Participants set up their virtual workspace and tech configurations based on facilitator recommendations or online guides. Next, they take photos of their workspaces and tech. Finally, they share their set up and live video in the virtual session, which could also be spun into a competition.
Motivate participants to upgrade their workstations so they look, sound, and feel better during online sessions.
1. Before a live session, announce the activity (and competition) including tech tips and set up options. Keep in mind the budget and atmosphere restrictions of your participants. For example, people in an office may not be able to rearrange their space as much as people in their home, and while some new equipment is relatively cheap for regular virtual attendees (like a 50 USD webcam), that may be more than someone might spend for just one short session. Give recommendations for all equipment and budgets. See below for quick tips and recommendations.
2. During a live session, allow participants to show off their workstations using photos and live video. Before and after shots are recommended.
3. Give feedback, compliments, and competition results as needed.
If participants will present or facilitate during virtual sessions, add other tech and setup considerations to take them from “attendee” to “facilitator.” For example, adding a 2nd camera to display documents or physical tools.
Tech and set up tips
a) Position webcams at eye level. This could be positioning laptops on a stack of books.
b) Webcams are better than built-in laptop cameras, and smartphone cameras can be turned into webcams with simple apps. Read more here.
c) Headsets and microphones are better than using default computer speakers and mics (which can cause echo effects. Most smartphones come with headsets that work nicely.
d) 2nd monitors cost money, but many people have a TV with HDMI, VGA, or wireless display options.
e) Lamps are usually movable, so experiment with lighting.
f) Different rooms create different moods. For fun or practical reasons (like a standing desk workaround), why not set up in the kitchen for a meeting?
g) Objects around the participant that aren’t seen online might add to the participant’s overall comfort in a meeting. Show off nearby objects like coffee pot, an ottoman under the desk, stress ball, or a view out the window.
h) Is there a light behind the participant that can’t be turned off? How might they block the direct light? What about a coat rack or hanging a favorite t-shirt from the ceiling?
i) Virtual backgrounds aren’t a physical setup, but they do reflect what we see behind the user. For participants in less-than-flexible surroundings, virtual backgrounds give many options.