As a corporate magician, I’ve performed at TONS of virtual meetings. I’ve seen it all, so here’s 10 tips that will help you be a better presenter, host, or attendant in virtual meetings.
1. Mute Yourself
Background noise can be distracting, so always mute yourself when you’re not speaking. This will also stop the meeting software from cutting to your video feed at the wrong moment. It can also create feedback and echos in Zoom.
If possible, learn how to mute and unmute with the keyboard (Sometimes it’s just the space bar!). Using the keyboard is fast and easy, and it will keep you from making unwanted interruptions.
If you’re presenting, learn how to MUTE ALL in your platform. For Zoom, this is Command(⌘)+Control+M. Muting All will be a BIG help if you hear distracting noises during your presentation, but can’t figure out who the offending account is.
2. Learn Your Platform
Whichever platform you use (Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.), it’s important to learn the software as best you can. After a year of doing virtual meeting entertainment for corporate clients, I feel I know zoom better than anyone.
The most important things to learn are:
- how to pin users (make a specific user fill up your screen)
- how to spotlight users (make a specific user fill up everyone’s screen)
- how to mute/unmute, and turn camera on/off
Remember, when you share your screen, people can see everything on your desktop. This includes browser tabs, documents, and your background image. Some software lets you share a screen while ignoring desktop items, windows, and images. Learn how to do it!
3. Location, Location, Location
Don’t have a private home office? Try to find a space where you can lock a door to minimize interruptions. Even your bedroom will be fine as long as you keep the bed out of frame.
If you must be in a public space, invest in a good pair of noise canceling headphones. Active Noise Cancellation means you won’t have to blast the sound, and a good headphone mic means your guests will hear YOU, not your background noise.
4. The Setting
If you ARE in a home office… make it look great! You don’t need to buy a ton of books to make yourself look smart (yes… this is actually a thing!). Just have a background that looks clean and isn’t distracting. For examples on what to do (and what not to do) check out the twitter account Rate My Room.
Many programs let you have a virtual background as well. Just keep it appropriate for the audience.
5. Lighting Matters (a lot!)
The main reason people don’t look good in a virtual meeting is because the lighting isn’t bright enough, or because the lighting is positioned in an unflattering manner. If possible, put a lamp slightly above your webcam, either behind or just off to the side. This will ensure your face gets lots of light.
I highly recommend key lights from Elgato. But no matter what you use, make sure your face isn’t in shadow, or bathed in the spooky blue glow of the screen. This happen when the only light is directly overhead or behind you.
6. Don’t Upgrade Your Camera – Upgrade Your Sound
Your internal webcam is perfectly fine for 99% of all virtual meeting situations. Virtual meeting software like Zoom and Google Meet rarely get 720p resolution. And you can forget about 1080p or 4k!
You’ll get a much better bang for your buck by purchasing an external USB microphone. I recommend the Blue Yeti. But even a $35 USB mic like the FiFine will sound WAY better than any internal mic.
7. Best Behavior
Be Professional: Give the presenters your full attention, and try to avoid multitasking during the call. Don’t forget the truism: People are interested in those who are interested in THEM. If you have to type during the meeting, don’t forget that mute button!
Dress Appropriately: When I perform, I always wear a dress shirt that contrasts well with my background. This helps me stand out. Avoid busy patterns… they won’t look good in a small browser window.
Don’t Eat: Drinking is fine. I’ve done my zoom magic show at many virtual cocktail hours. However, eating on screen is definitely a faux pas. If you must eat, I strongly recommend doing so while your webcam is off. And remember… muting is always a good idea!
8. Test Your Network
Test your camera, mic, and software before jumping on the call. The last thing you want to do is steal 5 minutes of everyone’s valuable time to troubleshoot an issue.
If you’re on a slower network, disable any automatic downloads in the background. In fact, go with a wired ethernet connection whenever possible. I installed ethernet in my home studio for my virtual shows, and I’ve never once had a lost connection.
9. Take Breaks!
If you’re hosting an all-day or partial-day virtual meeting, don’t forget to schedule breaks. This will give your team time to grab a bite and recharge.
If you’re attending a long event, make sure to sit in a chair with good back support. Reclining leads to sleeping!
10. Roll with the Punches
Unexpected things can and will go wrong. Pets or young children may walk into frame. You might spill your coffee on your shirt. The power could go out.
No matter what happens… the important thing is to remain professional, and to never lose your cool! Keep a sense of humor, and deal with the unexpected as quickly as you can. You’ll look like a total pro.
BONUS: Meetings Don’t Have To Be Boring!
My virtual magic shows are designed for corporate audiences, and can be added to any virtual employee event. I can help your company connect to your employees in a fun, magical way. If you’d like to make your next meeting more memorable and amazing, please reach out!