How to look and sound awesome at online meetings

Sigmar Muuga
Written by Sigmar Muuga
on June 19, 2020

As a solopreneur, you must've attended a fair amount of online meetings and conference calls, especially in recent times.

My name is Sigmar and I am a developer at Xolo. During the past few months, we have been working from home leaving our offices empty. The sheer number of online meetings has grown rapidly and they can be quite hard to follow at times. A lot of it boils down to a range of technical nuances.

I have put together a few simple and easy-to-follow tips on how you can make yourself look good and easy to listen to during any virtual conference meeting.

Improve overall image quality

If you switch on your camera for a sales call and your background looks cluttered or ugly, it can prove to be an unnecessary distraction. It is a challenge to find space for yourself. In reality, you don't actually need that much, a couple of square meters would do the trick. Don't forget to declutter the area, nobody wants to see empty pizza boxes from your Netflix sesh the night before.

Space is good, but bare space isn't. Give your bare white walls a bit of character with some flowers, framed pictures, or anything else you can pin on them. To make it easier for your caller to stay focused, treat it like a YouTube video: the more interesting it is, the more views and the better the engagement you’ll have.

Test connection quality

It’s always smart to test your internet connection before the meeting. You don’t want to run into any connection issues during the call. The easiest way to do it is  to open www.speedtest.net in your browser and click 'Go'. It will show you your upload and download speed. Zoom, for example, requires at least stable 1 Mbps for the upload and 2.5 Mbps for the download to send and receive data successfully.

If you often struggle with the internet connection at your house, then it’s probably time to find a new service provider or upgrade. You can also check if your mobile service provider is offering any good LTE options. Stable internet connectivity is vital to having a successful meeting. No one likes spending half the meeting yelling “Can you hear me?”.

Ensure excellent video quality

Most built-in laptop cameras are providing low-quality video and cannot capture more than the 720p resolution. If people on the other side of the world are watching you on a bigger screen or a monitor, the picture can be awkwardly pixelated and blurred.

To fix the video quality, get a webcam that can output at least 1080p, but bare in mind 1080p would require a decent internet connection. There are affordable options available by Logitech, like C920, C922, or C930e.

Turn your mobile phone into a webcam

Thankfully, there is a good and very obvious alternative to your low-quality laptop webcam: your smartphone. You can set up your phone as a virtual webcam and use it during meetings.

iPhone users could turn to an app called Epoccam and for Android, there is an app called DroidCamX, which is my personal favourite.

Both of them work similarly: you can either connect your phone through the same WiFi your laptop is on or use a USB cable.

This solution would offer amazing visual quality, but don't forget to test it as some phone models may experience lagging and result in audio and video being out of sync.

Good lighting matters

The more light is in your room, the better! Pull up your curtains or bring in extra lamps - build trust by making yourself more visible. If you're willing to step it up a notch, go all-in and invest in a softbox, it's something used by professional photographers, streamers and YouTubers. 

Softboxes are used by professional photographers, streamers and YouTubers

Far too many people sit with their cameras pointed directly towards the light source. Try to change your position so that the light always comes from behind the camera (facing the window is preferable).

Consider a virtual background

In case you don't have a decent choice of a separate spot dedicated to meetings or you happen to share the same space with multiple people, there's always the option of using a virtual background. Software like Zoom already has the virtual background feature built-in, but it only works well with good cameras.

Chroma key canvas or rollup would be the preferred solution for setting up a virtual background. Some software already has built-in chroma key filters like Logitech Capture, which only works with Logitech cameras, or OBS studio, with the latter able to apply the filter to any camera source.

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Get your sound quality right

Reduce echo

One of the easiest things to tick off the list when it comes to improving audio is getting rid of echo. Some of us have a higher-pitched voice than others and echo doesn't make it more appealing to listen to. Extra interior items and pieces of furniture can help reduce echo in your room, something as simple as a few extra pillows or a carpet may also solve the issue.

Find a quality microphone

Rode NT-USB mini

Laptop microphones aren't great, they often sound like an old mobile phone, distorting or clipping up the audio at times.

There are some affordable and simple microphone options available:

Tune your voice

If you happen to have a Snowball or other semi-pro condenser mic, you can also choose a different mode in your mic to adjust your voice.

If you feel that your voice may be too low or too high-pitched, there is an option to tune it either with your computer's built-in equaliser (if it has it) or install a dedicated equaliser software.

VB-Audio offers an app called Voicemeeter that helps you set up your audio inputs and outputs in any way you want. It's still preferable to use good hardware instead.

Eliminate distractions

Turn off all app notifications, alarms and other bells and whistles that can interrupt your meeting (tip: make a checklist). Agree with your family members in advance on when and if they can contact you.

Any distractions during an important meeting can ruin it, you can lose track of what you were saying or interrupt the people you're in a call with, without them being physically present in the same room as you, it's easy to lose connection.

Conclusion

Online presence is like a presence in the real world - the better you look and sound, the likelier you are to succeed in your objectives. If you do a great job of presenting yourself, you might never have to visit the office again! We hope this post gave you some easy and actionable tips to make your online presence stand out!

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