Announcing: How you create a video set-up for virtual keynotes

👉 Life is all about how to show up

👉 Background: 67 feet behind him

👉 Camera: 7 feet in front of him

👉 See people on a 50-inch television, which is 6-7 feet in front of him

👉 It looks like the partner is sitting on the other side of the table; like on the crosstable having a conversation;

👉 It is all about engagement!

You can find more information about Brian on his website:

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🎧🎧 You can listen to the whole interview here:


So you mentioned something. You're also giving virtual keynotes at the moment because of covid-19, okay. And are there any changes that you recognize and that you or lessons that you learned in the last couple of months through covid-19? So presenting virtually I mean the connection, you don't have an audience in front of you. It's different. You look into a camera.

So do you have some lessons from this process from virtual events? Yeah, absolutely. So first and foremost. I mean, you commented on my studio and my nice set up that was one of the first things I did after covid hit was shifted the way I did things. And it's been through a couple of different evolution, so I'll talk about that first and then I'll talk about some of the lessons that I've kind of extracted because it's partially technology, partially like the application as well.

So when I first started doing it, all I did was the camera, and I was still working on a 27-inch iMac, and I had a different background and I was just kind of the backdrop of my room.

It wasn't an actual, like a studio set up. And so then I started to evolve from there, and I was like, you know, I need to get a backdrop. I need to make sure that I've got things set up appropriately.

You know, that's a real shelf. When you and I last talked, you asked me that I went back and pick the book up off of the shelf, right. I didn't want a virtual background.

I wanted my technology to help differentiate me because I look at life. It's like life is all about how you show up, right? The first thing is that you show up.

The second thing is, how do you show up, like how present, how active, how engaged are you?

And this was no different to me. And so I started with the camera, and then I was working with the camera. But I was sitting, you know, 2-3 feet from a 27-inch iMac, and that was fine.

But in my coaching work, I'm gonna speak to that as well, because it connects to the speaking pieces also, I read people, right. I read micro-expressions. I read facial expressions, every body language I could pick up on all those different things.

Even in the 27 iMac, it wasn't the same as in-person or even close to it, right? And so I was missing things and it wasn't as effective.

And so one of the evolutions of my studio was a change in the lens on my nice camera. And so I ended up getting a lens that it's called the nifty 50. So, anybody who's watching this right, we'll know what this 50-millimeter lens with canon.

But what it essentially does. My background is 67 feet behind me. My camera is 7 feet in front of me, and you are on a 50-inch television. That's 6 to 7 feet in front of me.

That was one of the biggest lessons I learned both for coaching and for speaking is two things. One, you look like you're sitting across the table from me right now, you're life-size.

You're not on a small screen, your life-size, and I feel like I'm across the table having a conversation with you. So I feel like the ability to transfer energy and have a conversation just by changing the technology set up was material that translates also to speaking, though, because that's one of the things that I learned is and we'll break this down in just a second, but virtual keynotes air delivered in a multitude of different ways, right? There literally is a live stream where you are speaking essentially on a zoom platform or some other platform, but you're kind of speaking to a screen that you're just looking at yourself.

Then there are virtual keynotes where you might be in a zoom setting like that, but you get to actually see the participant grid so you can see people really time on the screen and you get to get that feedback and interaction and energy exchange not the same as in person, but as close as you would get otherwise.

And then there are pre-recorded virtual keynotes. Okay, pre-recorded is my least favorite because there's no feedback. There's none, right. There are no live questions. There's no anything. You pre-record you do it now. I've done a bunch of them, but that's not there my least favorite.

No interaction? No, there's no interaction. The next one is probably my next least favorite, but it's probably my second favorite because there are only three options. Really right now is the one where you're talking, but you don't see the audience.

Why I like that one. At least better than the pre-recorded is. There could still be chat polls. There could still be stuff that comes in. There could still be real-life interaction to answer questions afterward.

So there's some level of engagement. Even if I can't see the people that I know that there's some feedback, the last one is my favorite, and that's one of the lessons that I learned with.

This is I have the ability because you're on a 50-inch screen. If I get a grid, even if there are 50 or 100 people in there, I don't need to see everyone in the audience I can get as many people on the screen as possible.

But what's beautiful about that is I have a lot of latitudes because I'm so far away from my camera where I can look in different parts of the screen and you can barely detect that. I'm moving my eyes.

It looks like I'm looking at you the whole time it looks like I'm engaged with you the whole time. If I was sitting at my 27-inch iMac 3 feet from the screen, every eye movement you pick up on and so it allows me to come across as more engaged to each individual person on those things. So that was one of the lessons I learned because to me that's as close as to get to be on stage where you can have that impact and so technology. Though I invested in it.

I spent the money. I literally have a rolling studio cart I invested in setting up the backdrop. I bought all the stuff that's back there. I've got five lights set up on again. I don't see any that to draw any attention to it other than I made the investment and it paid for itself. In one talk, I booked one talk early on, and the biggest reason I got it was down to a finalist between the two of us. I landed the talk because my technology was better.

Our messages were great, but they said our teams are going to see you absorb you and connect with you better because you're crisp, you're clear. You have good lighting. You have good sound.

And we're gonna be able to interact with you better on our end. And so it paid for itself in one talk.

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