May 12, 2020 Posts

Ready for My Close-Up: Better Online Meetings

I confess, I am not “camera-ready” and I completely understand why many of my students prefer blocking their video feed during regular online sessions. However, in general, seeing the other person does make life online less tedious and more social. And these tips may also make things a bit more tolerable.
Prologue: Before You Begin
1. Have all attendee’s phone numbers available.

2. Have your smartphone or iPad available. Text, phone or FaceTime can be a quick backup if the internet disconnects.

3. Share a GoogleDocs file with all attendees. Not only will these notes document the session, but everyone can view them separate from Zoom if the Zoom video resolution is not high enough or if the internet disconnects.

4. Before booking your Zoom online meeting, check that all attendees have the proper technology and internet bandwidth during the session. If several people in the house are also making online video calls, and Netflix streaming, and playing computer games, well…chaos ensues.
A Clean, Well-Lighted and Quiet Place
1. Find a quiet place with no distractions, preferably with a door to shut out other household noises. Barking dogs, screaming siblings, parents washing the dishes or vacuuming the house are quite loud, even from across a large room.
2. Avoid eating and moving excessively when on a video call. If you must, do so with the mute button on. The microphone amplifies noises next to it such as shuffling papers, clicking pens and clinking coffee cups.
3. Keep your background tidy. Remember, we can see everything right behind you. Find a room with a simple background, like a blank wall or uncluttered bookcase instead of your unmade bed or posters with scantily-clad women. Consider draping a light colored sheet over your background if needed. Or switch up your digital backgrounds using the Zoom settings.
Can You Hear Me?
1. Use a good quality headset with a microphone, like iPhone ear buds. Do not rely on the internal laptop or computer mic as these are often poor quality and sensitive to changes in distance. If you wear a mic, you don’t have to worry that your audio will drop off every time you lean back in your chair. Nothing makes an online meeting more tiresome than poor audio quality.
2. Learn how to quickly mute and unmute yourself. Post a note (out of camera view) to remind yourself to mute or unmute. In Zoom, The Push to Talk feature allows you to mute the meeting while holding down the space bar which allows you to quickly unmute and talk. Remember, if you forget to mute yourself, everyone else can hear you drinking, chewing or yelling.

Ready for My Close-Up

1. Arrange the laptop or computer camera at eye level. A low camera angle is the most unflattering. No one wants to see a close-up of your nasal cavities or the inside of your mouth.

2. Look directly into the camera pin-hole lens and not into your screen where the other attendees are displayed. By looking directly into the camera, you will make eye contact with everyone else.
3. Check your hair and clothes in a mirror prior to an online meeting, especially for professional settings. Wear dark, solid color tops and avoid narrow stripes, busy patterns and neon colors. Wearing appropriate pants are suggested. If you forget to wear pants, remember not to stand up in front of the camera (unless this is part of your business model).
4. Check your online video conference appearance by Zooming a friend to make sure your camera angle, lighting and background are fine. This is especially important for professional meetings. You don’t want weird fluorescent lighting or a lamp pole jutting from the top of your head to ruin your on-camera moment.

650 words

2 min clip Singing in the Rain.

35 sec video, Norma Desmond, finale of Sunset Boulevard.