Polish your virtual meetings even more with these resources

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Chapter 2 - Lights, Camera, Audio Action! Setting Up Properly Without Converting Your Office Into a Film Set

Camera Recommendations

  • Logitech C920 – This was my go-to for many years and is still top of class
  • Logitech C922 – This is what I am currently using. I picked it up after publishing the book, hence why I don’t mention it there. It’s nearly identical to the C920 but has a slightly higher price point as it has a faster frame rate. The faster frame rate gives you better resolution in low-light conditions. Most people probably won’t notice much (if any) difference for day-to-day virtual meetings, but if you need to dial things up a bit or record lots of videos, this is a great choice.
  • Logitech C930 – yes, another Logitech camera from the C9xx series! The C930 has the same quality of picture as the C920, but with a wider camera angle and field of view. This makes the C930 a good choice if you are setting up a board room or meeting room for virtual meetings and will have several people in that room participating in the meeting. If this is the situation you are in, I strongly recommend watching this video.
  • DSLR – Let me impart wisdom from my friend and go-to tech geek David Papp.  DSLRs are not good choices for long videos as their sensors overheat. A general rule of thumb is to not use them for more than 30 minutes – not good, considering how long meetings tend to run. DLSRs also require more fussing about with lenses. If you are determined to use something other than a webcam, then you’ll want to go with a “handycam” (camcorder). You’ll also need to connect the handycam to a device that translates it into a format your computer will properly read (known as a “capture card”), and the correct cables to connect everything together. If you want to go that route, David recommends the Canon Vixia HF R800 camcorder and the Elgato HD60S capture card. You will also need an HDMI cable and USB cable. Then you would hook it all together like this:

Computer ⇒ USB cable ⇒ Elgato HD60S ⇒ HDMI cable ⇒ Canon Vixia HF R800

(see why I recommend sticking with the Logitech C920 series cameras?)

 

Microphone Recommendations

The microphones that are on cell phone headsets are generally pretty good and will suffice for most people. If you want your mic to be separate from your headphones, here are some excellent choices. Depending on your set-up, you may still need to wear headphones to prevent echo, though a unidirectional microphone can eliminate echo.

  • Audio-Technica ATR2100x USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone – a great uni-directional microphone (meaning it only picks up sound coming from right in front of it). I’ve been using it for years and it is a popular entry-level podcaster qualiity microphone; good quality sound, and I’ve never had a problem with echo.  The mic comes with its own stand.
  • Blue Yeti – A perennially popular choice. I’ve used this and really liked the results. It has high quality audio, and several sound pick-up choices, so it can work whether you are using it on your own or with several people seated around it. This makes it a great choice for boardrooms.
  • Blue Yeti Nano – Similar to the Blue Yeti but in a smaller package, at a lower price point, and with slightly different features. This one is built with for desktop users in mind, and only has cardioid (unidirectional) and omnidirectional sound pick-up. The audio quality is apparently slightly lower, but not enough to be noticed in the vast majority of virtual meeting or videoconference settings.

 

Lighting Recommendations

  • Neewar 480 LED Video Lighting Kit (with softbox diffuser) – this two-pack lighting kit may be overkill for many people, but I found it resolved many of my own headaches. It comes with softbox diffusers which really helps deal with overly harsh lighting and allows you to adjust both the warmth and brightness of the light. It comes in a two-pack, which is definitely worth it for the price.
  • Gooseneck lamp – This is an Ikea lamp, but any bog-standard gooseneck lamp can work nicely as they allow you to adjust the height and direction of the light. Just note that you might want some kind of diffuser over the opening, like a piece of wax paper taped over the mouth of the lamp.
  • Lightbulbs: Daylight (5000K), 800 Lumens, 60-Watt equivalent – You can find these at just about any home goods or hardware store. Color-wise, the 5000k daylight range is deal but you can go slightly warmer (lower numbers = warmer light). Don’t go lower than 3000k. 800 lumens will light you up nicely in terms the amount of light being cast on you. You will likely need two lamps with these lightbulbs in order to be lit properly. LED lights are definitely preferable to incandescent. They don’t heat up as much and it’s much safer to throw improvised diffusers over them without worrying if you’re going to burn the building down.
  • Neewar 18″ Ring Light – ring lights are popular options. While I’ve had a ring light for many years – it worked well and I still sometimes use it – I prefer the softbox lighting kit at the top of this list.

 

Video Tutorials for Tech Set-Up

I often look to YouTube to find tutorials and recommendations on technology and set-up. Here are some good YouTube videos that discuss different aspects of virtual meeting tech and set-up.

ZOOM LIGHTING HACKS: Beginner “how to” for cheap zoom lighting that ROCKS using household lights

  • This excellent video takes you through lighting principles (useful for understanding how lighting works), inexpensive lighting solutions, and walks you through how to set it up. Seeing the different effects created by common lighting scenarios is very useful, and Julie walks you through several common at-home virtual meeting lighting problems and how to fix them.

Look Better on Video Calls With These Easy Lighting Tips

  • This video delivers exactly what it promises. It’s short and to the point, and will work for just about any office-based or work-from-home setup.

How I light my melanin

  • Hallease gives good insight into lighting for deep skin. This video contains more advanced filmography and video techniques (particularly regarding camera recommendations), but there is a lot to be gleaned for simpler home set-ups as well.

How to Gear up for a Zoom Presentation event for your Non-profit or association Chapter

  • This video is geared towards those setting up for virtual meetings and video conferences in board rooms or meeting rooms, with several people in the room at once. This was created by my professional tech geek friend David Papp back in the Before Times of 2018, but the tech gear recommendations and set-up advice is the same today.

Chapter 3 - The Tao of Pants: Never Leave What Others Can See up to Chance

Color photo of Blue Wall background – page 53

Color photo of Charcoal Wall background – page 55

Virtual Meeting Make-Up Tutorials

(Click on the video titles to watch the videos on YouTube)

Everyone, regardless of gender, deserves like how they look on camera, and a little make-up can go a long way for helping you look and feel good. While most of these videos are gender specific, the techniques used can often work for anyone.  The videos created for women typically have more elaborate “looks”.

On-Camera Makeup Tips and Tricks for Men ►Tips From a LIVE Streamer

  • I’m putting this one first because a lot of men aren’t comfortable with using make-up. Well, learn from a guy who’se bald pate and mighty beard show you that yes, a few easy and strategic make-up touches will help you look rested and sharp in your next virtual meeting. This is also a great video for anyone who wants a bit more on-camera polish without looking visibly “made-up”.

5 Minute Makeup for Video Conference – Ali Andreea 

  • Makeup artist Andreea Ali walks you through a very simple, professional look that is great for virtual meetings. She goes step by step, start to finish, making it easy to follow even if you aren’t a dab-hand with the mascara wand. This look will work with a wide age range. She has other videos with more dramatic looks that are still Zoom-friendly.

Glowing,Youthful Day MakeUp Tutorial For Mature Skin

  • What works on a 20-something intern isn’t the same as what works on a 60+ executive. This is an excellent look for those with mature skin and will work very well for videoconferences.

Video Call Makeup Tutorial Brown Skin

  • Joy walks you through a very professional, easy, classy look for brown skin. This one comes together quickly.

Zoom/Back to Work Makeup for Dark Skin

  • A gorgeous look for dark skin. This style is a bit flashier but very professional and suitable for the office or the webcam. I think it looks great.

 

Clothing and style recommendations

What to Wear on Camera: 5 Tips to Look Good on TV & Video

  • This is one of the best “what to wear on camera” videos I’ve come across. Kat mostly focuses on color, but also has advice on style, cut, prints, and so on. Some of the advice is more applicable to TV, but she also addresses virtual meetings and most advice works for both TV and videoconference. Relevant for people of all skin tones and genders.

 

Chapter 4 - Mugging for the Webcam: Boost Clarity and Impact by Tapping Into Your Inner Actor

The Cork Method: How a Simple Cork Can Help You Speak More Clearly

In this quick video, I show you the technique my acting teachers used to train me to speak clearly, and that I use to this day with my own speaking students and clients. (I recorded it a couple years ago – behold my old sky blue background in action!)

Embedded video being cranky? Click here to watch directly on my YouTube channel.

Chapter 6 - Staying Sane: Handling Virtual Meetings Long-Term Without Losing Your Mind

Website Blockers and Productivity Apps

There are lots of different website blockers and productivity apps out there – paid and free, Apple, Windows, Mac, Android, etc. They are often calls pomodoro apps, named after the pomodoro productivity technique of doing 25 minutes of focused work with a 5 minute break (most pomodoro apps let you set the work/break times to whatever you want). Here are a few that I like:

Strict Workflow (Google Chrome Extension – Free)

  • Like most workflow or pomodoro apps, this app blocks websites during your “work” time and unblocks them during your “break” time. It comes with a pre-loaded list of websites – mostly the usual Social Media distraction culprits, but you can customize the blocked sites. I block my email and my banking website, as those are two of the biggest distraction sites for me. You can set the work/break time intervals to whatever you like.

Freedom (Compatible across all operating systems & devices – Paid)

  • Freedom is the most popular paid productivity and blocker app out there. Many of my clients love it. Like Strick Workflow, it will block websites, and it can also block specific non-website apps on your computer or mobile device. It can also block the internet completely for a given period of time. Freedom works with Apple, Android, Windows, and so on, and you can synch your settings across all your devices.

Forest (For mobile devices – Apple iOs & Android – Free & Paid versions)

  • This is a cute gamification focus app specifically for mobile devices, and it can help you train to stop compulsively reaching for your smartphone and checking social media or email. When you don’t want to be looking at your phone – say, you need a focus period for work or want to be mentally present during a dinner out with friends – you start the app and “plant” a tree. The longer your phone stays on the app, the bigger the tree goes. Navigate away from the app or open any other app on your phone, and your tree dies. If you have several successful timed focus sessions, you can grow a whole forest! Its a funny way to make focusing more enjoyable and many people find the game aspect of Forest helpful for keeping their phone-use habits in check.  Here’s a bonus – the app makers are partnered with a forest-planting charity, so you can turn your digital focus trees into real planted trees!

If you want more recommendations for ]productivity, focus, or website blocker apps,  Zapier has an excellent up-to-date list here.

 

Sample Virtual Meeting Checklists

I can be very forgetful when my mind is on something like an upcoming meeting or presentation. I’m a big fan of having checklists handy so that a piece of paper can remember details for me. Many people have asked to see my checklists so they can get ideas for what to put on theirs. Here are two sample pre-virtual-meeting checklists: one if you are working in an office building, and one if you are working from home. Click here to download them.