Must-Haves for Online and Virtual Success!

Woman celebrating online and virtual success after learning how to improve virtual meetings and look and sound better online

Executive Stream Solutions was created by professional concert technicians to help YOU (not just world-class performers) to Look, Sound and Feel Amazing virtually anywhere online. You can read more about our story, and check out our MyOnline bundles and MyVideo cases. Subscribe to this blog for more tips and tricks!

 

There are many links in the chain between you and your virtual audience. The end result - what they see and hear of you - will only be as good as the weakest link in that chain.

You can also think of it like a triangle - You (how you look, sound and feel), your Computer, and your Internet Connection (your wifi router, your modem and your Internet Service Provider). All three sides need to be equally strong!

You have some degree of control over all three sides! If they are all strong, then the end result will be good. If any one of the sides of the triangle aren’t strong enough, then your online image (and that of the company you represent) is likely to be harmed.

A triangle with you on one side, your computer on another and your internet connection on the third side. 

Here's what you can do to improve each side of the triangle

We've created this guide to help anyone up their game - no serious technical knowledge needed!

 

Side 1 - You

  • How you look and sound - having the right lighting, microphone and camera are CRITICAL to your online image. Imagine meeting a client in shabby clothes and mumbling! Our MyOnline packages include lights, microphones and cameras - all easy to use and tested by us, performance experts, to provide excellent results.
  • How you feel - many people forget this! They know they need good lights, microphone and camera. But how you feel is just as important! Confident? In control? The custom coded meeting control plugins for the Stream Deck (included in our Pro packages) make screen sharing and presenting online a breeze. If you aren’t worried about what menu to click, you feel more confident and can connect with other people better.

(When you need help, ESS products offer a perfect solution!)

 

Side 2 - Your Computer

 A typewriter connected to an old TV set to look like a computer

Software

  • Make sure your Operating System and Applications are updated as necessary for the core software, features and functionality you need.
    • ALWAYS make sure you have a current backup before attempting any updates or upgrades, and check system requirements of the new versions before updating software. Be aware that some applications may not function with new operating systems, check the respective websites for compatibility information.
    • Mac - click System Preferences from the Apple menu ( top left corner of your screen) and then look for Software Update.
    • Windows - Click the Windows icon in the task bar (bottom left corner of your screen). This opens up the start menu. Click “All Programs” then click “Windows Update”. Wait for it to open, then select “Check for Updates” (top left of the window). When it has finished checking, click “Install”. You may need to restart your computer after installing.
  • If the meeting / conference is run through your browser, make sure you are using a modern browser, for example Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Microsoft Edge.
  • It's also usually a good idea to ensure your virtual meeting application ("client") is up-to-date:
    • To update Zoom, first sign into the desktop client. Then, click your profile picture and click “Check for Updates”.
    • Microsoft Teams automatically updates itself, however you can check for updates yourself if you wish - click your profile picture and click “Check for Updates”.
    • GoToMeeting also automatically updates itself - you can turn this off, but you may be forced to update when you join a meeting.
    • For Cisco Webex, click “Update” in the top right corner of the desktop app, or click the gear icon and “Check for Updates”

Hardware

You can find the recommended specs for the main VIrtual Meeting platforms here:

How to find your computer’s specs:

  • Mac
    • In the top left corner of your screen click the Apple icon and select “About This Mac”
    • The “Overview” tab will provide basic info such as Operating System version, memory and processor.
    • For more detail click the “System Report” button on the Overview tab.
  • Windows
    • For basic specs, right click the Windows icon and select “System”
    • For more detail, click the Windows icon and select “System Information”

 

 

Side 3 - Your Internet Connection

Router with ethernet cables attached

Home networking can seem daunting. There are many excellent guides available on the internet for different hardware and ISPs (Internet Service Providers). We aren’t going to recreate them here, just cover the basics.

Note that your internet speed will be affected by your ISP’s bandwidth, your WiFI router’s bandwidth, and the number of devices using your bandwidth. “Bandwidth” is like the width of a water pipe - the wider the pipe, the more water can flow. It’s no good having a 500 Mbps ISP service if your router can only handle 100 Mbps! Check your Internet Speed and compare your ISP’s performance here speedtest.net

 

Cables

  • Just like with anything, the cables you use matters. Best to use Cat 6 ethernet or better, and check them regularly to ensure they aren’t slipping out of their sockets.
  • If you can connect your computer to the router via cable instead of WiFi, it will provide a more reliable connection. You may still need to connect your computer to a wifi network to adjust brightness and colour temperature on Elgato's Key Light Airs 

 

WiFi Router

  • How old is it? Your router needs at minimum to support 802.11 b/g/n. However if it’s more than a few years old, it may not be able to keep up with the number of devices we connect these days. Computers, laptops, tablets, phones, voice assistants, thermostats, doorbells and others from the ever growing Internet of Things (IoT).
  • If you have good coverage over most of your home or office, consider using an extender to boost the weak spot. However, if coverage is poor, you probably need to get a newer model. For larger areas, consider a Mesh kit - multiple wifi points which are designed to act together seamlessly.
  • Distance matters! The more walls and floors the signal has to travel through, the more degraded it gets. Consider moving the WiFi router nearer to your work area (or even better, put it in your office and use a hardwired ethernet connection to your computer)

 

Your Modem

  • Most ISP’s supply a standard modem. If you’ve upgraded your service, you may want to check that your modem can handle the new speeds. Check with your ISP - they may offer upgraded versions, or you can buy your own. If you sign a new contract, make sure they send you a new, up-to-date modem!

 

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)

  • Choice of provider is usually limited (because cities don’t want 7 different ISP’s digging up streets to lay cable!). It is worth shopping around, and there are comparison services available.
  • Whichever ISP you choose, they will have different bandwidth (speed) options. Here’s what we recommend for Virtual Meetings. Note your upload speed needs to meet these requirements too!

 

Quality Example Upload & Download bandwidth
OK-ish   2 person meeting with low resolution At least 1 Mbps up & down
Good  (2-6 people, HD video)
At least 3 Mbps up & down
Great  More people, screen sharing etc.
At least 6 Mbps up & down

 

 

 

Woman smiling with computer

Other great tips for online and virtual success!

All of us at ESS use these tips and strategies every day on our video calls, remote presentations and virtual meetings.

  • Make sure your lighting looks natural. For example, if the light coming in through your windows is bright daylight (white / blue) while most indoor lighting is more orange colored (“tungsten”). Adjust the lighting on you to match the surrounding light color (or the lighting in your virtual background!) For instance, only blue daylight color or orange tungsten color. Otherwise mixing and matching lighting “temperatures” (blue to orange) looks odd, even if you can’t place a finger on why. The lighting ESS sells has fully adjustable color temperature to solve for this.
  • Don’t sit with a window or a bright light behind you! You need more lighting from in front of you than behind. Adding even one light next to your computer will help. In an emergency, you can turn your screen brightness all the way up - be aware that it may give you a blue tinge though!
  • Think about where your microphone is (“mic placement”). It needs to be aimed at your mouth, and the closer the better. Not right in front of your face though - people need to be able to see your lips move while you talk. It’s better to have a mic visible on screen (“in shot”) and sound great, than to try to hide the mic and sound awful.
  • It’s advisable not to wear clothing with patterns, stripes or plaids. On camera, these can cause a weird glitching effect called moiré:
A Moiré pattern
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don't make it claustrophobic - have a little depth, keep it tidy. If you’re using a virtual background then a flat wall behind you will help around your head and hair (or a green screen, or even hanging a sheet!). However if you aren’t using a virtual background, then consider staging something behind you to help your image seem interesting but not cluttered.
  • Warm up your voice! Seriously - with working from home, many of us aren’t talking as much as we would in the office. Your voice can sound nasal or thin if you haven’t spoken in a while so blast out a favorite singalong song 10 minutes before your meeting. It’ll pump you up too!
  • 15 minutes before the first meeting of the day, do a quick test run. Fire up your meeting client and start a meeting with yourself. This will enable you to check your camera, mic, lights and meeting controls are working, choose an appropriate virtual background, and make sure you look presentable.
  • A tip for everyone, borrowed from the TV and Film world - use foundation and or matte powder to reduce shiny skin and improve skin tone. Even healthy people can look pale on camera. Most people who appear on camera professionally use it. You can even use a dab of concealer as needed!
  • Schedule a few minutes in between each meeting, and make it clear at the start of each meeting that you need to end on time. Back to back virtual meetings can feel much more draining with no time in between them.
  • Get up and move around between meetings. Have a walk and a stretch, maybe even do some yoga, or a few pull-ups / push-ups if you can. This will get your blood flowing and keep your brain well oxygenated so you can think clearly.
  • Advanced tip - You can use a free software platform such as OBS to mix multiple cameras, and / or overlay graphics on the video. OBS creates a “virtual camera” which your virtual meeting application (e.g. Zoom / Teams / Webex / GoToMeeting etc.) can use as video input. Other paid and more advanced options exist, too.
  • On a very slow connection (e.g. cell / mobile), as a last resort, turn off your video. This will hopefully keep your connection alive so you can hear and speak to others.
  • Don’t sit too far away from or too close to the camera. Or too low / high. Ideal is showing head and shoulders, with a small gap between your head and the top of the image. Something like this:
Up your virtual game with ESS
  • Try to have your webcam just above the screen, and slightly above your head height. (For ergonomics, your screen should be at eye level). Eye contact is critical in interpersonal communication. It’s common to look at the other people on the screen while we are talking or listening, If the camera is too high, or off to one side then it looks like you aren’t engaging with other people.
  • Shut out noise and distractions. It’s a basic courtesy for the others on the video call. Close your windows if there is a risk of loud noise. Close the door if you can, to keep out pets / kids etc. Mute your microphone if you aren’t talking. (Easy with our custom-programmed fingertip meeting controller!)


We could continue, because helping people up their online game is our passion! If you have any questions at all about improving your online experience then don’t hesitate to contact us! We want to help you improve your virtual meetings, whether you become a customer or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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