During this time of mass working from home, it is as important as ever to make a great impression on your clients and prospects. Without having all the amenities of a full office setup, there are still many options to give your contacts a seamless virtual experience. The goal of this blog post is to give you some tips so you can maximize the effectiveness of your video calls.
The video aspect of your calls is going to be the most important component. Most modern laptops and computers will come with a built-in webcam. However, if yours doesn’t or if you need something with higher quality (minimum output should be a 4k HD 1080p), it’s very easy to set up an external webcam. You shouldn’t have to shell out heaps of money for a decent webcam either. If you go on Amazon (or wherever you prefer to do your shopping) and search for “4K webcam”, you can find plenty of options in the $60-70 range. Even if your computer or internet doesn’t quite have the capability to transmit 4K video, you will rest assured knowing that you have optimized your video quality.
There are a couple of other things to take into consideration when broadcasting video. First, it would be prudent to make sure you have rebooted your computer within the last day. This will make sure that any unnecessary processes are ceased, freeing up more RAM on your computer for the video call. You should also close out of as many applications as possible right before the call, for the same purpose. Finally, if you are using Zoom, click on settings, then click the video option and make sure “Enable HD” is checked.
Lighting is quite possibly the second most important facet of your video calls. Having a good lighting setup can make or break the quality of your video. If you have access to a room with good windows, you can maximize your use of natural light. If practical, rearrange the room so that the main window is directly in front of you. This will create the best effect with depth and shadows. However, this can be a tricky option when it’s a cloudy or stormy day. You can minimize this risk by purchasing some studio style lighting if your current room lighting is not adequate. Once again, navigate to your favorite online store and search for “3 point lighting kit.” There should be several great options in the $100-120 range. These can be easily assembled, transported, and set up much like a photography studio. If you purchase a set of 3 studio lights, it is recommended that you set them up in a similar manner to the following description:
While having the camera straight in front of you, you’ll want to position your strongest light at a 45 degree angle on one side. You can use another light at a 45 degree angle on the opposite side, to fill in the intensity. This second light should only have a medium intensity. Finally, a weaker light can be positioned at an angle slightly behind you. You should also have a video call with a friend or coworker while positioning these, so that they can give you feedback on what looks the best. This setup can be highly dependent on the natural lighting in the room.
The final key element to a successful, high quality video call is the background. A professional backdrop or a clean and professional looking background is the best option. If you have the space, consider setting up a backdrop or curtains. If this isn’t an option for you, thankfully Zoom makes it possible to utilize a virtual background.
Click on the settings icon, then the virtual background option. Zoom comes pre-loaded with a few virtual backgrounds but you can upload your own as well. A simple background with your logo in one of the corners might be your best bet. Green screens enhance the usability of a virtual background, although you may still be able to use them without a green screen. If you are going to use a virtual background without having a green screen, make sure the area behind you is as solid and plain as possible. This will help to prevent blurring/fuzzing around your face and body.
There are a couple of great sources for high quality background images. If you have a paid Adobe account, you might have access to Adobe Stock, which has tens of thousands of exceptional images. You can also utilize unsplash.com. On Unsplash, every image uploaded is royalty-free and permission-free for use. You can search for “Zoom Background”, “Office Space”, or something similar and download the image for Zoom upload. While searching through the images, you can also filter by orientation (you’ll want to grab an image in landscape orientation for your background).
There are also a couple of factors to take into account when selecting your virtual background. First, you will want to pick an image that most closely matches the tones of light in your room. If you are utilizing a lot of natural light (and many florescent bulbs), you will likely have a lot of yellow undertones in your room. Many LED lights give off a more white/blue undertone, so you will want to look for a background that corresponds with this. Matching the tone of light will help to create a more seamless presentation, so that there isn’t such a stark contrast between you and your virtual background.
Finally, it is often helpful to select an image that has several levels of depth. For example, the circled corner in the image below makes the room look like it extends backwards deeper:
Whereas in the following image, there is a flat background without any layers of depth:
This is also highly dependent on the level and angle of your webcam (as well as how far away you are positioned from it). In many cases, choosing an image with layers of depth to it will create a more realistic look.
Hopefully these tips and tricks have been helpful in your studio setup. Please feel free to share any video-call tricks that you have learned with the Academy Team below in the comments, as we love to hear what has worked practically and are always looking to improve our video quality as well!
Technical Support Representative
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128