Having a quality video-conferencing setup can make or break your practice, as video calls like it or not are now the norm. In the previous article of this series, I reviewed cameras, backgrounds, and lighting. This article will touch on microphones and other tips to help your calls run as smoothly as possible.
Most laptops and webcams come pre-equipped with a built-in microphone. Many times, the quality of these will suffice, but prior to deciding if your built-in is sufficient, you should have a call with someone else who can give you honest feedback as to how your sound quality is.
If your sound quality leaves something to be desired, there are a number of inexpensive, decent-quality mics available through most electronic retailers. Here are some options:
- Just search for “USB microphone” in your internet browser and you’ll find plenty of options that can plug directly into your computer and eliminate the need for a pre-amp or a sound mixer. Just make sure you have an extra USB port to support it! Once your microphone is set-up, make sure you see your USB microphone under the microphone device options in your video conferencing program and it’s set to default to the new one vs. your built-in.
- Purchase a headset that has a microphone attached to it. This can be a great option if you tend to move your head a lot when you speak, as it will make sure that the mic stays close to you at all times.
Another quick pointer regarding sound quality applies to those using Zoom only. If you are running the current version of Zoom, you should have an option to “suppress background noise.” This option is especially useful if you are in a shared workspace. It can help eliminate or minimize typing sounds, fan/central air noise, and even background voices. This feature does use more of your CPU’s processing resources, but that benefit typically outweighs the processing capacity. Click here to learn how to enable this if you haven’t already.
On that note, CPU and RAM should also be taken into consideration before you start a video call. Using live video can create a big strain on many devices and steps should be taken to mitigate and conserve as much processing power as possible. Here are some ways to do that:
Use essential applications only. Before you begin your conference call, make sure to close out of as many applications as possible. If you leave a lot of applications running in the background, they will take processing power away from Zoom and your video may lag.
Reboot your computer. At least once in the 24 hours before your call, you should reboot/restart your device. This is the best way to free up processing power on your machine, as sometimes small processes continue to run even when you close out of an application. A reboot will ensure that all unnecessary processes have been closed and you’re starting with a clean slate.
Maximize your internet speed. Your ability to transmit video and audio will also be impacted by the quality and speed of your internet. Zoom recommends having an upload speed of at least 3 Megabits per second to sufficiently participate in group video conferences and stream live HD video. We’ve found that if you’re sharing your screen or a presentation, it should be even higher for the best performance. Before you decide to upgrade your internet, make sure you are not running your device off Wi-Fi and are instead hardwired into your router.
This will help your computer to maintain the fastest possible connection to your ISP. This configuration may not always be possible depending on the distance between your computer and the modem. If you have to rely on Wi-Fi, make sure you position yourself as close to the router as possible. It may also be prudent to take as many other devices off the Wi-Fi as possible (phones, tablets) to reduce the load. To check your internet speed, go to net. If you’ve taken the steps outlined above and your internet speed is still slow, you might need to upgrade your package with your provider.
Last but not least, a dual monitor setup should be an essential component if you are presenting something with a script or talking points you want to be able to reference.
With dual monitors, scripts can be positioned on the screen right below the camera to allow you to keep your eye-contact as close to the camera as possible and your presentation can be shared from another screen that you are not looking at. More simply, put your speaker view on the monitor with your camera and put the presentation view on your other monitor. You can also move your other meeting controls and the participant window to the presentation screen to make them easier to see and manage while you’re on the call. Just make sure you haven’t selected the option to “Show my Zoom Windows to other participants when I am screen sharing” under the Share Screen menu or participants will see all your Zoom windows too!
Hopefully, these tips will be help you to run seamless, professional video calls. Are you doing something else to wow your clients or innovate in this area? We’d love to hear about it. Post your comments below to share.
Technical Support Representative
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128