I am asked time and again how to conduct webinars and video conferences. There are of course thousands of sites on the Internet that give excellent tips. Nevertheless, I would like to share briefly and simply some of my personal experiences. In the past few days and weeks, I too have increasingly resorted to the format of video conferencing or webinars. Although I am a trained television man, I have also learned a lot here. My ten essentials:
Webinar Rule 1: Ensure a quiet environment
The most important thing for me is a really quiet environment. The neighbour’s lawn mower, the traffic noise, the screaming baby in the neighbourhood or your partner talking loud on the phone can be quite distracting. This may sound banal, but when the weather is fine outside, it is easy to lose sight of this. In any case, it has happened to me a few times that I moved into the sunny garden with my computer and was interrupted by a loud noise in the middle of my lecture. This distracts me unbelievably and is also not pleasant for my listeners. Sometimes these noises are not so clearly audible even for yourself, but they disturb the other conference participants immensely. And since you want to get your message across properly, you should switch off every disturbing factor here. I have therefore reserved a quiet corner in my room in which I have been conducting such conferences ever since.
Webinar Rule 2: A nice background keeps the picture healthy
The background is of course very important. In the meantime, you can find a lot of examples on the internet of how embarrassing it can be when, for example, your partner walks through the picture only moderately dressed. Today’s video conferencing programs usually offer the possibility of at least focusing the background or even hiding it completely and replacing it with your digital wallpaper. This should be used in any case, if you don’t have a calm background per se. I have downloaded several wallpapers which I find quite funny. A great address for me as a Yoda fan are for example the Star Wars pages.
Webinar Rule 3: Lighting comes before enlightenment
I don’t know about you, but it bothers me immensely when I only ever look into the dark faces of my counterpart. That’s why good lighting is especially important. Please never place directly in front of a window or other light source, no camera can compensate for the difference in brightness. A small LED ring light on the laptop, for example, is not expensive and can also help to compensate shadows in the face. I ordered something like that for eight euros on the internet and have been very satisfied ever since. In any case, use the opportunity to optimize your video image once again via the settings, i.e. to choose the right image section, adjust the colors and if necessary, adjust the white balance. This can be done very easily with any conferencing software.
Webinar Rule 4: Powdering instead of shining
Why do TV presenters usually look fresher than us common people? Simply because they have make-up in front of the camera. I also use this for video conferencing. Especially during a webinar with many people in front of me, I powder myself at least briefly to avoid sweaty skin or having stains on my face. The effect is amazing for me, at least. So get to the tassel, you guys!
Webinar Rule 5: Make sure you get the right angle
The correct height of the camera is also crucial. It is best if the camera is at a height or in line with your eyes. i.e. you look straight into the lens. I simply use a cardboard wine box for this. It’s cheap and can be easily recycled afterwards. Speaking of simple: Even a decent sound is no witchcraft. I usually use my microphone on the laptop itself, or a small clip-on microphone and headphones.
Webinar Rule 6: Reactions desired
I love being on stage and interacting with my audience. That’s why I find it most difficult to speak into a camera during a webinar for more than half an hour or longer without witnessing the reaction of my audience. I therefore usually dial into the conference with my iPad as a guest in order to watch the webinar myself. That works great for me. But I avoid watching myself all the time. But as a kind of feedback loop, I find it very pleasant to be able to watch myself from time to time.
Webinar Rule 7: Not in sweatpants
What applies to the home office also applies to every webinar and every conference. I dress as if I were standing in front of an audience. With the baggy sweatpants, I just can’t get the focus for me to get across the camera really well. Even though you can’t see them in the camera picture of course. How did Karl Lagerfeld once say? Whoever wears sweatpants has lost control over his life. I love sweatpants, but not in a video conference.
Webinar Rule 8: The proof of the pudding is in the eating
When it comes to technology, I’m a control freak. I do a technical dry run before every conference. This applies not only to the connection itself but also to the materials used. I just don’t want to struggle with my PowerPoint during the webinar, try to get the sound right, or play a movie. It simply helps me if I have tried it out beforehand. Then I know it works and I can fully concentrate on my conference and content.
Webinar Rule 9: Safety first
I’m someone who likes to talk with my hands. Also in webinars. On more than one occasion I almost had an accident, almost spilling the glass in my hand on the computer keyboard in the heat of the moment. I always use a silicone protection cover for the keyboard on my laptop. Then nothing can happen to the liquid.
Webinar Rule 10: Have fun
Very important for me this rule: Have fun. Try yourselves. Enjoy your webinars, video conferences, and online discussions. Staying at home also has its good sides. Not traveling, having more time for other things, and still being in touch with the world, that’s what these webinars, conferences, and meetings are perfect for.