Before a recent video presentation, I conducted an audience survey that revealed that 20% of the people on the call were burned out from too many virtual meetings and that another 30% didn’t like attending videoconferences. This means that before I even began my presentation, 50% of the people I was talking to were having trouble engaging with the meeting.
These types of headwinds should be expected. As I observed hundreds of virtual meetings since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I noticed audiences disconnecting from the programs and not benefiting from the information presented. Here are tips you can use at home to make your videoconferences look professional and to engage your audience.
Your home office probably has windows that allow natural light to illuminate the room. When presenting online, avoid being lit from behind because it’s harder to see your facial expressions. Instead, put the light source in front of you, behind the camera. This make you the best-lit figure in the audience’s field of vision.
The camera in your home computer isn’t designed to enhance your features. If possible, buy an external camera and position it slightly above eye level so that it looks down on you from above. You want your forehead and eyes to be slightly exaggerated and your lower face to be diminished. This makes your head appear more baby-shaped (larger forehead and eyes and smaller chin) and activates an instinctive positive reaction in adults.
Until you get an external camera and learn how to use it, elevate your laptop on a box or pedestal so that the camera looks down on you. Keeping it flat on a table at eye level exaggerates your chin and jawline and diminishes your eyes, forehead and temples. This creates a cartoon-like appearance, making you seem less real. Some people find this distortion emotionally disturbing and will struggle to follow your narrative.