There’s a lot of people staying home right now communicating with co-workers, friends, and family over their phones and computers.
Here’s a few simple FREE tips and/or purchases to improve the video and audio quality of those calls better.
Good audio + bad video = fine. Bad audio + good video = unusable.
Better audio means better communication.
The simplest way to improve your audio is to use headphones. Wired, wireless, with or without a mic – it doesn’t matter. Because the audio of the person you’re talking to is now going directly into your ears and not back into the mic you’re talking into, the call will be way, way better for everyone. Headphones with a mic are the best because it puts the mic closer to your mouth and picks up less echo from your room.
Now, if you don’t like the look of headphones, you need to move around a little more, or hours of wearing headphones is killing your ears, the next best thing is to get an external mic that you can move away from your phone or computer’s speakers and closer to your mouth.
I like this Shure MV5 because it works with both computers as well as iPhones and Android. It comes with a stand, looks cool, and has a standard 1/4″ thread so you can use tons of other stands like podcast desk stands for flexibility.
The absolute best possible way to improve your video quality is to improve your lighting – the brighter the better. This doesn’t necessarily require doing anything other than turning around or moving slightly.
The simple rule for lighting is having the brightest light source in your space (window, room light, lamp) in FRONT of you.
DO NOT sit with a giant window at your back or the room light behind you if it all possible. This means all the light is hitting the back of your head instead of your face and your phone or computer will turn down the brightness on your face to compensate and you’ll likely be really dark.
Face the brightest light and you’ll be good.
If that’s not possible because of your room layout, where your kitchen table is located or if the “brightest” light is still dim, you’re going to want to add some light in front of you to offset the bright lights behind you.
If you have extra floor-standing or desk lamps, those can work great provided they’re actually shining light on your face. If not, here’s two options that will help.
This ring light is really popular in the makeup/beauty YouTube space for how it even casts light on your face – but you just have to get pretty close to it and it can make your eyes look a bit creepy.
If you have a bit more budget, this LED panel light is so flexible and versatile and can go back a lot further while still lighting up your face. (Don’t forget to add the stand as well)
Height & Stability
NO ONE wants to look up your nose.
Having your laptop or phone sitting on the desk means everyone is looking directly up your nostril cavities and gives the impression you’re looking down on them.
Raise it up!
Get the camera on your laptop or phone level with your eyes.
The easiest way for laptops is a stack of (very stable) books or a sturdy box.
Phones can be a little bit trickier to get them to balance right and not fall. This is where a simple stand helps. I like this one because it’ll work sitting or standing which can be nice to mix things up after a long day:
Internet Upload Speed
When you’re watching videos on the internet, your download speed is important.
But when you’re sending video from your house somewhere, it’s the upload speed that’s most important.
Most home internet focuses on the download speed for streaming Netflix or YouTube, but if you want your video to be clear to others, you want to make sure you’ve got fast upload – preferably 5mbps upload, but even if you can get 2mbps, that will be ok.
If your upload speed is too slow, everyone will see you blocky and choppy.
Lots of internet providers will let you double your upload speed for an extra few bucks a month. Definitely worth it in times like these if you can afford it.
Bonus tip: If you can move your wireless router into your office or as close as possible to wherever you’re working. The farther away from your wireless router you are, the more the speed drops off. A wired ethernet connection is king.
Not being able to communicate in person is tough. These tips will mean you give everyone around you the best shot of hearing and seeing you clearly.