We recently talked to photographer, filmmaker, OfferingTree user and experienced online yoga teacher Kristi Adams to find out how she helps teachers and studios to set up a good quality online class. Even those that have been teaching online for a while might benefit from some extra pointers from an expert. Kristi shared her tips on how to fix some common mistakes that she sees (and that you could be making) when filming and teaching online.
Tip 1 – Team Up
Find another professional to work with that can help check your equipment, your sound and visuals. Recording yourself moving and speaking can be helpful but nothing is better than actually having a person do the testing with you.
Think of it this way – on a film set, an entire department of people work on all aspects of lighting together and then collaborate with hundreds of other professionals in other departments to achieve the perfect shot. Having other eyes, opinions and feedback creates a much better experience for your viewers.
Also make time to regularly take other’s online classes and notice what appeals to you – as well as what doesn’t. Experiencing the same things as the audience will help improve your offering overall. And you never know what you might learn!
Tip 2 – Pay Attention to the Subtle Messaging
Every single thing that you put across to your audience is picked up in both conscious and subconscious ways. Take the camera angle – too low, and you are looking down on your audience; too high, and they are looking down on you (literally and figuratively). If the audio is great, it flows effortlessly into your audience’s ears and mind, but if there is a scratchy or tinny undercurrent in there (or if you play an instrument that sounds bad over your audio) these subtle cues are passed over to your viewer. Without realizing it, you could be turning them off your class.
This is why testing, checking, and having a second set of ears and eyes on your setup is so crucial. Just as a messy background indicates disorganization and lack of preparation, and wearing clothes that blend into your background make you look less significant (and make the viewer squint to see you clearly). All of these elements are noticed, and so perfecting what you can is valuable because the best quality classes connect effortlessly to the audience.
Tip 3 – Invest in Your Audio
When leading any type of online class, your sound is arguably the most important part. The audience might not always have their eyes on you, but they will always be listening, so if you can only choose one thing to invest in, choose a good microphone.
The best microphone for you varies according to your affordability and needs. Kristi recommends the Rode Wireless Go as a relatively affordable, extremely versatile and reliable mic for online movement classes. As a wireless unit, you can tuck the microphone on your body and it still catches your voice no matter what position your body is in. The wireless connection also provides a steady and high-quality audio, whereas some bluetooth connections (particularly cheaper bluetooth earbuds) can be echoey and even a little bit tinny.
Kristi shares a great short video on microphones as she tests them out here.
Tip 4 – Make Sure Music and Instruments Sound Good
We recently wrote an article on using music in your online classes legally, and if you choose to play music or play an instrument in the class, take the time to check the sound out first. Be sure that whatever you are playing is purposeful, and sounds great.
Not all microphones will relay sound well from an instrument, singing bowls can be particularly tricky to play over a ‘regular’ microphone or earbuds, so the effort of playing music could actually detract from enjoyment in your class.
This is where using a second person comes in handy – have that person login online and provide honest feedback on the sound. If it’s not awesome, do some more research and make some adjustments. If you are using music, make sure it is relevant to your class. This is another subtle message that passes across, when music distracts your audience instead of adding to the ambience.
Tip 5 – Use Mute
Muting is not just for your participants!
When your audience is wearing earbuds or headphones, or if they have the sound ramped up, every noise that you make is magnified. And if you have a hoarse voice, a cough, allergies or a cold, those noises are being transmitted right into your audience’s ears, usually at a much greater volume than an in-person experience.
Kristi edits a lot of these noises out of her client’s online classes, and so recognizes the importance of this. So if you need to clear your throat, cough or can see a potential sound hazard coming your way (like a dog about to bark) consider muting to give your audience’s ears a break.
Kristi also recommends pressing mute during Savasana in a yoga class, or a rest period in any other class. Any time that the class is quiet, your mic is even more amplified and unexpected noise can distract your students from their meditation. This is another subtle reference that is important to consider, as clients who are subject to noises that they don’t like, whether consciously or subconsciously, might not want to attend class as often.
Ever heard about the instructor that went to the washroom during Savasana with the mic still on? Don’t let that happen to you!
As you can tell, Kristi has a lot of experience and information to share, and we talked a lot about lighting and setting up your online space, so keep an eye out for our blog coming soon on that!
OfferingTree integrates with Zoom to make setting up your online classes much easier. If you are recording your online classes, you can upload them to your OfferingTree website to share them with your users, and even add them to a membership. To learn more about setting up an OfferingTree website, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristi Adams is a photographer, filmmaker and Yoga teacher based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kristi combines her work as a yoga teacher with her career in filmmaking to consult with yoga teachers and yoga studios to perfect their online offerings.
Learn more about Kristi by following her on social and checking out her website Be Curious. Here are links to Kristi on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and be sure to check out her photography and film website and Instagram. You can also join Kristi’s Facebook group for knowledge-sharing for teaching online.
Check out the earlier articles in this series: