Picture this: you have an incredible training session that you’ve prepared, tested, and are ready to deploy. You have very fresh and interesting activities built in, and it will all crescendo into a beautiful lesson that you were laying the seeds of from the beginning of your session.
Then you do the session and people can’t even see you.
Wouldn’t that ruin the entire experience?
The example is rather extreme, but you’d be surprised as to how often trainers and presenters overlook lighting. Lighting is an extremely important aspect of how a viewer feels, even if they may not notice it.
The value of lighting and colour
Think about movies – Batman movies are dark and shadowy, while Iron Man movies are bright and colourful. Movies about war are predominantly grey in colour, while romantic movies have soft, muted colours. Why is that? It’s because filmmakers are artists, and they understand the power of colour and light in delivering a great experience. They understand that colour and light can evoke different emotions in people.
These are things you may not notice, but they are things you will feel.
Human beings are visual creatures. We take in thousands of pieces of information from only a few seconds of looking at something. This is why we get instinctual feelings about a person’s sincerity when we look at them, but we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
How this relates to training and facilitation
In a recorded session, lighting makes you look professional. Sloppy lighting makes you look like an amateur who doesn’t know what s/he is doing.
In a live virtual session, a poorly lit frame isn’t the end of the world. People are forgiving of visual issues if the audio is very good. However, not having the right lighting is a lost opportunity to capture and hold your audience’s attention. Having both great audio and video improves the audience’s overall experience.
If you’re a beginner, the simplest and cheapest way to improve your lighting for live sessions is to reposition yourself near a window. Really good natural light is by far the best way to improve your video quality, and it’s absolutely free.
However, if that is not an option, or if your sessions are in the evening when you do not have the advantage of natural light, you will need to use artificial lighting. The easiest way to use artificial light well is to make sure you position the light behind your camera, i.e. ensure that your tube light or bulb isn’t behind your head and in front of the camera, because that will silhouette you and hide your face.
For more advanced applications of lighting, you can start looking at studio lighting, color gels, and green screens. Studio lighting can really give you a lot of fine-tuned control over your presentation. In both live and recorded video, you can start thinking like a movie director and think about the tone and mood you want to convey.
We encourage you to think about your lighting needs. If you find that you can benefit from professional lighting equipment, we have tested a lot of different equipment at different price points which you see on our recommended equipment page: https://dextr.io/equipment/
A note about presentations
The importance of lighting is mitigated if the bulk of your session is on a presentation, but we’ve previously spoken and written about how bland presentations lose the audience’s attention anyway. Presentations often become a crutch for trainers, and they come with their own issues of reading from slides, not being spontaneous, and not engaging the audience.
In general, we try to have a slideless portion of the presentation in our own sessions, where we talk to the audience face to face (or screen to screen). Remember that a session is first and foremost a connection between trainer and audience, and having a direct conversation without a presentation is an important aspect that shouldn’t be ignored.
A strong, well-lit, face-to-face conversation will have an incredible effect on your audience, and having that moment should be the aim of the facilitator, even if they’re using slides.
If we made you think today, we’d be happy to hear from you. Reach out to us with questions and recommendations at firstname.lastname@example.org.