There are quite a few technical considerations to keep in mind when preparing to be on camera for a video webcast or conference. As a broadcast video producer, I’ve experienced every disaster you could think of. So hopefully you can learn from my experiences.
Reduce your stress by taking a few minutes before you’re due to be on camera to think through your audio and video needs.
Audio Webcast Tips
• Listen. Are there any sounds you can reduce or eliminate? Someone’s radio in the background? Noisy printer? Shut your office door.
• Put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your office door before you get started.
• Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone.
• If possible, use an external microphone that can plug into your computer.
TIP: If you do webcasts regularly, I recommend purchasing a lavalier microphone with a 1/8″ jack that would fit into your PC. They usually come packaged with a lapel clip that you can attach to your tie or shirt. I’ve seen prices starting around $30 and it will greatly improve your audio quality. If you do get a lavalier, sometimes they require batteries, so keep in mind that the first rule of video production is that the $.50 item will be the thing that ruins the whole production.
• If you are using a mobile device, use ear buds with a microphone. Don’t use the lavalier suggested above because you won’t be able to hear your audience.
Video Camera Tips
• Turn on the lights! Video cameras struggle in low light.
• Look behind you. Is there a window? Close the blinds. Tidy up. Make sure that there’s nothing distracting behind you. It’s always entertaining when there’s a plant that looks like it’s growing out of someone’s head.
• Avoid a shaky cam! If your camera is not attached to your desktop, put it on a tripod or use a stand for your mobile device.
Test Equipment and Practice
• Test your Internet speed and equipment. Often you’ll have better results if you use Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi.
• Connect with someone outside your office to make sure your equipment works, and you look marvelous.
• Plug in your computer or make sure you have a full battery.
Take a tip from someone who worked in live television for a long time: testing your equipment will save you from embarrassment and give you the confidence to focus on communication instead of technical difficulties.
One of my main pet peeves is when video is recorded vertically instead of horizontal on mobile devices. Think for a moment of the television that you’ve been watching your whole lifeâ€¦it’s horizontal. When you turn your phone up and down instead of sideways, you become smaller on television and computer screens, and will have black on either side. Please, do a girl a favor and turn your mobile device horizontally.