Video conference like a pro

With the current society requirements for social distancing, video conferencing is becoming the new normal, and will probably continue into the foreseeable future.

Video conferencing is much more enjoyable for you and others if some preparation is provided. As you become more used to video conferencing and it becomes more of a necessity, you can gradually update parts of your system to improve your experience. 

Location, location, location. 

Find a space in the home that is free of visual distractions. Although popular software has virtual background options, they can look artificial and be themselves distracting. Ideally, find a place that doesn’t have a lot of hard surfaces. Sound bounces off hard surfaces creating an echo that can make your voice hard for others to hear. Sit upright at a desk or table to ensure a consistent setup, and good posture. 

Choose your device wisely

Use a computer with a built in camera or a seperate webcam mounted to the display if possible. A laptop computer may benefit from using a laptop riser to improve the height of the camera.

As fantastic as modern phone cameras are, the screen format is often not ideal, especially when participating in group meetings. The viewpoint from a handheld phone will not be ideal for viewers. If you do use a mobile device, setup and composition is very important.

Light is up

Lighting is important for any video. Illuminate your face with a forward facing light, and use another light source behind you to seperate yourself from the background. The front light can be a window during the day, combined with a lamp if required. A well positioned front light is definitely required at night. The front light should be located behind your camera to avoid washing out the video, and effectively illuminating your face.

Mic up 

Built in computer microphones are typically very average. Try using an external USB microphone mounted on a stand, or desk-mounted boom arm. If using a mobile device, use a headset that integrates earphones and a microphone. 

Listen up

Use headphones to monitor your voice, and to hear others. You can easily make necessary adjustments when you can hear your own voice. Closed-back headphones, or noise cancelling headphones limit background noise that can be distracting. 


Familiarise yourself with the application that your meeting uses. You may need to download an app and register as a user. Each app is a little different to set up, and will allow you to test video and audio settings. Practice using the app and understand how to mute the microphone, and video when required.

Dress up

Be sure to look the part, as you would in person for a meeting, ensuring that you are appropriately groomed and dressed.

Compose yourself

Ensure your computer camera is located at head height, with your front light locates behind the camera. Your video image should show your upper body and head. Think about how you see a television newsreader on screen.

If you must use a mobile device, mount it in a compatible bracket, on a tripod or similar, to be a head height. Avoid resting your device up against something or holding it in your hand – this will produce an unflattering image of a view up your nostrils. 

Lights, camera, action

When the time comes to connect into your meeting, be prepared to check in a little early. A meeting host should allow to to join the meeting a few minutes early. Having already tested your composition, video and audio prior to the meeting, ensure your microphone is muted as you connect in.

My video conference set-up


A good video meeting setup will provide the foundation of a good experience, and give you confidence to interact with others. Once you get into your meeting, be yourself, as you would in a normal meeting. Take note of who does it well, and who may need improvement, for your own improvement. With practice, you will improve your video meeting technique to be a video conference pro.

I am a Toastmaster

I am a Toastmaster to become a better public speaker, communicator, and leader. I have always admired great speakers, extraordinary presenters, and excellent communicators.

As a speaker, presenter and trainer, I communicate daily. I have my own style and methods, that can always be better. Toastmasters provides me the opportunity to become a better public speaker, communicator and leader.

I joined Toastmasters in March 2017, having been introduced to the organisation some twenty years earlier, but didn’t continue at the time. I have since joined Ringwood Toastmasters, my local club. Members represent a wide range of demographics that I may not normally have the opportunity to network with.

Within six months of joining Ringwood Toastmasters, I was nominated and elected to be Vice-President of Public Relations, as part of an executive committee that would steer the club through 2017-2018. With this experience, I was recently nominated and elected as President of the Ringwood Toastmasters club for 2018-2019.

The benefits of being a Toastmaster will help develop all types of communication, regardless of whether you have a desire for Public speaking. There are many types of speeches that often take me out of my comfort zone – impromptu, humorous, storytelling, interviewing etc. that I continue to develop and master.

If only I had continued with Toastmasters when I was first introduced, my personal and professional life may have been very different, with improved communication and leadership. With the small investment of time and money to be a member, you will never wonder what could have been, by giving yourself the best opportunity to be a great communicator.

Contact and visit your local Toastmasters club, and thank me later.