But my 22+ years in video production simply won't allow it. Oh, it hurts me when I hear a voice echoing like they're standing in an empty bathroom or see the face of a client silhouetted like a mob boss in the witness protection program. Why is this a problem? For some, it isn't. But we use our visual senses to form our perceptions of each other and a a dark, shadowy figure who's hard to hear won't build trust as easily as a sharply focused, well-lit person with the voice clarity of a network announcer.
The good news is, the fix is an easy one, and it doesn't cost a lot of money to fix although you certainly can invest (and I chose that verb on purpose) in equipment to change your first impression from murky to marvelous. Here are a few ideas covering the basics of video conferencing so you can look and sound better every time. Let's cover the low end choices and conclude with higher end selections. Mix and match them to achieve the best effect for you.
|Almost anything is better than the|
factory camera for better video.
Good lighting choices can often make the difference between being seen and not seen. Often, all it takes is turning off a switch in one place and turning on a different switch somewhere else.
|Who would YOU rather see?|
The quickest and easiest thing you can do is place a light source somewhere in front of your face. A desk lamp, open window, under-shelf fluorescent or other light source turned on can flood your face with the light required to permit the camera to have as much light as it requires for the best possible image.
Help out the lights in front of you by turning off some or all of the lights above and behind you. The idea is to make the image of you brighter than the background. Experiment with different combinations until you see a look you like. Make a note of what was on and off so you can replicate it when needed.
To better control the light, invest in light specially designed and constructed just for video conferencing:
On the definite high-end, the Videssence Viewme is especially designed to mount on a computer monitor (or on either side of it with two stands) and provide two-point lighting for the best result possible. At nearly $200, it might be difficult to justify on your expense account, but the excellent results are undeniable.
|When appearance matters|
more than price.
Priced in the mid-range, the Webstar II is a circle of LED lights surrounding your external webcam that you mount within the ring. The light also comes with a dimmer to adjust the amount of light required. It uses a USB plug to provide power so it's portable too. It retails for $50.
|Simple, easy and not too pricey. Nice.|
On the lower end, it becomes time to adapt lights that may have been created for a somewhat different purpose, but achieve a good result nonetheless. Here are two choices to consider:
|Look how well lit his face is and it's not|
even angled toward his face.
|Just level out the "wings" and you're|
ready to light 'em up!
|1950's look, 2015 technology in the Blue Yeti |
(Yeti not included)
|Sampson Go Mic|
|A classic never goes out of style.|
- If practical, rehearse your presentation. Tape meeting notes on either side of of the camera, out of sight of your audience. Keeps notes just that- notes. A word-for-word script might cause you to read it like one and could sound odd or disingenuous.
It seems like a lot to do for a powerful, positive effect, but it really isn't. If you take some simple steps to improve three areas: camera, lighting and audio, you'll be far ahead of 99% of your competition.
And that's not a bad way to look at it.