To get your message across, it’s important for people to hear you, and see you, but there’s something more. Your voice and face is also your tool of enchantment, it makes people better understand you. So, how can we make you shine, without breaking the bank (mostly).
I have seen so many online faces in the last couple of months to last me a lifetime. How come people still sound and look so weird in their online conversations? The quick answer is: people can’t, or don’t check.
There you go: Tip # 1: always check your vanity mirror and vanity headphone, to check if you are audible AND visible.
Tip #2: Computer/ laptop You’ll probably be find with any laptop, or computer, but if you have an extra big screen, you’ll find working will be a bit more pleasant.
Tip# 3 Face your webcam straight on to prevent up-the-nose webcam angles 🤣. Use a parcel box to boost the height of your laptop and use separate keyboards.
Tip #4 Network cable! If you connect your computer with a cable to your router, the quality of your video sessions wil drastically improve! Here’s an example cable. You can vary the length depending on the distance between your computer and your router.
There’s nothing less reliable than a Wifi connection.
Tip #5 Maximise your bandwidth For example: ask your roommates/ family to minimise usage of streaming services like Twitch, Youtube, Netflix and online gaming.
Tip #6 Working headset (headphone AND microphone) connected to your laptop. In our experience wired headsets work better than Bluetooth headsets. Most of the time your phone will be equipped with a headset that works okay.
Don’t have a microphone? No worries! As long as you use a headphone, you’ll be fine. My favourites are still the Apple iPhone headphones, but please check out Aartjan’s best conference call headsets list. It might take a while, but his picks are cheap and sound good.
Tip #7 Please use wired headsets!. Please do not use bluetooth headsets. The microphone sound quality can be very poor when combined to Webex and batteries of bluetooth headsets are commonly shorter than you like. If you have a wired headsets, please use that.
Tip #8 External mouse and/ or trackpad You’ll probably be scrolling, zooming and even drawing some during the day, so mouse users will have a slight benefit. Also, if you have a seperate mouse and trackpad, it will likely be a little more silent.
Tip #9 Good webcam, good light. We like to see your faces, so make sure your webcam works. Make sure your face is well lit, so everybody can read your expression and help out before you even ask.
Tip # 10 Smart phone with Whatsapp with Whatsapp is handy to keep taps on your coach and team. Make sure you have other backup means to contact everybody in case something goes wrong. There’s nothing more awkward than finding out .
I like to up my game, so what microphone should I get?
That’s the most asked question I get. Here’s some very common and great working microphones. These are my favourites (that are available at moment of writing this article)
- The Blue Yeti Nano: https://www.coolblue.nl/product/819845/blue-yeti-nano-grijs.html It’s small, it’s relatively affordable and sounds good. It’s also USB and runs out of the box. Make sure to also buy a stand of some sort, because like any microphone: this one needs to be close to your face. (two firsts)
- The Samson Q2u: https://www.amazon.de/Samson-Recording-Handmikrofon-Cakewalk-software/dp/B001R747SG/ref=sr_1_5?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&keywords=samson+q2u&qid=1583786108&sr=8-5 (This mic is perfect if your space has more reflective areas than normal. You need to almost eat this microphone, so a flexible boom-arm to mount the microphone is preferable. It’s USB).
- The Audio Technica ATR2100x-USB: https://www.amazon.de/Audio-Technica-ATR-Series-ATR2100x-USB-Nierenmikrofon/dp/B07ZPBFVKK/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_de_DE=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&crid=EYWCP3LUCK92&keywords=audio-technica+atr2100x-usb&qid=1583786385&sprefix=audio-technica+atr%2Caps%2C166&sr=8-1 (Basically the same features as the Samson, only a slightly different sound.)
- The Røde NT-USB Mini: https://www.coolblue.nl/product/857937/rode-nt-usb-mini.html A good mic. Like the Blue Yeti fully USB and also: make sure it’s close to your mic.
Accessorise: the microphone stand / boom arm
To get your microphone close to your mouth, most micrphones need to be boosted a bit. Put it on a stack of books, or a little box, or use a microphone stand, or boom arm.
The boom arm and stand might also any sound you make when you hit your table, or use your keyboard too vigorously. Here’s my top boom arms and mic stands.
- Boomarm: The Røde PSA1 https://www.coolblue.nl/product/732716/rode-psa1.html Perfectly fine boom arm. Does what it says on the tin.
- Boomarm: The Blue Compass https://www.thomann.de/intl/blue_compass.htm Uses a little bit awkward system to balance the mic, but looks beautiful.
- Boomarm: Millenium (house brand of Thomann) MA-2040 https://www.thomann.de/intl/millenium_ma_2040.htm Does the trick, and it’s cheap. Remember: you get what you pay for.
- Normal Microphone stand: K&M 210/9 https://www.thomann.de/intl/km_210-9_stativ.htm It’s big, it’s heavy, it does the trick.
Get the microphone CLOSE, CLOSER to you mouth
Okay, what never is stated enough on the sales websites is the following: get the microphone close to your mouth! Most common rule of thumb is:
a maximum of two fists should fit between your mouth and the microphone
If there is more room between you and your microphone, you wil hear more and more of your room.
Follow the wise words of these people
Why repeat what others said better. The short of these videos content is: get a mic that’s near to your mouth, and rejects the sound from your room as much as possible. Make sure your room is sounding ‘cosy’ by using bookshelves, furniture, curtains and carpets. And finally: test your audio, so you can hear yourself, and optimise where possible.
The short of any sound improvement: If you want to drastically optimise your audio for presenting, it might be good to take a sneak peak at streamers and youtubers. I often advice looking at these videos. They are often times quite specific to their craft, but have very valid points that might help you out: