It's been almost 18 months since we had to change the way we work forever, relying on lots of new tools to keep our creative businesses running. Now it's the norm; many of us are looking for fresh ways to stand out from the generic Zoom or Meet calls, which can often be poor quality and have limited options to showcase our designs.
Societies are unlocking, and creatives everywhere are returning to the studio. And while many of us continue to work from home, at least some of the time, a "that'll do" approach is no longer endearing to clients.
Don't think your rivals don't realise that, either. They'll probably have spent the last year and a half honing and improving the way they present to clients from home. And if you don't follow suit, you're going to win fewer pitches, however great a designer you are.
The good news, though, is that there are some very simple fixes. In this article, we'll share five ways to level up the quality of the pitches and presentations you give while working from home. It won't take a lot of time or money to follow this advice, and the extra income you'll get from winning more work could be significant indeed.
1. Improve your video presentations
Free apps like Zoom are great for making video calls with friends and family. But if you're trying to get across your ideas visually to clients, they can be quite limiting. For creatives, that's most striking when it comes to showing your work.
You've spent countless hours getting every pixel perfectly in place on your mockups, prototypes, storyboards and concepts. So it's super-frustrating when those visuals appear blurry, pixellated and with inaccurate colours on video conferencing platforms.
It's worse still when it comes to motion graphics, animations or video, which can be ruined by interminable lag and glitchy, jumpy playback.
It's well worth it, then, to spend a little more money on a more sophisticated video conferencing platform that's better suited to your needs. We like Crikle, which was created by creative professionals, for creative professionals.
With Crikle, instead of low-res screen sharing, your images and videos are presented to clients in the full resolution they are uploaded. That means no lag, no pixelation, no blurriness, and accurate colour.
What's more, everything is managed within the platform itself – no messing around with third-party apps like Dropbox – saving you time and fuss.
2. Use your brand to stand out from the crowd
Even better news for savvy designers: Crikle doesn't cover everything with its own branding, as other services do. Instead, you're free to customise the entire look of your video call to suit your business.
For instance, you can add your own logo, tag line, background image, brand colour, personalised links, and domain branding. In other words, you can replace crikle.com with the domain of your choice, making everything look like your own bespoke video conferencing platform. How cool is that?
3. Boost your audio and visuals
Pitching is all about expressing your ideas and concepts clearly and effectively. And well, it's not rocket science to say that poor audio is going to make that pretty difficult to achieve in practice. So why not spend a small amount of cash, and upgrade your equipment?
Buying an external USB mic will again make a huge difference to the quality of your audio, compared with just relying on your laptop or tablet's internal mic. Best in class is the Blue Yeti, which is popular amongst podcasters, although if that's too rich for your blood, a cheaper mic like the Kungber USB Microphone is still a big step up from an in-built one.
Also, invest in a pair of headphones, which will stop the sound from your speakers from feeding back into your mic, creating an annoying echo.
4. Improve your video quality
Ever strained your eyes looking at a dark, murky picture and trying to make out the person speaking? Annoying, isn't it? So don't upset your clients in this way either.
Using an external webcam instead of the in-built one on your laptop will provide a sharper and clearer picture, making you look more presentable and professional. We like the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, but even cheaper models will still give you a better picture than you're probably getting at the moment.
Team that with a ring light, which all the YouTubers use to provide a more flattering portrait of themselves. Get something like the Neewer Camera Lighting Kit, and play around with it till you get the right look.
5. Clean up your background
Our last tip might sound like an obvious one, but anecdotal evidence suggests it's one that many people need to take on board: smarten up your background.
You wouldn't turn up to an interview in an old T-shirt, and the same applies to the room you're presenting your pitch from. Yes, it's acceptable in this current era to be working from your bedroom, but no one wants to look at your clutter, inappropriate posters or torn wallpaper. So either fix those things or find a wall that's as clear, clean and unobstructed as possible and angle your laptop accordingly.
Also, think about avoiding distractions that might disrupt the flow of your presentation. For instance, pointing your camera to a door isn't advisable unless you're completely sure it won't be accidentally opened by a pet, a small child or an unthinking adult.
Bookshelves may make you look impressively intellectual but may also mean viewers spend more time looking at the titles than listening to your pitch. And try to avoid windows, too, as changing light levels can play havoc with your webcam settings, leading to distracting changes in brightness and contrast.
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Want to raise the standard of your online pitches? Crikle is a next-generation video conferencing platform founded by creatives for creatives. As such, it's tightly focused on providing freelancers, startups and small businesses a platform that's perfect for presenting work to clients.
Get ahead of the competition by signing up for your free trial today and take advantage of the exclusive offer to Creative Boom readers of 33% off your first 12 months by using the code CREATIVEBOOM33 at checkout.