Online meetings? We have all tried it - here a few good things to remember!

September 6, 2022

With COVID-19 pt. 2 on the rise, the world is beginning to accept the fact that physical meetings will soon be considered a thing of the past. Gathering 10+ people in a room is turning more and more difficult due to regulations, and the new reality has also forced us to rethink the necessity of said physical meetings, as we stand to save both time and costs by turning our focus to the online tools. However, with the increased use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and other meeting tools, our presence in meetings and at events is limited to what can be seen and heard through our computer – so very limited. As you buckle up for another round of online meetings, Synapse has gathered five key tips to make sure that you are seen and heard as the best version of your online self.

From nose to eye level

Do you already have a camera on your computer, phone or tablet? – perfect! And you know what? This camera is actually perfectly placed – to look up the depths of your nose that is. To prevent people from exploring the content of your nostrils, find a way to place your camera at the same height as your eyes. This can easily be done by using either a table that can be risen, or placing something – a book stand, large books, board game boxes, etc. – underneath your laptop, phone, or tablet.

Be creative! This is in fact how humans are meant to look at each other, and ensuring eye level presence online will instantly make you the star of every meeting/event.

Good sound makes video look better

“Can you hear me?” will most likely be the quote of the year 2020. Now we have ensured that you have both eye level and eye contact, proper sound is the next feat to conquer.

Within the audiovisual business, there is a saying that good sound makes video look better. Do not rely on the lousy internal mic in your device - it will make sure to pick up all background noises, which then forces you to stay muted for the entire meeting, destroying every opportunity for interaction on your behalf.

The goal is to transmit your voice clearly with a warmth that calls for attention on the receiving end. A simple headset will do the trick, whether it is earbuds with a microphone in the cable or the more advanced wireless version with noise-cancelling tech. While ensuring your voice is as crispy and clear as ever, a headset will also grant you the ability not to disturb everyone around you, making your choice of location much more flexible.  

If acquiring a headset seems like an impossible task, please familiarise yourself with your mute button. Turn it on whenever you have anything to say/add and leave it off when just listening in.

Proper lighting

You have probably already faced the struggle of proper lighting when engaging in online meetings/presentations and often the frustrations build up the temptation to just turn off the camera and listen in - once again missing all opportunities for proper interaction.

However, no one is judging you. The lighting originating from your device is a shade of blue that makes you look like a cadaver or a zombie, and no one wants to look like they just appeared in The Walking Dead TV series. One way to solve this is to tweak your display controls for a warmer shade of lighting. Often your device has a “blue light filter” or a “night mode” that will allow you to turn on a more yellowish colour filter, which will give your face a warmer appearance. If you also make sure to have enough light on to illuminate your room, you can play around with the display settings to achieve the best results.

Don’t be shy, turn on the eye contact!

Did you succeed in getting your camera to eye height? – Great! Now, remember to also look at it. This is extremely powerful when practised, but also extremely difficult, as your instinct tells you to establish eye contact with other participants in the online meeting by looking at them on your screen. Unfortunately, online eye contact can only be achieved through the camera lens.

Try to keep track of what is happening at your screen, while also remembering to look into the camera when talking. This will boost your online appeal and you will appear more confident to people listening in.

“Check yo self before you wreck yo self”

Finally, now that you’ve been talked into having your lights on, you need to do a background check - and no, we are not talking about that questionable part of a recruitment process, where you scrounge a person's dark secrets. This type of background check is centred around the background that appears on your camera.

What’s behind you can range from distracting to embarrassing to revealing. None of which are especially good. As a rule of thumb, make sure not to have S.U.N. in your background - yes, of course, we’ve invented an acronym even though no one asked for it.

Don’t show the following:

  • Sensitive information (either from whiteboards or monitors)
  • Unknowing co-workers
  • Naked family members, who might be trekking to or from the shower.

P.S. It should go without saying but avoid having the actual sun in your background as well, as it will render all your efforts for proper visuals useless.

If you don’t have time to tidy up your home office, some webcam applications allow you to manipulate your background. Microsoft teams let you blur out your background using image and edge detection. Platforms like Zoom give you the option of changing your background with a virtual backdrop (using green screen), not unlike they do for many TV broadcasts, though with less convincing results than your typical newscast.

Alternatively, you could just add in a minuscule effort to have something pleasant and innocent behind you in real life.