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Lights, action, webcam: How to make your virtual meetings look great

Kevin Jacoby's picture

by Kevin Jacoby on 08/19/2020
Blog Category: devices

Your virtual meetings — and those of your customers — don’t have to look and sound so lousy.

Sure, with the Work From Home movement in full swing (thanks, global pandemic!), virtual meetings have become part of daily life. But too many meetings are being spoiled by images that are less than flattering and audio that’s nearly incomprehensible.

How to improve? Take a cue from Hollywood and focus on the Big 3: image quality, lighting and sound.

Image quality: Looks sell

There’s a fair to middling chance your webcam is pretty awful. Even Apple, the undisputed heavyweight of aesthetics, missed the boat with the forward-facing cameras in its otherwise beautiful MacBook Pro and iMac models.

If your customers are tired of appearing as grainy, low-res versions of themselves, try introducing them to a full-HD webcam.

One example is Logitech’s C920 HD PRO. For just shy of $80, this sleek clip-on webcam delivers full 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second (fps).

Logitech C920 HD PRO webcam

Logitech webcam: excels where your laptop falls short

Behind a real glass lens sits Logitech’s rather smart brain, which can auto-correct for various high- and low-light conditions. Never again will your customers end up looking like the Creature from the Black Lagoon while delivering quarterly sales figures.

Note: Logitech says it’s experiencing unprecedented demand for webcams these days. Indeed, the popular C920 HD Pro is currently back-ordered on major sites including Newegg.com and BestBuy.com. But if you or your customers are in a rush, it can be purchased at a premium on Amazon.

Lighting: Fiat lux

While a smart webcam can correct a multitude of visual sins, even the most sophisticated software controlled lens is but lowly aspirin when compared with the panacea of a well-placed light.

Even better, the right light doesn’t have to be expensive. Nor must it be big, hot or an electrical vampire.

Case in point: the QIAYA Selfie Light Ring. It’s a compact and rechargeable clip-on ring light that goes easily wherever a meeting happens to be.

QIAYA Selfie Light Ring

Qiaya clip-on light: keeping the shadows at bay

QIAYA’s light is also cheap, selling for less than $20 on Amazon. Yet it offers a rechargeable battery that can help save the planet. And 3 levels of brightness, so you can dial in the right level without having to hire a director of photography.

Why a circle of LEDs? The ring shape fits around just about any digital lens. This is a popular configuration because it helps maintain an even dispersion of light — even if you’re one of those people who bobs and weaves all through the weekly marketing meeting.

But the best reason to grab a decent light for Zoom meetings is this: Your customers will look way better than their co-workers. How can you put a price tag on that?

Sound: Now hear this

Bad sound can make a 20-minute virtual meeting feel like a nickel-tour through Dante’s Inferno.

“Now, if you burn your aplension t- djionehey, Yo.. (slience…) FIND THE PUTTING NICENESS! Crumberry thinkings. Everyone clear on that? Ok, moving on.”

Fortunately, there’s no need to repeat yourself. Instead, get a decent mic.

Any audio engineer will tell you that an affordable mic, if used wisely, will sound better than a $10,000 vintage Telefunken in the hands of an imbecile. In other words, you don’t have to spend a ton to sound good.

In fact, you can sound great with a simple, well-built USB mic like the Yeti Nano by Blue. It will help you achieve a clear, commanding tone that says (with style), “Let’s leave it at that, folks. I have a meeting with Bill Gates in 5 minutes.”

Yeti Nano mic

Yeti Nano mic: pay a little extra, reap big dividends

Yes, the Yeti costs as much as the Logitech webcam and QIAYA light ring combined. But that’s still shy of $100. And the value of not having to constantly repeat yourself? Priceless.

Also, as you hand the gift of great audio to your customer, tell them to keep the windscreen on the same plane as their chin, and to stay about 5 inches away. That will avoid those extra p-p-plosives and s-s-sibilants. The mic will do the rest.

Yes, it’s worth it

When it comes to gear for improving video meetings, your sales pitch can be simple. Better video can help create better video meetings. And since virtual meetings are the best we can do right now, we may as well get good at them.

Who knows, maybe raising the quality of our audio and video will help raise the quality of our discourse, too. Either way, extra hardware sales could help raise the level of your revenue.

That would look and sound good, wouldn’t it?

 

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