The new normal is here and so you may find yourself challenged by the prospect of having to give another virtual presentation. Presentations are challenging enough and then to stack on the difficulty of presenting in place dependent on your computer, your webcam, your office lighting, it can be become a complete headache.
I've been there and I feel your pain. The purpose of this post is to help eliminate those anxieties and frustrations so I want to offer 5 tips for your next virtual presentation from a technical standpoint.
The first point worth addressing is audio for your virtual presentation. You may have a terrible webcam, a slow computer, and maybe even bad lighting and that is all par for the course. But, if you can at a bare minimum capture great audio you should be in great shape for a majority of virtual presentation scenarios.
As you explore your options, there are several microphone options including cardioid, omnidirectional, and shotgun. In a nutshell, cardioid captures everything in the front and blocks the back. Omnidirectional mics capture sound from all angles. And, shotgun mics are almost hyper-cardioid and are meant to pick up sounds from far away.
The best option for you in a virtual presentation will be any cardioid microphone since they are deal for recording, podcasting, and the case of our conversation - giving virtual presentations.
I would suggest something like the Shure SM7B or even the the very popular Blue Yeti.
And rounding out the technology trifecta, we have video. Most computers today have at least a 720p camera. More modern day computers are already at 1080p and you can find some external webcams sporting 4k. For a virtual presentation you should absolutely be fine with 1080p. It's kind of the goldilocks of the bunch. 720p is a bit degraded and 4k is overkill.
You may also want to look into connecting an external camera to your computer. You are going to get the best colors and video quality but the apps and work arounds just aren't there yet and I can't 100% recommend it due to the audio lag that is often an end result.
Next up we have lighting. Lighting is absolutely key when giving a virtual presentation. After all, you are the reason people are logging on so make sure to light yourself up. A basic halo light will go a long way but ideally you want to set-up a three-point lighting system as you will see in this diagram.
You want to have a key light which is your main source of illumination. That light is then complemented with a fill light to as it describes - to fill in the lighting gaps. And finally, you have a backlight to help provide some contrast and depth of field.
When giving your virtual presentation it is absolutely necessary that you power off all non-essential devices and software programs. This is the time to close down your email, browser, and any program that make send you a notification. In addition, you are going to want to power off your phone or put it in airplane mode for the duration of your talk. If you are on a Mac, put it it in Do Not Disturb mode. The main objective is to eliminate all distractions so you can focus solely on the platforms that are powering your talk.
If you have followed the advice above, you most likely have invested a lot of time and energy to ensure you have the best technical advantages for your virtual presentation. You went this far, so I encourage you to go one step further and double check or even triple check everything. Everything with your virtual presentation "is your fault" so embrace and acknowledge that reality. If your laptop dies, it is your fault. If your lighting kit decides to fail, it is your fault. If your camera battery is running on empty, it is your faulty. Everything is your responsibility.
Zoom, Google Meetings, Skype, Facetime, and the many others. These programs are part of our new normal moving forward. And, because of this change, virtual presentations are going to be a bigger part of your career than you ever imagined. This is the time to level up your game so you can set yourself up for success the next you have to lead that virtual presentation.
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