Create the Best Background for Web Conferencing
There are many aspects that go into pulling off a productive meeting. Web conferencing meetings are no different. When holding a web conference, one of the major aspects of a good meeting is the background. Along with procuring the right hardware and software, like Blue Jeans web conferencing software and a web cam and microphone equipped device, you need to make sure your background fits your needs.
Why Does the Background Matter?
The right background will help you and your web conference appear polished and professional. The wrong background will invite distractions, make it difficult for participants to see you and any hard visuals. When setting the stage for your next web meeting, pay attention to where you are, what lighting sources are available, and how the background makes you appear on camera.
Setting the Tone
The tone and type of web meeting you are hosting should play a part in chossing the setting. For example, if you are holding a formal web conference in which you need to display slideshows to help deliver information and illustrate points, a conference room might make the best setting for your web conference. UCSU notes that many businesses as well as most major universities, including UCSC, offer fully equipped conference rooms for employees and students to use. They explain that since web conferencing can be used for everything from forums and conferences to interviews and meetings, the setting should be professional, free from distractions, and equipped with tools such as slide projection screens.
Lighting in the Background
Lighting can really make or break a web conference. When choosing your lighting, the University of Iowa’s IT department suggests using soft lights that stream from in front of you: they explain that this is the kind of lighting used by television studios. Light that comes from in front of you will illuminate your face and make it easy for viewers to see you. On-the-other-hand, overhead and backlights can cause shadows that will distract and even obstruct participants view. Florescent lights are particularly harsh and distracting.
Control Colors and Patterns
When choosing the setting for your meeting, or selecting a backdrop, consider how paint and fabric colors will affect the on-camera perspective. The IT department of the University of Iowa explains that patterns and harsh lines should be avoided. White boards can be used as long as you are aware of the glare that they could potentially produce. In general, though, white and light colors can be harsh and cause glare. Darker colors are preferred for backgrounds, with the exception of red, which should be avoided. You should also make sure that your choice of clothing does not clash with the colors in your chosen background.
Wall Hangings and Windows
Wall hangings and windows can be troublesome when trying to create the perfect background for your web conference. Mr. Media Training, a source for learning how to hold meetings and conferences in a high tech business environment, explains that both exterior and interior windows can be problematic and should be avoided. Sitting in front of an exterior window can produce bright, glaring light that puts your face in shadow-to the point where your face can barely be seen. Exterior windows can also leave room for distractions as participants might see a window washer, lawn service worker, or other people bustling around outside your window. Interior windows are not likely to produce glaring light, but they do leave room for distractions as co-workers and others may be seen behind you-drawing the attention of other meeting participants. Mr. Media Training goes on to explain that wall hangings can also produce distractions. Reflective surfaces on mirrors and the glass coverings of pictures can produce glare that will cloud your web cam and make it difficult for yoru to be seen by conference participants. You should either take down any wall hangings that fall within range of your web cam, or cover them with a non-reflective material.
Framing Your Movements
Framing your face and your movements can help web conference viewers focus on the speaker, explains Mr. Media Training. You should avoid using a chair with a headrest as the headrest may awkwardly frame you face and stick out over your shoulders. Hand motions should fit within the frame of the camera’s viewing area. For close up shots, Mr. Media Training suggests that you keep your hand gestures framed between your collarbone and your ear-that way they will be seen in the shot. If you are walking while speaking, such as in front of a slide projection screen, try to stay within view and do not walk around too much. If you are using a mobile device to hold a meeting while using mobile web conferencing software and services, like those provided by Blue Jeans, you have less to worry about in framing your shot as you will likely be stationary and in a smaller setting, but try to hold the camera at an angle that produces a flattering frame.
Guest Author: Rosa Smith