It’s Not Webcasting, It’s SimuLyve® SimuLyve.com
Struggling with how to make your virtual meetings better? The solution is right in front of you – your TV. That’s the model we use at SimuLyve International to produce great, interactive, and engaging virtual meetings for our clients. We model after television because we come from the television industry. Watch CNN, BBC, educational channels and TV in general, and you’ll begin to learn the tricks of the trade. If you watch carefully, with a sharp eye and a creative mind, you’ll realize that a television news broadcast isn’t really that different than a virtual meeting, other than the content. And of course with SimuLyve® virtual, it’s even better than television, because it’s 2-way interactive virtual communication. Click below to see an example of a SimuLyve® Virtual Meeting produced as professionally as television.
News relates news, virtual investigator meetings for pharmaceuticals, for example, relate a protocol, but the way the broadcast is created and streamed can (or should be) very similar. Death by PowerPoint is the model for most webcasts, and it destroys the effectiveness of virtual meetings. Instead, model your meetings after the television industry, and that will make your meetings as engaging as the nightly news. We’ve been in the virtual broadcasting, film, video production, and television business for 44 years, and want to share our secrets with you. If you need our help to produce your next virtual meeting, contact us at Info@SimuLyve.com
Our Secrets Unveiled: Top 10 Tips from The TV Pros:
1. Content is King
All of the other tips below are about how to technically make your virtual meetings flawless. But if your content is poor, or worse – awful, everything else below is meaningless. Content is King, as they say in the television business. Why is a hit show a hit? Their content is liked. Will your virtual meeting be engaging if your content isn’t? Of course not.
Put away thoughts that simply, for example, by adding polling, that’ll be the magic fix to make your virtual meetings more engaging, (yes polling can work a bit, but it’s no magic fix). More importantly, work on your actual presentation and pre-record your presentation, then stream it live with Q&A afterwards, to make your next virtual meeting great and interactive. That’s SimuLyve®. Great meeting content creates great engagement. It’s really that simple.
What’s the best way to create great virtual content? Have it professionally recorded by a virtual meeting planning company, or in a pinch, record it yourself with a webcam. Record it numerous times, then edit it, using the best of the best takes to remove mistakes, “uh’s” and “ums,” as well as to make it more succinct.
In the professional setting of broadcasting (or webcasting, which are synonymous terms), we do this all the time, we create beautiful pre-recorded presentations, but then importantly, add interactivity by streaming the pre-recorded video to a live virtual audience followed by live Q&A, that’s SimuLyve.
It’s the best of both worlds, pre-recorded so that it can be edited to be engaging and accurate, but interactive with live Q&A.. And if your background image is identical during the recording and the Q&A session, your audience won’t even know that the didactic part of your recording was recorded. They’ll just perceive you as an excellent presenter. Editing to make great content is everything in the broadcast business. This is exactly how TV news is produced. It’s a hybrid between well produced engaging pre-recorded content and live content. We know, because we come from the TV industry. Use TV as your model and your meetings will improve dramatically.
To learn more watch, “Virtual Meetings During COVID-19 & Beyond” a keynote address at the Summit for Clinical Operations Executives (SCOPE) that focuses on the concept that the model for virtual meetings is broadcast television.
2. Respect the Importance of Your Background
Analyze your background. Is the camera oddly pointing up and your background is a ceiling fan? Are you in the corner of your bedroom with bi-fold closet doors behind you? If your background – what we call in the TV industry, a “practical background” – doesn’t look professional, change it. Position yourself, for example, in front of a bookshelf that’s receding in the background on an angle. Or put yourself in a room where there’s depth. A sense of depth always looks better. Keep working on your background until it looks professional. To get more ideas, watch the news and view backgrounds of contributors that are streamed into news shows. Or, use a virtual background.
3. Use a Green Screen
Get the type of green screen that pulls up from the bottom like a shade. Then, choose a virtual background that’s photorealistic so you look professional. Light the green screen evenly – homogeneously as we say. If it’s not lit properly, it won’t “key” properly, meaning you won’t be inserted Into the virtual scene correctly and it’ll look fake and distracting. In the virtual software, use the tool to select your specific green color to improve the key.
4. Light Yourself Properly. The number of people that we see lit improperly on virtual meetings that we haven’t produce is staggering. It’s a very simple fact: all photography and video need light to produce an image. If you think that’s unimportant, you’re mistaken. Credibility is everything. If your light is awful, no one will take your message, or you, seriously. Most people suffer from light that’s pointed in the wrong direction, either from behind or commonly overhead. Neither can work as the only light source. You need to be lit from the front and / or from both sides, on an angle. A simple ring light will light you properly from the front, though if you really want to improve your lighting, you should purchase professional LED lights that are used in the video industry. Average ones are not too expensive. Very good ones are.
Lighting from behind (such as from a window) creates what we jokingly call the “witness protection look.” You become a silhouette. A camera is not as sophisticated as one’s eye. In real life, if you stand in front of a window, people can still see you properly, unless there’s massive sun coming in. But with a camera, a webcam or similar, light from behind “closes down” the iris of the camera and you become a silhouette – impossible to be seen.
5. Work on Perfect Audio Or It Will Destroy Your Meeting. Bad video can be somewhat “fixed in the mix” in editing (after a live meeting) to some degree, to save an awful recording or webcast. But bad audio is virtually impossible to make better. If it’s distorted, it’s impossible to “un-distort” it. If it’s too low, it can be enhanced, but that introduces additional noise. Bottom line – work on your audio.
One simple way to do that: use VOIP (voice over IP), meaning your computer microphone and speakers (as opposed to a phone) and buy an Apple laptop. Apple computer’s audio is far better than anything else on the market (as are their webcams). You might be a “PC person,” but for virtual meetings, you’ll be better off dedicating an Apple Laptop or iMac to that task (not an iPad or iPhone).
Proper headsets can be a solution as well, but many are very poor quality. You may have to test a dozen before you find one great one (same holds true for external webcams). Test by calling up a friend (that has “good ears”) and ask them how you sound.
The room you are in makes a difference especially if you’ve decided to us a phone rather than VOIP. Is it incredibly reverberant (echoey)? Are you on a speaker phone with a group of people in a conference room? That almost always creates inaudibility – literally the other side can hear you, but they can’t understand you.
Is there a lot of background noise? If so, go to a different room with a door. Are there noises in your office or home that are heard during the meeting through the closed door? Move to a different location or stop the person (or dog) from making the noise.
6. Don’t Settle for a Mediocre Internet Connection. First rule: never use Wifi unless you have to. A Wifi connection to the internet is a radio wave connection. Like in a cell phone, radio waves are unreliable. Your “lip sync” (meaning how closely your video – your lips – match our audio, will be worse on Wifi, sometimes awful). Wifi can create dropouts and at times will completely disappear, breaking your Internet connection to the meeting.
Instead, use an Ethernet cable. Find your modem, if it’s not near your desk, and run a cable from that modem to your computer. “Flat” ethernet cables 100 foot long, are easy and inexpensive to buy. Or move your modem closer to your computer. Or hire a pro to wire your home with Ethernet ports.
Check your Internet connection on Speedtest.net. Check both “up” and “down” speed. If you don’t already know this, connections to the Internet are not the same “up” and “down.” Down is usually much faster, as people “download” website data more than upload. Therefore, up is often dolled out by Internet Service Provides (ISPs) to be very slow. Your webcam, your slides, you screen shares and chat are all going “up” during a virtual webcast. If you’re up is slow, you’ll look bad (or non-existent).
What are decent speeds? You could get away with 1Mbps up and down, in a real pinch – an emergency. And 10 up and down can suffice. What should your speed be? Ideally it should be >=30Mbps up and down should be >= 100Mbps. The ultimate? Get a fiber connection and you can have 1,000 Mbps up and down – gig speed, as they call it, because 1,000Mbps = 1Gbps. And fiber is nearly 100% reliable, which is another issue with Cable (TV provider) and DSL (phone company provider) Internet connections.
7. Turn Off Your VPN. VPNs harm most all virtual meetings. Unless it’s absolutely necessary to keep your VPN on, turn it off prior to beginning a virtual meeting. Zoom is one of the most forgiving platforms when it comes to VPNs being on, but it’s still better to turn it off.
8. Quit All Other Applications. Compute cycles are not infinite on a computer. Prior to beginning your virtual meeting, quit all other applications other than the one’s you absolutely need to have on during your virtual meeting.
9. Re-Start Your Computer Prior to Your Virtual Meeting. A restart for a computer is a fresh start. It clears all cache and provides the greatest amount of compute cycles. This allows your virtual meeting to have a better chance of being flawless technically, from the standpoint of the performance of your computer.
10. Hire Pros If Your Virtual Meeting Is Anything More than Casual. Just like an in-person meeting, maybe even more so, as the virtual meeting gets more important, or bigger, you need to call in professionals to manage your meeting. Even a 15 person pharmaceutical ad board meeting should be produced by a professional company, as it’s too important not to be. We’ve often noticed that the smaller a meeting, the more important. It’s not about size, it’s about who’s attending your meeting, what’s at stake, and how important it is. And of course, as the meeting gets larger, professional management is a must. Don’t call any company for help. Call a company that’s been producing virtual for decades, longer than any company in the industry, a company that understands virtual and can produce a virtual meeting that’s highly interactive, engaging, professional and flawless. Call on SimuLyve International, Inc.
It’s Not Webcasting, It’s SimuLyve®