Presenting over Zoom or Teams is here to stay. If you’ve been using your laptop webcam in presentations, you should look at getting an external webcam. An external webcam gives you much more flexibility in where it is placed and is often much better quality than the built-in camera in your laptop.
If you look at the instructions for most webcams you would think that the only place you can put it is on top of the monitor or laptop screen. Not true. It can be placed anywhere. Including between your laptop screen and a monitor. Like this.
Why would you want to do this? As my recent article explains, by placing the webcam between the screens it is easier to focus on speaking to the camera while quickly glancing to the side to see either notes or your slides. In the photo above and in the article you can see this setup used with PowerPoint’s Presenter View. This can allow you to see the speaker notes, Zoom videos, and chat while the attendees see your slides.
I recommend getting a good quality external webcam like the Logitech C920 but I know it is out of stock everywhere. Look at other brands and models to see if you can find one that has full HD picture (1920 x 1080) and is highly rated.
If you can’t find an external webcam, you may be able to use your phone or iPad. In addition to my Logitech C920, I also use an app called DroidCam. This app runs one part on your laptop and another part on your phone or iPad. It allows your phone or iPad camera to be used as a webcam (more details at https://www.dev47apps.com/). It is quite easy to find a compact tripod with a phone or iPad holder and you can set it up similar to this photo.
If you have a newer DSLR camera, many of the manufacturers now offer software that you can run on your computer to turn the camera into a webcam. You connect the camera via USB and the software takes the signal and makes it available to Zoom or Teams as a webcam feed. Check with your camera maker to see what may be available.
Both of these solutions require you to run software on your computer. If your IT department locks down your laptop and does not allow external software to be installed, those solutions will not work for you. Another option is to turn an inexpensive Wyze security camera into a webcam. Earlier this year Wyze released a special version of the camera firmware that turns the device into a webcam. Check out their article to see the requirements and instructions.
When you have the camera between two screens this video will show you how to set up Presenter View.
Don’t accept the default position for an external webcam. Choose a setup that gives you the ability to deliver presentations more effectively.
Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 3.5 million times and liked over 14,000 times on YouTube.