Covid-19 brought a fairly new element to office life: Virtual meetings. Before the pandemic, many of us had never participated in a conference via Zoom, or FaceTime, or Teams, so it’s safe to say that we’ve been winging it thus far. Luckily, we’ve been given plenty of time to study and take notes for the perfect lighting, sound, and backgrounds so that you can have the best meeting possible.
- Use the sun to your advantage if you have a window. It’s the least expensive option, and it has the potential to create beautiful lighting. Do this by positioning your desk to face the window so that the light shines on your face, not on your back. A bright background will darken your face and make it difficult for your audience to see you.
- Be aware of clouds and time of day. As the sunlight shifts, so will the light in your office. It can be distracting for your associates if your light is constantly moving around.
- If you don’t have a window, or your lighting is inadequate, try one of these options:
- Ring lights – these used to be incredibly expensive, but you can now purchase small clip-on ring lights for as little as $5 USD. These are great for laptops and cell phones because they are portable and easy to use. The only downfall is that the light source is small, so it’s not great if you are far from the camera.
- Clamp lights are your next best option. These can be found at any hardware store, including Wal-Mart, and they are incredibly versatile. Be mindful of their brightness, though. These lamps shine directly and unfiltered which can cast harsh shadows. You might consider turning the lamp to face a nearby wall or using diffusion paper to manipulate the light.
- One type of light is not necessarily better than the other. The best lighting is the one that brightens your face without casting harsh shadows. Pay attention to where your light is coming from, and be sure that the light source is constant.
A good rule of thumb for optimizing your audio is to hold your meeting in a quiet, distraction-free environment. Try to keep kids and pets away, and mute yourself when you aren’t speaking. This reduces interference and keeps the conference running smoothly.
- If you find that it’s difficult to hear your colleagues, headphones are a great option. There are headphones for every occasion, and they come in every color. Many headphones have microphones built in, but if not, you can still use the mic on your computer or an external microphone.
- External microphones are perfect if you’re making a lot of calls or recording your conferences. They ensure a smooth sound capture and provide you with more customization. They can also reduce background noise, so your children playing in the next room aren’t so noticeable to your coworkers.
- Be sure to test your microphone before jumping onto any call. Most conferencing apps have an option to test your input in Settings. Testing eliminates most issues that can arise, and it’s a surefire way to make sure you’re connected to the correct microphone.
- When you test your audio input, play with how close/far you sit from the microphone. If you are sitting too far away, your voice will be too quiet for the computer to detect. If you are sitting too close, certain vocal sounds such as “B” and “P” could sound loud or harsh.
Technically, you can hold a virtual conference anywhere. You could meet from a plane, train, or automobile, and no one would bat an eye. But, in the best-case scenario, you should pay attention to the background in your video.
Your background doesn’t need to be completely plain, but you should try to eliminate items that move erratically. If plain is what you desire, but you don’t have a perfectly empty wall to use as a backdrop, you could hang simple, non-reflective fabric such as cotton or tulle. Not a fan of fabric? Try something more productive like a chalkboard or whiteboard. Not only can they be a simple background, but you can use them to articulate your thoughts to your cohorts as well.
Another option would be sitting in front of a bookshelf or tapestry. Truly, your best bet is to have your back to a wall of some sort as long as your wall is work-appropriate.
Although virtual meetings have become relatively normal, they aren’t for everyone. If you prefer a more personal experience, it might be wise to rent a conference room in a library or office building. In fact, Centerco Office Suites is home to two conference rooms and day offices to rent by the hour or the day, and they both come with abundant amenities. Sip on some fresh, locally-sourced coffee while you present to your peers, and leave the rest to us. Give us a call or click today to make a reservation.
Good luck creating your perfect meeting environment!