We had just finished the first of our free, CPE-eligible webinars for accounting firms and, based on the evaluation (4.9 out of 5 stars), participants seemed to really enjoy it. In fact, one of the attendees, a partner at one of the largest accounting firms in the world, reached out directly to compliment us on the webinar. Specifically, she mentioned that she was very impressed with Rachel Klein whom she had not seen facilitate before. Although there was plenty of praise for Rachel’s knowledge of the subject matter and facilitation style, she did note:
Where’s Rachel broadcasting from? Is she currently incarcerated?
In previous posts, we’ve given you 5 strategies to take your webinar from good to great, as well as 5 reasons why our webinars are hotter than Hansel! In this post, we’ll give you 5 practical tips to increase the quality of your webinars and, if you follow them, your participants won’t think your broadcasting from Folsom Prison!
Note: We’ve provided links below where you can purchase the items that we actually use to improve our webinars. However, we are NOT getting compensated by these companies.
Tip 1: Background and camera position
Although the painted brick wall that Rachel used wasn’t awful, I do think having the entire room in the background gives it some depth. Plus, it’s more interesting than just a blank wall and it’s not the dreaded, unorganized bookshelf, which has become so commonplace and cliché. Another option is to take a high quality picture of your office (or anything) and invest in a green screen like this one ($160). That’s what I was using in my video.
Want some inspiration for your backgrounds (as well as a little chuckle)? Check out Room Rater on Twitter!
However, probably the biggest change Rachel made was moving her computer (well, actually her camera) up so it was eye level. If you’re using the built-in webcam of the computer, just sit your computer on top of a pile of books. That should do the trick. Rachel also moved herself closer to the webcam, allowing her to fill more of the frame.
Tip 2: Lighting is key
Have you ever taken pictures at the beach and you can’t see anyone’s face? It’s because the light source is BEHIND the subject, instead of having the light source FACING them. The same principle applies when facilitating a webinar. Have a light source that is facing you. Rachel used the Lume Cube Broadcasting Kit, which includes a portable tripod that she has set up just behind her computer. It also comes with a suction cup, that allows you to stick it to the back of your computer.
Even if you don’t invest in lighting, here’s a change that is completely free: If you have a window, you should be facing it. Whatever you do, do not put the window behind you or you’ll look like a shadow in the witness protection program!
Tip 3: Invest in a microphone
Probably the single most important investment you can make to improve the quality of your webinars (or voice recordings for eLearning) is to invest in a good microphone. For years we’ve relied on Blue’s Yeti USB Microphone. It makes your voice crisp and clear. It has a few different settings, so be sure you read the directions and/or watch various YouTube videos on the topic.
WARNING: It picks up EVERYTHING, including noises made by dogs, kids, and even landscape personnel (as I discovered while doing a webinar last fall).
In the picture above (which was taken in our office), you’ll note a pop filter and portable relaxion filter. We use this when recording audio for our eLearning or microlearning courses. However, Rachel did not use these items for the webinar. Interested in improving the quality of your recordings? Check out this post for our tips regarding recording and editing audio.
Tip 4: Use headphones
I am reluctant to recommend using headphones, but sometimes they are absolutely necessary. Personally, I don’t like to look like I’m in Mission Control at NASA or the DJ at an all-night rave when facilitating on camera. And, luckily, the combination of the Yeti microphone and my MacBook Pro doesn't produce that awful reverb that some computers do. However, if your computer does have reverb, delays, or any other issues with respect to hearing the sound from others on the webinar, you MUST wear headphones. This is not an option as it will unnerve your fellow presenters to hear their voice on a delay (and it will absolutely wreck your production).
Literally, you can use any type of headphones, either wired or wireless using Bluetooth. You can even use Apple AirPods, which are my “go to.” Rachel is using JBL’s Tune 600BTNC headphones, which have a noise-cancelling feature and are very reasonably priced.
Tip 5: External webcam (is it needed?)
This is an interesting one. The video of me was taken with the built-in camera on my MacBook Pro. Honestly, I think switching to an external webcam wouldn’t improve the quality all that much, if at all. That said, it made a world of difference for Rachel, who uses a PC. She purchased a Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, which resulted in her capturing crisp, clear, and HD-quality video.
Don’t be a cheapskate here. If your computer’s built-in camera is lousy, spend the extra money! Also, if you’re using your built-in camera and you’re a computer screen “toucher” like I am (even though I don’t own a touchscreen) or have small children with grubby little hands, invest in a microfiber cloth to clean your screen, especially around your camera.
Total cost and final thoughts
The total cost of Rachel’s equipment mentioned in this post was $370. If you add the green screen that I was using, you’re up to $530. Certainly not cheap, but well worth the investment if you do webinars or video conferencing on a regular basis.
Don’t be stuck in Folsom Prison with time that’s dragging on! Use these five tips to improve the quality of your next webinar.
About GAAP Dynamics
We’re a DIFFERENT type of accounting training firm. We don’t think of training as a “tick the box” exercise, but rather an opportunity to empower your people to help them make the right decisions at the right time. Whether it’s U.S. GAAP training, IFRS training, or audit training, we’ve helped thousands of professionals since 2001. Our clients include some of the largest accounting firms and companies in the world. As lifelong learners, we believe training is important. As CPAs, we believe great training is vital to doing your job well and maintaining the public trust. We want to help you understand complex accounting matters and we believe you deserve the best training in the world, regardless of whether you work for a large, multinational company or a small, regional accounting firm. We passionately create high-quality training that we would want to take. This means it is accurate, relevant, engaging, visually appealing, and fun. That’s our brand promise. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you? Let’s talk!
This post is published to spread the love of GAAP and provided for informational purposes only. Although we are CPAs and have made every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the post as of the date it was published, we are not responsible for your ultimate compliance with accounting or auditing standards and you agree not to hold us responsible for such. In addition, we take no responsibility for updating old posts, but may do so from time to time.