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Video podcasting: Maintaining eye contact with a simple camera setup with Dan Keldsen

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Episode Summary

If you’re a leader within your organization, chances are you participate in webinars, virtual events, and video podcasts. And you know how important it is to look professional while on camera. But if you’re not familiar with video and audio equipment, it can be difficult to get a professional setup. And it can be even harder to create an environment where you can maintain eye contact with your audience.

In this episode, Tristan Pelligrino has a chance to talk with the Co-Founder of Plexicam Dan Keldsen. Dan and Tristan explore how B2B content creators can develop a comfortable remote podcast recording environment while maintaining eye contact with their audience. And we also learn a bit more about Dan’s story and why he created Plexicam to solve this problem.

Guest Profile

Name: Dan Keldsen

What he does: Dan is the co-founder of Plexicam

Company: Plexicam

Noteworthy: Dan was also the co-founder of Veventaas, a company offering virtual events as a service. He is also a public speaker, a consultant, a podcast host, and the co-author of The Gen Z Effect.

Key Insights

  • Making eye contact and engaging with people on video calls was challenging. In addition, people were not equipped for video conferences when the pandemic hit. Zoom and similar tools were a novelty for most employees across various industries, and while these have grown and changed over time, we still deal with low-quality webcams. If we were to put all these obstacles on paper, it’s clear why online meetings were among the least enjoyable remote work activities during the lockdown. What we all found during COVID was that being on camera is something you need to be comfortable with. And if you’re going to bother being on camera, if you want to be good at running meetings with your other peers or if you’re the CEO, you need to know how to work that room and present confidently. And you probably do not want to avoid looking at people while talking to them in an in-person setting. It’s not enough to be on camera; you should maximize it so that you look like the professional you want to be seen as.
  • There’s a difference between working on software/service and creating a physical product. And as someone who has been on the software side for almost his entire career, Dan was suspicious when his business partner Tom came to him with the idea of developing Plexicam together. “We’ve done a lot of things together in past years. It’s usually professional services such as consulting or keynote speeches, workshops, market research, and things like that. I ran some software teams for a while but not physical products. And I knew that I was not afraid of learning things. But it was daunting how much I knew we were going to have to learn because what do we know about supply chains other than talking about them abstractly? It’s very different when you’re dependent on a supply chain that actually works.”
  • Plexicam meets the needs of every user. It is a product that by its purpose fits the B2C space, but lots of B2B companies also use it. So their customer base is heterogeneous. “We have a lot of friends there at the National Speakers Association. They picked up on it early on and started talking about it to their clients and friends and the masterminds that exist for professional speakers. Then it spread out in unpredictable ways to other industries. It turns out that lawyers and legal professionals came on board pretty early on. It’s spun out from there into a lot of different situations that we had no idea it would find a home in.”

Episode Highlights

Aside from making eye contact, you want to be able to engage your audience and get their feedback

You wanna put your camera in front of your screen so you can see what’s on the screen. That’s how you make eye contact. You can learn to look into a lens, but just because you’re looking into a lens doesn’t mean you’re seeing your notes and the people you’re presenting to.

There’s a difference between looking into the lens — which is how you get eye contact with your audience — and putting a lens in a position where you can take advantage of being able to get some feedback from whoever you’re speaking with or presenting to.

You don’t get engagement from an audience if you don’t engage them. And how do you know if you’re engaging them unless you can see what the reaction is? You could hope that it’s going well, and that may work in a lot of cases, but if you want to get real feedback, you need to be able to see and hear it.

The story behind Plexicam

My business partner for both companies — Tom Koulopoulos — we’ve known each other since 1994. We haven’t worked together the entire time, but for the first 13 years we worked together. Tom is a tinkerer. I’m more of a software, soft skills kind of guy. He’s very handy.

He’s a fantastic keynote speaker in person and on camera. Tom picked up what we now sell as Plexicam off his shelf as a project. He had started it ten years ago or so and then it was left alone for years because he was mostly presenting in person. And then for no reason, he picked up the idea again in the first week of December 2019 — before anybody knew anything about COVID and certainly before we went into lockdown.

We weren’t working together at that point. But he called me in March 2020 and said, “Hey, what are you doing during the COVID lockdown?” I was like, “I have a feeling you’re gonna propose something here.”

Most people were not even set up to know how to use their webcams on their laptops. So we used Veventaas virtual events as a service to beta-test Plexicam. We would send Plexicam models and we played around with different ones. We didn’t send lights and all that stuff because it would’ve been too complicated.

That was a great beta test and then we were like, “Oh, this is a real company potentially so we should turn this into something that we can sell.” And then that took off and Veventaas we folded down.

When designing or looking to improve a product or service, seek feedback from the people who’ve used it

They don’t always know how to give you useful feedback. You might have to interpret it a bit by asking people, “What was the Seinfeld thing? Why don’t you tell me what movie you wanted to see?” It’s that kind of thing.

I look at what we can improve. So I tend to lead with a more negative-leaning question, which is not necessarily the way to go. “What do you love about it? What do you not love about it? And if you were going to tell people what it does for you, how would you describe it?” That’s how I typically want feedback from people.

And we do have some customers who are engineers and give detailed feedback. “You should try this material and you should consider using X, Y, Z.” So to me, all feedback is useful.

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