Looking Your Best Online
The technology requirements fall into four categories:
- Internet connection
- We strongly recommend 3.0 Mbs up/down at minimum if wired and 10Mbs if on wifi. Test your connection speed with speedtest.net. Using a wired connection can often greatly improve your connection. Depending on your location (and the presence of other wifi hotspots) a wifi connection can be quite variable.
- We strongly recommend a headset to separate out the audio you are hearing and your own voice. A headset (or headphones / microphone) also helps reduce the impact of background noise. Participants should get into the habit of muting themselves when they are not speaking.
- Most recent laptops are perfectly fine
- Webcams can be an improvement. The logitech C920 is a solid option.
Depending on your hardware, you may need an additional equipment to supplement your audio equipment. Zoom automatically does audio cancellation. Having a headset separates out the audio coming from other participants and the audio you are contributing and makes for a much cleaner sound.
Headphones or earbuds will help with the audio quality of your call. Even though Zoom and similar services are pretty good at isolating outgoing sound (i.e. the sounds from other callers), it can create a bit of fuzziness and echo. Headphones helps clean that up and will also eliminate other sounds your computer might make, such as email notifications.
Headsets combine headphones with a microphone. These mics are meant to record one's voice at close proximity, so they are often an upgrade to laptop microphones but not as good as a separated headphone/earbud and microphone setup.
Whenever possible, try to bring the camera to your eyeline, this will ensure your looking directly into the camera and will offer both a flattering angle to view your face and will reduce strain comes with craning your neck upwards or looking downward.
If you're on a web call, try to fill the frame with your head and shoulders, allowing a bit of room ("headspace") above the top of your head. A good rule of thumb is to take 1/3 of your screen with your image.
If you're in a room with a window or other strong light source, try to set up facing the light. If you have the light source behind you, your camera will often adjust to it and you'll end up a darkened silouette. If you have the light source on either side of you, you may find once side of your face blown out. Facing the light source allows your camera to adjust accordingly.
Ensure you minimize distracting elements in your background. If the backdrop is unavoidable, try using a virtual background for the video stream. If using a virtual background ensure that your lighting is good. Virtual backgrounds can be glitchy. At their best they are subtle, but done poorly they are disruptive to your video as the software calculates what is background and what is subject.
Solid colours are better than patterns. Some patterns (like Herringbone) can be very distracting.
Glasses and Jewelry
Have a piece of silk or microfibre nearby your workstation to clean glasses with. Smudges are very evident in the light reflected from your computer screens or other light sources.
A backchannel is an alternate communication platform with which to communicate with fellow moderators, hosts or presenters. Some recommendations:
- Private chat in Zoom or Collaborate Ultra
- A group chat in Slack or WhatsApp
A backchannel can be used to provide feedback on video and audio quality, sequence questions, and to communicate if someone becomes disconnected.
Secondary screens & devices
Having a secondary screen gives you more screen space, allowing you to look up links, manage the backchannel and have documents that need to be referred during the call easily.
If you're presenting or moderating, joining a session using a second device (such as a tablet or smartphone) can show you what the session looks like for a participant. You should make sure this device is muted, so as not to cause an echo or feedback.
"The Credibility Bookcase"