5 Pro Tips to Better Lights, Camera and ACTION!
We are all neck-deep in Zoom, and virtual everything. So, I thought now might be a good time to review a couple of protocols about how you can make yourself look and sound better, and more professional in the Virtual World.
Here are the 5 topics I want to discuss:
1. Microphone: Please. Get. One.
2. The Man (or Woman) in the Mirror, and what’s behind him.
3. Watch your body language
4. Get Lit
5. Control your environment
Take the Mic.
The most important thing you can do for yourself, your listeners and your message is to get yourself an external microphone. PLEASE DON’T use the microphone on your computer.
Here’s why: Clear audio gives you authority.
The microphone on your computer is not meant to be used for “long form” and ongoing conversations. It records what’s happening in your entire room. The birds, the cabinet doors in the kitchen closing, the dog snoring. It diminishes your stature by making you sound like you’re talking from inside a tin can.
As a viewer, I don’t want to be thinking: “This audio sucks,” or “What did she say?” I want to hear you, clearly, especially if you’re doing a panel discussion, or are being interviewed by the media. It’s better to provide the best audio you can, than to expect the other side to have to boost or EQ you. You owe it to your listeners, yourself and your meeting mates to provide the best audio possible from the start.
Here is an affiliate link to Amazon for the microphone I actually use for the podcast: https://amzn.to/3dEkuZh It can be used with a USB right into your computer!
Check the shot out.
When we do live events at professional venues, we oftentimes have a full-length mirror to look at before we take the stage. Additionally, we have makeup and stylists to ensure we look our best. At home, you need to be your own stylist, AND have your own mirror. Literally, your own mirror.
Make sure you don’t have a piece of your breakfast hanging on the side of your mouth. Also, make sure your camera shoots you straight-on. Not from above, and not from below, so we can see up your nose! Put your computer on a stack of books, or raise your desk or lower your chair. Make sure the webcam captures you at eye-level for the best shot possible.
Also, please remember, you’ve invited us into your home for this meeting, so we’re going to take the opportunity to look around while we’re here. That includes what’s behind you. So, if your unmade bed is behind you (Yes, I have ACTUALLY seen that, and that never makes a good impression), or there’s a lava lamp, an empty pizza box and a Led Zeppelin poster hanging on the wall, THAT is going to make a certain impression. If it’s distracting, or not the impression you want…adjust. Your camera captures a small shot, so move that unwieldy stack of paperwork onto the OTHER chair, lol! Pre-check your shot every time.
Opportunities for branding, and for showing off your savvy production values abound. If you or someone you know can create a customized, branded background, experiment with that type of stuff, but as stated above, there are distractions during these video sessions, so don’t create more, and stop using that canned beach background.
A No Spin Zone: It’s all about you.
Watch your body language, and pay attention to how you sit. We have nothing else to look at but what your camera sees. If your right arm is hanging over the back of your chair, and you’re swaying back in forth in your swivel chair, guess what? Distracto.
Focus, and be present, and know that you are LIVE at all times. Typing, texting, (and their accompanying little noises), are just plain rude and annoying.
The Art of Lighting.
It is important to light you, and your background. Make sure you have light on your face, but not so much that you’re squinting or shining (again, demo yourself on your Facetime or webcam camera). Facing a window provides the best natural light you can get. You don’t want the sun in your face, but a window with muted light is perfect. It lights you, as well as your background. Having a light shining from BEHIND you will make your camera iris close up, and will make your face dark. We want to see your face, with no distractions.
When in Doubt, MUTE.
We all know that stuff happens. The dog barks. The doorbell rings. The FedEx Guy shows up. Or, maybe, like for me, all three of these things happen to you simultaneously. Again, in the beginning, we all find this a little funny. A little amusing. We are forgiving. BUT, this type of stuff is going to get old, and people are going to be rolling their eyes if this becomes the norm for you.
God gave us a sweet little helper for that…It’s called MUTE. Use this gift. Unless you’re leading a panel discussion, you don’t need to be live all the time. Even if you are, you can still mute, and un-mute pretty easily. Mute also helps when you need to take a drink (GULP!), and for sneezes and coughs. Radio people have been using Cough Buttons for decades to hide loud, and sometimes unexpected occurrences.
You are your own little broadcast center. If you use these small tips, you will look and sound better, and command a more authoritative presence.