Last March, COVID-19 turned the speaking world upside down when everything became virtual. While I was already doing some video presentations, I certainly wasn't doing every single one that way! Recently, I upped my game and set my office up for virtual speaking.
We live in an 1100 square foot house with two bedrooms, one of which was my office. After a few months of being home-bound, it was evident that even when a vaccine is discovered, I won't be traveling as much as I used to. Conferences, events, and meetings will continue to sometimes be virtual or a hybrid event. I also knew that I couldn't continue my current set-up for another year.
We invested the money and remodeled our house to flip our bedroom and my office. I moved from a smaller room with poor natural light to a room with three windows and more space. I can't believe it took that long to realize that we only slept in our bedroom, yet I was in my office 8+ hours a day!
We replaced the flooring and covered one wall with shiplap from Home Depot. It is beautiful and provides a nice, neutral background. My background before was purple photo paper in my logo color, but it severely limited what I could wear. I had to have it behind me because the alternative was people seeing my closet and door. Not an ideal scene, and as a speaker, I can't use a virtual background because it looks unprofessional, and when I would move, I would lose an arm or get blurry.
Furniture for virtual speaking
I added a ladder shelf with only things that I love from clients or friends and a few marketing pieces. I lost wall space due to windows, so I bought a reversible mobile whiteboard that I can use when speaking and for my own use. My new standing desk gave me space for dual monitors, and now I'm completely spoiled. I already had a standing desk, but it was narrow and didn't allow me to have all the technology. I don't think speakers should be sitting, even when virtual. Would you sit onstage? Stand up!
Mobile Whiteboard – I keep all of my quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily priorities on one side of the whiteboard and use the other side for presentations. This hosts the Smart TV, and I can easily roll it out of the way when I'm not speaking.
Standing desk – I like this one because it's adjustable and gives me plenty of space for all of my tech and to write.
Technology for virtual speaking
I had no idea what to buy, so I relied on Evan Carroll from Attended Events to purchase the goods and install them. He came to my house twice for set-up and training and did a quick emergency video session before my first virtual keynote. He was worth every single penny not to research all of it myself and just tell me what I need to know, complete with an Amazon shopping list. It all took some time to get used to, but I love my new set-up!
- HDMI Splitter
- MacBook Air – I run my slides off of my old Air. I see presentation view on the Air, and my slides are on the Smart TV.
- MacBook Pro – I run the meeting and all the tech off of the Pro.
- Smart LED Roku TV
- Dracast Softbox for LED 500
- Dracast DRP-LED500-BV LED500 Bi-color Adjustable with V-Mount Battery Plat
- Sceptre Ultra Thin LED Monitor – I have two of these external monitors. In total, I have five screens, and I use them all.
- Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
- Sigma 402963 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens for Micro Four Thirds
- Blue Yeti microphone
- Logitech Brio webcam – this is a back-up webcam.
- ATEM Mini Pro switcher allows me to go back and forth between the full slide, full me, and me in the corner of the screen.
Accessories for virtual speaking
Before, I didn't have anything natural in the office. Now I have plants, and I can't believe what a difference it makes! With my new office, I vowed to only have things that were truly special or functional. I love the lack of clutter.
Gardenix Self-Watering Pots – I kill plants, so these self-watering pots were a real find.
Work Well. Play More! Door hanger – I use this when I can't be interrupted by my husband. When the sign is on the door, I'm Working Well so I can Play More!
I love my new office and set-up to speak virtually. I still prefer speaking live, but I am fortunate to make the investment to create an environment that allows me to speak more naturally and for my audience not to see a toy soldier or talking head on a screen.
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