcasted in High Definition 720p resolution.  
How is your video presentation overall? 
  1. Does your video background need a do-over? 
  2. What is your background & foreground light source set-up? 
  3. Will we see your messy or untidy office area? 
  4. Is there too much natural light coming in from nearby windows? With a neutral background such as a plain wall or green curtain, there are great downloads that work very well as a picture behind you.  
  5. Is your background distracting – for example a collection of clown dolls? 
  6. Search for backgrounds or use your own pictures downloaded to your video background imports. 
  7. Is there a light in front or above you to illuminate your head-shot for others to see you properly? The light should be behind or above the camera. Two LED desk lamps directed toward your face create uniform lighting on your face. Remember that round light set-up for singers on American Idol earlier this year?
  8. Are you centered in the viewing screen? Put yourself into the centre of the screen. 
  9. Are you broadcasting in portrait mode, from your smartphone or IPad? A sideways mount in landscape mode provides the best viewing scenario.
  10. Does your screen show your upper torso - preferably at chest height and up? This allows use of hand gestures visible on the screen.                                      
  11. Is your camera height at eye level? Your audience will perceive that you are looking directly into people’s eyes, instead of down or to the side computer monitor. 
  12. Are you aware that your face appearance has an enhanced setting? Notice at the bottom left of the screen using Zoom, there is a video setting that opens another menu window. Check off - Enhance my appearance. 
  13. While speaking, use some stickers around your camera to help you draw your focal attention to look at the camera more often.                                       
What is your audio broadcast like to your audience? Would you appreciate your audio sound heard by others? Here are some tips to consider:
  1. Listen to yourself when speaking. Try recording yourself speaking using your video platform. Is there an echo sound like you are in a cave that others hear? An audio feedback can force an audio mute by a Webex host trying to control background noises. 
  2. If your room is empty and uncarpeted, it can result in hollow, distracting sound. Carpeted rooms with soft furnishings tend to create the best audio during web conferences. Floor pillows in the room can reduce reverberation and create a warmer sound.
  3. Does your voice sound like you have marbles in your mouth? Your internet connection may be weak. A simple wifi signal extender or a new router could be the solution to your audio distortions.  
  4. Test out your audio beforehand. Check out audio performance, including microphone settings. An equalizer may enhance your voice sound. 
  5. Use earphone buds or a head-gear / microphone combination to deliver the best audio reception from your online experience. A wireless Bluetooth headset improves sound quality for you and your audience.
Here is a list of some best practices to observe while being online:
  1. If you are presenting, record a practice session beforehand. We are our own worst critic. 
  2. Silence your cell phone, or set to “Do Not Disturb”. 
  3. Are you muted when not speaking or just listening? 
  4. Test all technology (including camera/video, Wi-Fi, and screen sharing) before the meeting.
  5. Be aware of distracting habits such as hair-twirling, chin scratching or unnecessary multi-tasking? We can see you! Turn off your video to deal with any issues.
  6. Other distractions include background interruptions such as a pet or a run-away child.
  7. Dress properly like you are going to work. You will feel more comfortable. Shorts are acceptable attire in summer. Comb your hair in preparation for a presentation. 
  8. Add your meeting role title beside your name. This establishes your professional projection to your audience. 
  9. Use your laptop or desktop computer to join the video meeting, allowing you to easily take notes. A stable image is nearly impossible if you're holding your phone or trying to balance it on your desk. 
  10. When talking, direct your attention at the camera, not the monitor or screen. While watching someone's image is perfectly normal, looking at your camera appears like you're gazing directly into people’s eyes, creating a stronger connection. While subtle, it feels right to the audience. 
  11. Ensure your webcam is at eye level. Your image will look more natural as if you were both sitting across from each other at the same table. We've all been on calls where you're looking up the nose of the person on the other end. The easiest way to do this with a laptop is to simply raise it with a small platform or box.
We have covered many “golden nugget” tips to improve your online presence. Be known as someone who's digitally-savvy, current, and professional. Build a positive personal brand. These are qualities your clients, colleagues, and stakeholders will value whether meeting virtually or face-to-face. When online, remember to look at the camera as much as you can and keep on smiling!
 

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