Many (read: most) of us didn’t sign up to have think about lighting, framing and background in some pretty high level professional settings.
And yet, as we have all learned, nonverbal communication does not stop just because you are no longer in the same physical space as someone. The fact of the matter is, the cues we are sending over video send a strong impression, both from the moment you join a call, and all throughout your connection time.
Luckily, setting up a decent system that allows you to connect with clients and stay physically present, is made accessible through a few minor, but powerful hacks. Here are our Virtual Sapiens recommendations.
Hack N.1 - Getting your camera to eye-level
What this hack improves: Posture, ease of eye contact, framing
Why these things matter: One of the biggest mistakes we see during video calls is poor lens alignment. You want to think about your lens are your audience. If your lens is too high, you are looking up at your audience which gives you a child-like relationship to your audience – this diminishes your authority immediately. If you are looking down on your lens, you send an impression of ill-adjusted dominance.
Having your camera directly at eye level also helps you maintain an open and upright posture. If you are stooping towards your screen or lens, you immediately look more tired, low energy and in some cases, smaller in stature.
How to enact this hack: This Boyata laptop stand is my absolute favorite. It is adjustable to help bring your laptop and camera to an appropriate height. If you prefer not to spend the $30, you can easily play around with books, boxes and other household options, but this can often get a bit tricky with key board placement. Read on for our thoughts on how to ease the zombie arms!
Hack N.2 - No Zombie Arms Allowed
What this hack improves: Posture, Carpel Tunnel, Reducing unnecessary movement during a video call
Why these things matter: Proper placement with your keyboard allows for an engaged and open posture, it also helps reduce tension in the wrists which can lead to very annoying carpel tunnel syndrome. (Who said office work wasn’t physical!?)
How to enact this hack: This Logitech Wireless Keyboard and Mouse allow you maximal flexibility in adjusting your lens and camera to the right height while also ensuring you still have the right set up with for typing. During video calls, you can easily take notes, use keyboard shortcuts without leaning in toward the screen. This helps your overall composure and keeps any distracting movements to a minimum.
Hack N.3 - Presenting from standing
What this hack improves: Energy while presenting, avoiding sitting down all day
Why these things matter: Standing while presenting has long been known to bring a special energy to your presentations. I love giving virtual talks standing up. You have more room to move, feel more human and can usually connect better with your audience. Sitting is also hard on your body if you are seated all day. Alternating between being seated vs. standing can drastically alter the outlook of your day.
How to enact this hack: There are two main set ups you can try. You can go this route with an electric powered desk that adjusts to your height. This product allows you to preset up to four different heights between 28 to 46 inches.
You can also get an adjustable platform that sits on top of your pre-existing desk or table. This works in the same way as the standing desk except you manually slide the platform up or down whether you are standing or sitting.
Whichever way you go, the height of your laptop matters greatly when you are spending so much time oriented around this device. This goes for whether you are working remotely, or in the office.
Hack N.4 - Lighting
What this hack improves: Overall confidence on screen, focus on you as a presenter, sending a strong first impression
Why these things matter: How often have you signed onto a video call to a dark, looming shadow? Or a bright, halo/orb that obscures your fellow participant’s face?
One of the biggest issues we tackle first at Virtual Sapiens is helping people with their lighting. Our tool looks for overall brightness, brightness on your image and evenness of lighting. When you have good lighting, your audience sees you, your expression and intention very clearly. You are able to more authentically connect with your audience as a result.
How to enact this hack: Apartment lighting might not be ideal for a video call set up, however, you can solve most lighting issues with a Lume Cube or a Neweer Ring Light. Make sure you place your light source behind your lens – so you are not backlit.
Hack N.5 - Noise Quality
What this hack improves: Noise Quality
Why these things matter: It goes without saying, one of the main problems with video conferencing is audio. There is a serious rabbit-hole to go down when it comes to upgrading your audio. Oftentimes, poor video quality will be excused so long as you have clear and quality audio. Captivating your audience and having your messages land with impact requires good audio.
How to enact this hack: From the simplest perspective, using headphones can be hugely helpful. This helps the microphone pick up on your voice more clearly. Air pods are best and allow you to be wireless. The most recommended external microphone is this Blue Yeti USB Mic. This mic is easy to set up, filters out noise and you have the ability to control which part of the microphone is turned out. Your voice will ring clear when using this microphone. Just do everyone a favor and don’t have the mic in the screen – no need to have that take up your much needed space!
In the end, any one of these upgrades will significantly up your remote office game. Throughout your workday, you will feel more settled, comfortable and confident. On video calls, you will appear more settled, comfortable and confident.
Being intentional when it comes to your remote office work space demonstrates thoughtfulness. You send the message that you take pride in your professional life, that you have spent time thinking about the experience of the person on the receiving end and you will also end up feeling more present and connected yourself.
If you are unsure what you need to adjust to make your remote office set up great – sign up for Virtual Sapiens, we have all of the feedback you need!