We are all doing it now – in order to work, we need to video conference. Maybe you’re also joining on a podcast or starting your own.
I was on a video call where participants used the webcams on their laptops, which pointed up to their faces. Others had their webcams on their monitors, looking down on their faces. Some cases, the lighting in the room was horrible, and they did not look their best.
These issues can reflect badly on the participant. It could be no different than showing up to work in tattered clothes. Looking – and sounding your best is important when you are teleconferencing, joining live streams, and even podcasting.
It only takes a few tweaks to make your area look and sound so much better.
How to Set Up Your Area
First of all, assess which room you will use for your teleconference. Is it a room that can be closed off to family traffic? Does the room have a noisy bounce to it when you clap your hands? When you sit in front of the camera, what do people see behind you?
Some people might not have many options for their space. Especially if they live in a small apartment. But the good news is you don’t need much space to set up for conference.
A good spot that has minimal clutter allows for the best scene. If you can turn your desk so a wall is at your back is the best option. In the photo above, I was on my couch, with the laptop on my lap.
While it looks OK, people will notice that I am on my couch. The notebook cam is lower than my face, so you get an upward view – looking into my nostrils. The lighting is glaring on my glasses, and the back-light is washing out the scene.
Webcam – How to Place
If you use the webcam from your laptop, then raising the camera to eye-level is key. Setting the computer on a desk, raising it with a box or stand, and you’ll look a lot better when presenting.
This laptop stand from Pyle is only $16, and can raise the computer up to 13 inches off the desktop. You can then level the screen so your face is properly in the shot.
This stand collapses quickly, and takes up minimal storage space.
When you level the screen, you can see what’s going on, and give the illusion that you are looking at the person, rather than the screen, where their faces actually are.
A webcam on a stand allows you to keep the laptop on your desk, especially if you are using it to help give a presentation. Something like the Logitech Webcam 920S can be put on a tripod, and works well in PC and Mac computers. Installing the software allows you to control the light, color, and focus.
A webcam can also distance you a bit, so you have more than a head in the shot. That way, you can show off your clothing style as well.
Using a Phone or Tablet Camera?
It’s important to put the device on a stand, plugged in, and don’t forget to silence the calls or notifications. Also, adjust to the teleconference – if everyone else is using a phone, and the video is vertical, then turn yours to match. If the majority of devices is landscape, then you should be, too.
Remember to position yourself in frame to look your best.
Add a Microphone
You might have seen many people use their ear buds as a microphone, and to hear the other participants. Then you have those who grab their headset microphones to talk – causing handling noise.
When you use your laptop’s audio, there could be external sounds that you don’t know about. For example, if you are typing while your microphone is unmuted, people hear the “Ticky, tick” sounds. Not to mention if your tapping or hitting your desk…
An external USB microphone helps counter that. I am a fan of the podium microphone style. The gooseneck brings the mic right to your face, and it doesn’t block you from others.
This Fifine USB microphone has a mute button, along with a volume adjustment so you are not too quiet, or too loud.
If I have a nervous table tap, I can add a towel underneath the base to reduce noise. I also can set this up to how I talk into a microphone – next to the mouth, or at a distance.
The quick answer is: Yes. Wireless earbuds makes sure you can hear what’s going on, doesn’t cause any feedback when the mic is on, and cords don’t get in your way.
I like to keep the mic separate from the headset. The biggest reason why is you can still walk away from a mic. Let’s say you have to attend to someone at the door – your conversation doesn’t get into any conference or stream.
I am a big fan of the Apple Airpods Pro. The noise cancelling features can keep you from being super distracted from external noises. My studio camera is slightly to the right of me, so I can show a side profile. This allows my right ear to not be on camera all the time. Therefore, you may never know I have an Airpods Pro in.
Any headset will do. If you wear a wired headset, consider a headphone extension cord so you have enough to move around.
Other Tips, Tricks
I show you a before and after in the video. There are many other things you can do when you’re planning to teleconference or be on a podcast show.
The bigger question is – what do you do when you have to go online? What cameras do you use? What microphones do you plug in? Let me know!