This article was originally published on MuirEdison.com and was migrated in 2022 when Muir Edison became a Breakthrough brand.
(Advisors: Expect another piece coming soon on Upgrading Your Firm's Virtual Experience as a whole)
During and after the pandemic, your virtual experience many times IS the client experience. Your virtual meeting is an extension of your office, your dress, your brand. So, you might as well make it as sleek, beautiful, and enjoyable as technology allows.
Here are some things you might consider as you build out your virtual meeting experience:
1) Consider a Digital Camera as Your Webcam
It's time, do it. It looks amazing. To clients, you come across 10X more professional, visible, and good-looking than you already are :). Trust me, it's worth it. You can go all out and get a mirrorless camera, or get a traditional DLSR. What you'll do here is to replace your current webcam, or built-in laptop camera with a "professional" digital camera (by professional I just mean something worth it's salt). Secondarily, this same camera will work really well for podcasting & guesting.
What to buy? For my personal office setup, I use a Canon EOS 80D (Amazon). This is a DSLR camera. You definitely don't need go even this high end, you could buy a cheaper digital camera (most DSLR will look great), or you could go with all the bells and whistles, and get the latest, mirrorless, it's totally up to you. If you get a Canon, you will need to install some webcam drivers, but it will work great w/ Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype, and several others.
If you don't want to splurge on a digital camera, you could upgrade to a better webcam, and if you do - I recommend to play with the webcam settings (there are separate apps just for adjusting light exposure, color, etc).
2) Staging Your Camera, Scene, & Background
Background filters can work, but are not always the best quality. Even though some of the meeting platforms have filters allowing you to make the background fuzzy, it really doesn't end up working or looking properly, it ends up looking choppy, cuts off your ear, your shirt, shows part of the background that it shouldn't etc etc. So I would definitely actually take the time to stage your home / office scene.
Take the time to stage your webcam scene. Put art on the wall, move things that shouldn't be in frame. We have a team member that has custom made nude (cartoon) art behind him, it always gets a laugh in the meeting. This may not be my taste, but there's something to be said about intentionally immersing people in your culture, your taste, interests, your culture... Think on it..
Camera angle - Camera should be lined up so you're looking into the camera as directly as possible, making eye contact as much as you can without staring down at your pants, or up above the camera. For me, I put the camera right above the laptop screen.
Or if you wanted to go further, you could use a cheap teleprompter: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0986HN6LX, and look directly into the camera as you both read and talk to your client and/or their family. I have not used one of these, but some of my partners do.
Lighting plays a huge role in any video / webcam / podcast / photography setting. I am lucky enough to have a big window right near my webcam setup, but I usually augment it with separate lighting setup. I use the Lumecube, it's a great cheap, portable, rechargeable light. I may end up upgrading for something a bit larger, and w/ constant power, but for 30-90 min meetings, it works fine. Here it is for a laptop kit: https://lumecube.com/products/video-conference-lighting-kit-for-remote-workers and w/ the DSLR shoe mount: https://lumecube.com/products/panel-mini
A NOTE ON LIGHTING: Since I published this article - I've moved to using a combination of natural light (putting my virtual meeting setup near a window) and using this Ring light sitting on the desk, it works well enough.
4) Audio Quality
Test your audio - is it as clear as it can be? Is it echoing? The last thing you want someone to listen to is a booming, echoing, hard to hear speaker as the sound bounces around your office / conference room / home office. If your audio is echoing, you will want to put up some soft items around the room (carpets, curtains, sofas, soft pictures on the wall, etc). I hear one very quick fix (eg if you're interviewing a podcast guest) might be to put pillows in all the corners of the room (not a permanent but a quick fix).
Microphone - Buy a Mic? Should you? You don't have to by any means, you could use your computer / earbuds. If you wanted to upgrade, I use the Audio-Technica ATR2100x Cardioid Dynamic Microphone with a stand. You could also look into a separate lavalier wireless mic.
6) Webcam / Meeting Platform
By now I think everyone has their platform of choice. We just switched to Google Meet and we like that. I believe Zoom may be the best experience all around, but the others are rapidly becoming just as viable (eg Google Meet has vastly improved over the last 12 months, same w/ Microsoft Teams). I used Gotomeeting for years (we've been remotely working since 2007 lol), but recently it hadn't kept up with Zoom, Google Meet, etc. I believe Google Meet now comes packaged in all Google Business Suite accounts.
That said, these are not required by any means, but I think you'll find them all a nice 1% upgrade, improving the client's typical, daily virtual meeting flow. Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2022,