I recall my first formal online meeting. I was totally unprepared. Originally, I was to rendezvous with a certain VIP at a comfy hotel lounge downtown. But due to unexpected circumstances, our in-person meeting was cancelled and, instead, an online video meeting was to take place.
I didn’t think too much of it at first. After all, how complicated could it be? And in retrospect, I wasn’t incorrect. It really wasn’t that complicated. Sure, the overall objective of the meeting was achieved. However, some extra prep and knowledge would have made the experience a lot more straightforward, and the meeting much more pleasant and engaging.
We often find ourselves in situations where we may need to adapt and acquire knowledge in a relatively short period of time. The COVID-19 health crisis is one such situation. With the onset of the social distancing initiative, many of us resorted to remote forms of communication such as online video calling. Although commonly used by many individuals and organizations, the usage of applications such as Zoom and Google Hangouts can still be considered a novelty by many. Whether personally or professionally, many still choose to conduct meetings in person. Mental health counselling and other healthcare-related consultations are just some examples where parties may be more inclined (or perhaps, more accustomed) to meet face-to-face. Such essential services are greatly needed during times of crisis, and in certain situations the ability to effectively communicate remotely allows caregivers to reach those in need of assistance while still maintaining physical distancing.
With a little practice we can all become adept at using technology to connect with others remotely. As I learned during my very first video meeting, preparation, setup and some overall knowledge can really make a difference between an okay video meeting and an excellent one!
In this article, we ask Anthony Madani of UpMedia.video to share his thoughts on how to make video meetings more effective, productive and engaging. Anthony leads an award-winning company that specializes in high-quality video production, so he really knows what he’s talking about.
Here are some topics we’ll cover:
- Choosing the right video conferencing application
- Technology and setup
- Pre-call prep
Anthony, tell us about yourself and how you got here.
I am a Video Producer and Director at UpMedia.video. I run a video advertising agency that helps with consultants and large businesses to produce compelling video content.
My background comes from years of working in TV and Movies.
About 5 years ago I branched out and created my own agency, with the desire of bringing “hollywood style” video production to the business world.
We’ve worked with many businesses since then to produce a variety of compelling marketing videos. We’ve also been hired to teach corporations how to produce their own videos. We launched our first online training this year, where we taught consultants how to use video
What are your views on video conferencing and its use for online therapy?
Due to the Pandemic and social distancing, video conferencing is your best option to continue to move your practice forward. Your practice doesn’t have to come to a grinding halt.
Video calls for online therapy work great.
I’ve actually consulted a few therapists on video conferencing. The general concern is the technical challenges. It can be a little daunting to figure out how to make it all work. However, after practicing a few times you can easily wrap your head around it, and make it work
It’s really the same as learning to ride a bike. After a few attempts, you’re off to the races. Eventually you will realize you can still help people and make an impact on your clients. Remember, your skills haven’t changed, just your medium of communication.
How would one choose the right video conferencing application?
Most of the well-known video conferencing applications are great for online therapy sessions. One of the most important factors to consider is security. Due to the context of your sessions, confidentiality is key, so you want a video conferencing platform that supports that.
Zoom for example, allows password-protected calls, so that you can privatize your conference call.
Google Hangouts is also a great platform. It’s secure, and more importantly, it’s user friendly.
One thing I really like about Google Hangouts, is that it syncs directly with your online calendar, so it’s easy to find the link and boot up the video call when it’s time. It’s just one more thing to streamline your process.
What about tech and setup?
To make your setup work the best, you should consider a webcam. It will help boost your video quality. They are very low cost and you can order one on Amazon.
Your audio quality is important as well. Try to eliminate background noise. Close your windows. Give your family (including kids) advance notice of your session. Ask them for help in creating a quiet space for the duration of the session.
Maybe bribe your kids with ice cream afterwards.
What about lighting and background?
The main goal of your lighting and background should be to eliminate distractions. This will keep the focus on you. This is a strong principle in the TV world, and with lighting on movie sets. We want to bring all the focus to the people in dialogue. Let’s look at both in detail.
It’s important that you illuminate yourself well. Make sure you have the strongest source of light, shining on you instead of behind you. Oftentimes, there is more light behind you than in front of you, and it looks very distracting. Remember, we want to eliminate distractions.
Whether you’re using natural lighting (a window with daylight) or an artificial light source (a lamp or light stand), make sure your strongest source of light is directed toward the front of you. We call this a Key light.
Here’s an example:
Here’s an example a person using Zoom who is well illuminated:
Below is an example of what not to do with your lighting. The light is only hitting one side of his face. There is too much contrast. He kind of looks like a villain or a ‘bad guy’. You don’t want to look like you’re hiding in the shadows, so try to be more illuminated.
Make sure your eyeballs are highlighted. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and if your eyes are glowing (from the light) it will make you look more professional and charismatic. This will make your session more effective and engaging. See if you can use this lighting tip to your
Here’s a good example of eyes being well lit:
Let’s talk about improving the quality of your background.
Once again, this will help keep the focus on you, and eliminate distractions during your session. Eliminate background clutter. You don’t want a bunch of stuff lying around in the background causing distractions. That may be a big task, depending on your office, or you may have kids that need to share the space as well. No problem.
You can always consider using a virtual background. Zoom now offers a virtual background, where you can take an image of your choice and automatically “green-screen” it behind you.
I really don’t recommend using the stock photos that are supplied, such as outer-space, and gigantic blades of grass. They’re very distracting. Instead, I suggest going on google, finding a picture of a clean room (such as a bedroom or living room), and using that instead. This looks way more professional and you will never have to give another thought to your
Here’s an example:
Doing a video conference can feel awkward. Do you have any tips on how to make a session more effective and engaging?
The best thing you can do to make the session more engaging is to eliminate distractions. Make sure your face is well illuminated, and your background is not too busy.
Yes, video calls can feel awkward at first, but once you get into the session you will forget all about it. Focus on your content; your goal of helping your clients. This will take precedence over the challenges of the current situation.
How would you prepare a client for a successful video conferencing session?
One important way to help your client prepare, is to ask them to test out the video platform with a friend or family member before your call. There will be some steps they need to take to familiarize themselves with software. It’s way more impactful to use your call to actually conduct your therapy session, instead of wasting time troubleshooting. Save time by getting them to practice. And while you’re at it, you may have a practice session of
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
Twice a month, I post blogs and articles related to using video to grow your business. If you’re interested, you can always find more information here: https://upmedia.video/blog/
Physical distancing doesn’t have to be social distancing. Fortunately, technology allows us to reach others even if we are not physically beside them. We can conduct meetings and convey ideas and instructions. We can hear the voices of loved ones and see them smile. And we can seek help when we need it and provide care to those in need.