This is a break down of some best practise recommednations for working from home designed to help with video calls, webinars or even DIY live streaming from home.
1. CHECK YOUR INTERNET SPEEDS
Before you start, test your internet speed (test your internet connection speed here), a good connection is crucial.
Minimum of 5 Mbps up / down internet connection is a good minimum base line to ensure solid comms (4G or NBN recommended).
A common occurence with ADSL is usually a good down load speed of approx. 10Mbs with a terrible upload speed of approx. 850kbs (non symmetrical conection). In this day & age of working remotely & video calls, it’s all about upload speed (sending data)!
For best signal strength disconnect your TV or other devices if you are using shared WiFi, as multiple devices can leech valueable bandwidth (slow is bad!).
We do also recommend using CAT5 cable to plug directly into the modem if you have it, a wired internet connection usually has more robust connection speeds & has less outside interference.
If your home internet connection is not stable try using your mobile phone as a hot spot as 4G can have really solid upload speeds in the range of +10Mbs up/down.
Video conferencing can use a lot of bandwidth & particularly now whilst everyone is working from home. Link here to some examples of what sort of data usage might occur using the likes of Zoom.
Netflix & YouTube have already been asked to scale back their codecs to allow for the increase in internet traffic & free up the pipes. So be aware of the risk of service outages as the whole of Australia tries to all work from home, Zoom / Skype, game, home school & stream all their favorite movies at the same time over the next few weeks.
Link here to some recent media coverage on the topic.
2. CHECK YOUR LAPTOP SPECS
A modern laptop with built in camera & microphone – Later than 2014 model is recommended. iPads, tablets & mobile phones might also be suitable. Always test the tools prior to your conference call / video link up.
3. CHECK YOUR WEBCAM SPECS
At least a 720p Webcam (Macbooks are good), if it is windows they have to be checked for clarity.
If the camera doesn’t meet the minimum requirements, consider buying the Logitech C920 which also has a stereo mic built in that might help lift the audio quality of your call. Don’t forget to change the input video / Camera in zoom to the external c920 device.
Always test your set up prior to any calls to make sure it’s in working order.
4. CHECK YOUR MICROPHONE SETTINGS
Check the input microphone by recording yourselves and testing it out, if it doesn’t sound good, consider buying the Logitech C920 which comes with an inbuilt microphone. Don’t forget to change the input audio/microphone in zoom to the external c920 device (or other as needed).
If your laptop or mobile has a microphone jack, consider looking at the Rode Smart Lav, a great way to get high quality audio on compatible devices (may not be compatible with Apple devices). It’s also a great mic to record your own high quality podcasts & audio notes with.
The closer the mic is to your mouth, the better the sound quality, so a clip on lav mic will work great.
5. CHECK YOUR HEADPHONES
Use Headphones/earphones to listen to the other dialled in panellists.
Some modern mobile phone headphones contain a microphone & headphones all-in-one which is a great option. We have been seeing Apple airpods on a lot of calls & media appearances lately. Headphones with a built in mic also reduces the occurrence of feedback & interference of background noise. Logitech do a good, low cost all in one mic / headphone model that plugs into a jack.
Remember to test & also note that Apple devices do have their own proprietory set of accessories.
6. LIGHTING RECOMMENDATIONS
A well lit area with a light colored background wall will help you be easily visible on camera.
Make sure the light is hitting your face so we can see you, not behind your head (no silhouettes).
The laptop screen will push some light onto your face or you could even use a reading lamp to help light you if you have one handy.
7. LOOK AT YOUR WEBCAM (DON’T WATCH YOURSELF)
Look straight into your webcam for the best audience experience. Avoid googly eyes / watching your screen unless needed.
This is the number error everyone makes, you can look at your screen from time to time to view others BUT when you are talking, look straight into the camera for maximum viewer engagement.
8. MINIMISE BACKGROUND NOISE
Minimum background noise / disturbance during the meeting is essential. Background noise makes it hard to hear you & the sound can spill into the call causing interferance for others.
If you have a pet / baby / or someone else the house the meeting should happen in a quiet room with the door closed, while the others remain quiet for the duration of the call where possible.
Also be aware of things like outside noise from lawn mowers, leaf blowers, construction & the like that can cause distraction.
A stark room with smooth surfaces like a bathroom with have a lot of echo & make it more difficult to hear you.
Where a room with carpet / pillows & soft furnishings will help absorb any reverberation / noise bouncing around & make your audio clearer.
You can also mute yourself when you are not speaking to reduce interference on the call. If there is lot’s of background noise there is a high chance that others may end the call, mute you or tune out.
Always test your set up prior to the call.
Hope these tips help, all the best for great video calls for you & your audience here on in!