Remote Meetings Don't have to Suck.
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
You know the drill, "Who just joined the meeting"... "You are on mute"... "Can you hear me now" etc... Add to that those annoying beeps or dings whenever anyone joins a meeting, conference calls suck!
With more and more people working from home, these have become the new norm, and they are exasperated now with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our office has closed and everyone had been told to work form home. Enter more and more people asking "Can you hear me now".
Calls like this might work when they are for an internal audience, but what happens when you cannot travel to a customer site and you need to perform a demo or deliver a pitch? Nothing beats being there in person, you can read the room, adjust your form or the subject based on feedback, not so much on a conference call, even when you are sharing your screen, in fact it is impossible.
All is not lost, my pre-sales partners. With a small investment and some prep, you can turn your remote presentations into something that your customers will not forget and you can even get them to engage more than ever, in a remote setting.
First of all, hopefully your company uses a good platform like Zoom. Since that is what I use, I will base my instructions on Zoom.
So I have Zoom, a laptop and my air-pods, am I good to go? Well the answer is, it depends. What sort of impact do you want to, need to make to your customer. Sure it will be acceptable but who wants to be ordinary? Not me... and hopefully not you either.
Make sure your video camera is a good one, usually the inbuilt camera on a Mac is pretty good, but I have seen mixed results on Windows PCs, due to the variety of hardware options. You can get an inexpensive WebCam that has a great lens and works well in many different light conditions.
While I am on the subject, light it very important. If you are an amateur photographer, you know what I mean. It can make a pretty bad camera look great, and if the light is bad it doesn't matter what camera you are using, it will be bad.
Make sure you either have a lot of natural light or at least some good (diffused) artificial light. Usually a well positioned lamp will do the trick.
Don't sit with a window behind you, or in some cases to the side, you never want to be backlit, it is not flattering.
Check out this video on lighting.
If at all possible, try to avoid calling into your meeting on your phone, the bandwidth available through a phone call is very small and it rarely delivers a good audio experience.
Don't use your laptop mic, just don't. If you are going to use headphones, make sure the mic part of the headphones is actually close to your mouth.
Ideally invest in an external USB microphone, there are lots of options. If you really want to feel cool, try something like the Yeticaster bundle from Blue. Not only is it an awesome setup, but it kind of makes you feel like you are a radio DJ, and take it form me, it sounds like you are in the room with your customers.
Zoom makes it very easy to share content, from a power point to any part of your desktop. Did you know you can also share your iPad or iPhone using a cable or AirPlay? Yes, and this gives you the ability to use your iPad and pencil as a whiteboard and zoom also allows your customers to add to your drawing in realtime! Impressive, right?
You can use virtual backgrounds natively in Zoom, too insert a background into your video, to hide your kitchen or messy office. These look good, but if you want them to look great, you can use a green screen and take advantage of the Zoom chromakey feature. This looks really impressive, particularly if you use a custom company branded background.
(virtual background only, no green screen)
If you really want to impress you can use a video program like OBS, https://obsproject.com (free) or ManyCam https://manycam.com to insert graphics in your video feed, like a name across the bottom of the screen or even a video overlay of your power point or your whiteboard.
(Thats me in the corner, using ManyCam on a Mac)
Just because you cant travel, doesn't mean you have to deliver a substandard experience to your customer. I think if we all step up our zoom game, we can deliver a highly engaging customer experience for our clients, in addition to the critical in person meetings.
I hope this helps, and please feel free to comment below.