Video conferencing is such a central part of the business world that we were writing fiction about it long before the webcams and high-speed internet existed to implement it. Now that VoIP is the new normal, many professionals use video chat, video calls, and video conferencing to keep in touch with colleagues. From those who work at home to those who jet-set while teleconferencing remotely from around the world. And the one thing we all have in common is the need to present well on a webcam. This, we soon come to realize, is harder than it sounds.
Looking Good and Sounding Good on a Video Call
In a video conference call, it's important to both look and sound good as an attendee of the meeting. Just as you would want to look pretty sharp and speak with clarity at an in-office meeting. And soon, all remote professionals realize that their laptop camera/mic and their default lighting may not be the best way to present yourself. Even if you are wearing a dress shirt over your hidden PJ pants.
Eventually, we all realize that if we're going to work remotely, building a video call studio in your home office (or work location of choice) can really make a difference. So here's how to do it:
Video Conferencing Quality Checklist
Position a High-Quality Webcam
First, start with your camera. Most laptop cameras are not as flattering as we'd like, and part of that is the angle at which we use our laptops. The cameras, therefore, wind up looking basically up our noses. And that's not a flattering angle for anyone. So a good starting place is to buy a nice webcam and decide where you want to put it.
Experiment with camera angles at different heights and distances from yourself. Ideally, you want to catch your head, shoulders, and upper torso rather than just a big looming face or tiny shadowed figure.
Design a Neutral Backdrop
The next concern is your backdrop. This is easier to control in a home office than a shared working environment, but it's important to keep in mind at all times. Your backdrop is what appears behind you. It also provides the color and tone of your overall image, as there is often about as much 'white space' for the backdrop as there is space you take up in the image.
White walls can work, but matte textures are better than glossy. To a certain extent, judge your choice of backdrop based on how others among your video conferencing contacts appear. If there are dynamic backgrounds, a bookcase or hanging picture might make a nice backdrop. You can also repaint the wall behind you or hang a curtain to change the color and texture of the wall behind you.
If you don't have a blank wall behind you, but want a clean image, consider hanging a curtain to act as your backdrop during calls that can be otherwise pulled away for functionality.
Lighting Your Face
Lighting matters a surprising amount in video conferencing images. Very often, overhead lights will somehow cast a shadow on the faces of people who are making calls. What you need is a light that shines gently on your face without blinding your during calls. A good way to do that is with a diffused white LED positioned behind or near your camera. You may even be able to face it away from you, or reflect the light back on yourself for a nice diffuse and flattering effect.
Feel free to experiment with light position to ensure that your face cast shadows in a flattering way, or casts no shadows at all. A clip-light is a great way to try different angles and positions for soft LED light.
Achieving Microphone Clarity
Volumes can and have been written on how to achieve microphone clarity, so know that you are not the first to walk this path. First, you will likely need headphones or software that cancels out the feedback from your speakers. Second, you will need a decent quality microphone, ideally near your face rather than through the distant webcam mic. And third, you will need to minimize background noise.
Even the hum of a fan or humidifier can create an unpleasant buzzing or whooshing sound every time you open your mic to speak. It can also make you harder to understand or artificially raise the volume of your audio for others. If you can't minimize white noise, try a directional microphone designed to help cut out audio white noise.
Telecommuting has always been an interesting challenge, and with VoIP-powered video conferencing, it's more challenging than ever to present perfectly as a digital member of the team. Using these techniques and others that occur to you along the way, your best bet is to turn your home office or favorite working spot into a studio that always catches your best side and your best sound quality. For more VoIP insights for users and businesses, contact us today!