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How to improve your virtual meetings

With many individuals planning to spend part or all of their time working remotely for the foreseeable future, video calls are here to stay. But far too many professionals are still making common mistakes and creating barriers to communicating effectively with clients, coworkers and suppliers – as well as exhausting themselves in the process.

To help local executives and work-from-home professionals combat Zoom fatigue and look their best on video calls, OBJ and sponsor Interactive Audio Visual teamed up to explore the go-to technology you need in your home office and how to use it effectively. 

This is an edited transcript of a discussion between Interactive Audio Visual president Ian Smith and OBJ publisher Michael Curran. To hear the full interview, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify.

CURRAN: Why are Zoom calls so tiring? 

SMITH: Our brains use all of our senses when we interact with one another. When you get into a Zoom call, some of those senses aren’t available and your brain starts to expend more mental energy. Over long periods of time, this is incredibly draining and could lead to burnout. One of the things you want to do to stop this is to restrict distractions like cellphones, emails and background noise. Combined, this can eliminate some of those interruptions that can detract someone’s attention. 

CURRAN: Most of our computers have built-in cameras, speakers and microphones. Why are these not doing the job?

SMITH: Built-in tech is typically designed for generic applications and occasional use. Based on price, the quality can vary dramatically and the adjustments to optimize the quality aren’t adequate. Audio is especially critical and a big contributor to fatigue. You want to try to get a microphone as close to a person’s mouth as possible to optimize sound – whether that’s with an external mic or headset. That helps reduce external noise and can make a huge difference on your audio quality. 

CURRAN: How can employees beef up their home office to get the best results?

SMITH: A lot of the rooms people are working in at home are not intended to be used as a studio. An easy first step to creating that home studio is adding some sort of sound absorption tool to the walls – whether that’s professional-grade sound panels or a tapestry or quilt – to absorb the echo. An external light can also make a big difference. Having a light that is dimmable, adjustable and allows you to control the colour temperature is imperative to lighting a person’s face properly in order to see expressions and emotions.