Setting the stage for a great video meeting presents a conundrum:
The environment should appear natural, as though you haven’t put any effort into it. Achieving that look, however, requires effort.
Luckily, you don’t have to puzzle over that for too long—lots of help is available when it comes to making your video conferences appear effortless. Below we’ve assembled a list of video conferencing products, apps, plugins, and tools you can use to pull off a video conference that achieves both professional quality and the appearance of minimal stress. Find the best combination for you, and you’ll have mastered the art of hosting video conferences that make people feel like they’re in the same room.
Video Conferencing Equipment: Top Recommendations For A Professional Call
First, you have to have the right equipment to capture video. That starts with your webcam. You might be surprised to learn that this doesn’t matter as much as you think. As long as it’s capable of providing a clear picture and stable feed, you’re covered. And let’s face it: It’s 2021. Most people have some sort of webcam to use, often built right into their computer. But if you’re considering purchasing a dedicated webcam for your video meeting platforms, try Logitech’s Pro HD webcam, which won best honors from Wirecutter.
Most people don’t realize how much good lighting can liven up their appearance.
My favorite lighting product for video meeting platforms is the Viltrox VL200t. It’s not a huge product and it’s not heavy. Instead, it uses LED lighting—requiring very little power—to create ambient lighting that helps you avoid looking like you live in a cave.
Here’s my favorite trick: Don’t aim the lights directly at you. Direct lighting can be uncomfortable and create a harsh look on the webcam. Instead, bounce the lights off the wall in front of you. The light that bounces off the wall will have a consistent, soft quality that’s ideal for video conferencing.
It’s not that hard to get good audio quality. These days, AirPods and headsets can pick up your voice perfectly well.
The problem is when the audio equipment gets invasive and distracting. That’s why I recommend using equipment that is as inconspicuous as possible. Remember, our goal here is to project effortlessness. If you show up to a video meeting with a giant microphone in front of your face, it breaks the illusion of a casual conversation (and looks like you’re doing radio instead).
Here are some other audio equipment needs to consider:
- Noise cancelation. Your first choice may be to select a pair of noise-canceling headphones. But this only controls the noise you hear. For canceling the noise coming from your end, you might consider a noise cancelation app like Krisp. Krisp uses artificial intelligence to automatically remove background noise, from lawnmowers to dogs barking.
- Earbuds. Apple’s EarPods will help you “hide” the microphone. They’ll also help your voice come in loud and clear. These are good choices if you want to create an atmosphere that mimics in-person talking, with minimally-invasive audio equipment.
- A lapel microphone. Also known as a “lavalier” microphone, this can be a great way to get clear audio without having an obstructive microphone break the illusion. It’s also easy to hide a microphone like this to make its presence less obvious.
One quick word of warning: don’t forget to disconnect your audio equipment when you’re done. It’s common for people who aren’t used to a lapel microphone to step away and forget they’re still plugged in!
People on the other end of the call can see everything behind you, so it’s up to you to be selective about what you choose to put there. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Avoid cartoony “green space.” If your first thought is to invest in a green screen so you can customize your background, be warned: It can create an unprofessional look. Even little details like weird pixelation between your fingers can throw off the appearance of professionalism.
- Create a psychological workspace. It’s important to find a way to separate your workspace from your personal space. Creating a separate workspace also shows people you’re taking their meeting seriously.
- Consider branding. If you can show enthusiasm for your brand without saying a word, that’s a win. One small investment in your branding can completely change the appearance of your backdrop and elevate a video meeting to a higher level of professionalism.
An Anyvoo custom backdrop satisfies all the criteria above. You can customize this physical backdrop in any way you like, and move it in and out of your space as needed.
One caveat with backdrops: Take your time selecting the one you want. Consider how you’ll actually use it. For example, people using it in a sales context prefer a branded backdrop, but people who want it for both business and personal use may choose a stock background, such as brick.
And make sure to select a backdrop that will help you stand out in the foreground. If your background is too much like your usual attire or your skin tone, it may be difficult for webcams to separate the two and provide the clear image you want.
Video Meeting Platforms & Tools
Video Meeting App Selections
We reached out to other businesses to see what they thought were the best video meeting apps. Here were some of the answers:
- Cisco Webex. Rex Freiberger, CEO of Gadget Review, called this “one of the best tools for video conferencing. I’ve…reviewed countless others and Webex Meetings is, in my mind, the absolute best available,” said Freiberger. Worth noting: It has extensive whiteboarding tools that make it easy to collaborate with team members.
- Slack. According to Robin Antill, Founder & CEO of Leisure Buildings, “Slack is the king… the best video conferencing tool out there.” Slack’s ability to integrate with other tools like Google Docs makes it ideal for business collaboration.
- Zoom. Who isn’t familiar with Zoom? It’s the company whose stock ascended when the world went to video conferencing in 2020, and it’s likely going to be here for a long time as a top provider in secure video meetings.
Applications That Supplement & Support Video Calls
Just getting into a meeting is simple enough. But you’d be surprised at how much easier your life can be when you use applications built around making the meeting experience better:
- ManyCam. This lets you integrate a livestream with a video call. You can also integrate other applications like PowerPoint to create a more interactive experience. However, make sure you have a computer capable of running all these integrations, and watch out for potential lag time on the video.
- Calendly. Sometimes it’s not the meeting that vexes you—it’s the back-and-forth emails that take place when setting up that meeting. Calendly takes all the guesswork out of the process, automating your meeting booking systems.
- Fireflies.ai. Want to have an audio recording and transcription of your call, then have that automatically emailed to anyone on the call? Fireflies will take care of that; you just have to link it with your calendar and include it as an “attendee.”
Do you have any other ideas for the best tools, equipment, and apps that make your video meetings better? Tweet us @Anyvoo and let us know!