The switch to remote working when the pandemic took hold back in 2020 took a lot of us by surprise. Fast forward a few years, and virtual meetings are now old hat for us. But what about those big, important meetings where we want to ‘command the stage’ and operate with a level of authority and gravitas?
It's tempting to opt for the easy option and sit glued to the chair whilst we talk. We might not have considered the lighting in the room, the angle of the camera or which presenting position we are most comfortable in. But the truth is this doesn't really set us up for success at a time where we need to have maximum impact on our audience.
Investing in equipment might sound daunting and expensive, but there are a few key, relatively low cost items that can really help you operate productively, feel confident in doing so, and really help lift the energy levels and interaction in the virtual room.
I’m going to run through some of the most useful items below – when making your choices consider:
I’ve included one example for each item of equipment just to give you an idea, but take the time to do a little bit of research to ensure that what you are buying fits your needs and the space you work in.
These are really useful to enable you to operate your laptop at eye level. Not only does this help you minimise hunched up shoulders and a stiff neck, but sitting tall enables you to breath more deeply and feel more confident. They are inexpensive, and offer a much more ergonomic solution to desk working.
Whilst most laptops have a camera built in, screens used with a PC don’t, and an independent webcam often provides a better image and functionality, including being able to move it around to suit the situation you are in. A webcam can be fixed to the top of your laptop, enabling better eye level connection with your audience, and they are usually quite adaptable pieces of kit that can flex and adapt depending on the nature of your call.
Getting the lighting right in your room is really important. Too dark and everything looks ghostly and sinister! Too bright and everything glows, with reflections being distracting and making things hard to see. A ring light positioned behind your camera/laptop provides a subtle light to your face creating a clear picture and ensuring that you can see and be seen – body language makes up approximately 55% of our how our message communication is interpreted, so it’s important that people can see you clearly.
Standing desks are becoming increasing popular for their perceived health benefits, but they are also very useful for positioning your camera at eye line if you want to stand and present – it saves the precarious balancing of your laptop on a big pile of books! Standing up to present not only allows you to own the space and elevate your level of impact, but it can also help you feel more confident and in control. Most standing desks are height adjustable so you can also use them for sitting down and some, like the example below, are pretty stream-lined.
There are lots of options available for adjustable desks, with a broad range of price tags too. They are really great for quick and easy switching between a sitting desk and standing desk. You might not want to stand up all the time, but being able to have the flexibility to alternate between standing up and sitting down is really useful. They are also very handy for being able to quickly set your desk up for standing up to present or host meetings – preparation time is minimal and pretty hassle-free.
Not only can you pretend that you’re a DJ in a recording booth when you’ve got one of these on your desk, but they do really improve sound quality – and sound reach. A lot of laptop microphones can be quite one dimensional in their reach so unless you are sitting right in front of them, they don’t pick up the sound. An independent microphone will pick up sound from further away and also ensure your audience can hear you clearly and at the right volume.
This is the most expensive additional item so not top of the priority list for everyone. However, if you do a lot of virtual presentations – and presentations that use slides – then this additional screen can become invaluable as it allows you to use Presenter View when presenting with PowerPoint Slides on video calls. That way your audience get to enjoy the slide show but you will also be able to see both your powerpoint notes and the upcoming slide. This makes presenting much slicker, and gets rid of the need for printed out notes and the distracting shuffling of paper. Personally, I find this set up provides a big boost to my confidence levels.
This article was written by Natalie Forkin, Fearless Coach.