Location, location, location…
It is important to find the right location when setting up for your online meeting. Consideration should be given to the lighting and noise in that location. Natural light from a window can cause various issues depending on the sun's direction, time of day and cloudy weather. Avoid having natural light behind you as the camera will adjust the exposure to the bright natural light and this will leave your face very dark.

The location should also be away from external noises both internally and externally. Sit in the prospective position with your eyes closed and listen for humming fridge compressors, washing machine, music, kids, trades people using power tools, etc.


Framing & Background
When lining up the shot try to avoid being too far away or not centred in you shot. It is a common mistake to have the face in the middle of the screen with a large gap above the head. See how they film newsreaders when they come in for a close-up shot.  The height of the laptops camera should be around the height of your nose for the best angle and will avoid recording at an upward angle with the ceiling in the background.

The background should have some interest (details) and colour. A bookshelf or plant is always a good option, but avoid reflective surfaces such as mirrors or pictures. Glass picture frames off to the side should be fine, just avoid any unwanted reflection of bright natural light etc. It is also beneficial to have some distance between you and the wall behind you (depth of field), as it allows more detail in the background shot.


Lighting

Facing a window can give you nice lighting but can change if it’s a cloudy day or as the sun sets. Extra lights can improve the appearance depending on their position. Bedside lamps without lamp shades can be useful with the correct bulbs and position. I find cool white rather than warm white works best and a 40-60w bulb. The lamps can be set on the table either side of your laptop to add light. IF too bright, change to lower wattage or simply move further away from you.


Audio
Once you have found your location, close your eyes for a minute and listen for background noise. The most common noise we have to deal with is from air conditioners, but if filming at home then depending on the location, it could be noise from the fridge compressor humming, the tumble dryer or the washing machine on spin cycle.

Most people use the laptops internal microphone which is acceptable as long as you are not sitting too far away. You can also use an additional microphone, such as a lapel (lavalier) mic which will plug into your laptop. Make sure you have the correct 3.5mm jack with 3 bands on it. If it has 4 bands it will not work in many laptop’s as they are designed for smartphones. Lapel microphones can be tucked inside your clothing to hide the long cable, just remember you are still attached to the laptop when you stand up.


Talent
Give some consideration to what you will be wearing and make sure you are comfortable. Don’t wear a heavy jacket on a hot day, especially if you need to turn off a noisy air conditioner as you will get hot and flushed. Avoid stripes, spots and dark colours if the lighting is not great. Check what you are wearing in the camera preview before deciding. If using a lapel microphone, make sure you have it somewhere on the clothing where it can be attached in the middle of your chest, 8-10 inches from your mouth.