Photo courtesy of VISUALS on Unsplash

May 7, 2021

Video Call 101: Look And Sound Better

Thought you’d leave the video call back in 2020? Yeah, buddy, we all did. But the pandemic had other plans.

Since it looks like many of us will continue to use video as we move into the second half of 2021, we thought it was worth a round-up of our fave tech for looking (and sounding) your very best over the interwebz.

From which products we recommend (and why they’re great) to how you can best set yourself up for video-calling success just about anywhere, here are our top tips for crushing your next Zoom meeting, Teams chat, or Google Meet … 

A SOLID MICROPHONE

Ask anyone who produces video content what piece of hardware you should never skimp on, and they’ll tell you: a microphone. 

There are few things worse than listening to a video call where it sounds like the other person is talking to through a tin can filled with bits of dryer lint.

Hushed favourites include … 

Blue Yeti USB Microphone: For less than $200, this USB microphone gives you professional-grade sound just by plugging it directly into any computer. No fancy set-up necessary, and it’s even equipped with its own built-in volume and mute controls. 

Shure MV5-LTG Digital Condenser Microphone: Shure is known for its quality microphones, and the beauty of this model is that you can get it bundled with its own set of high-quality headphones. It’s fully USB compatible and very low profile, so it won’t get in the way if you’re working with limited space or on a laptop.

A GREAT WEBCAM

Even though just about every laptop has a built-in camera, that doesn’t mean you should stick with it. There’s just no comparison with a quality, stand-alone webcam that connects to your machine. 

If you’re doing a lot of video calls and you want to look your very best in front of clients and colleagues, spend the money on a web camera that offers 1080p resolution or better. 

Hushed favourites include … 

Logitech C930e Business Webcam: The C930e has everything you want from a webcam: 1080p resolution, a 90° view angle, auto-focus technology, dual built-in microphones, an adjustable stand, and even a privacy shutter — just in case you forgot to cover up your well-worn T-shirt with a blazer before entering a video call.

Razer Kiyo webcam: What makes the Kiyo special, aside from its great image quality, is that it includes a built-in ring light. These handy glowing circles are flattering to anyone’s appearance and display you in great lighting, even if you’re taking a video call in a dimly lit basement. 

THE RIGHT LIGHTING

Good lighting can make a tremendous difference in how people perceive you during a video call. So if you’re not able to position your computer in front of a window (with a sheer or white curtain to softly diffuse the light — easier said than done), you might want to consider buying a ring light.

Ring lights might look high-tech in person, but they work wonders for lighting people up nicely on video calls. (No one wants to look at you lurking in the shadows like some kind of Disney villain.) They’re easy to use, and once you try one, you won’t go back.

Hushed favourites include … 

We like affordable but awesome models like the Neewer Ring Light Kit 18-Inch and UBeesize Ring Light 8-Inch, both less than a hundred bucks.

POLISH YOUR BACKGROUND

What’s in the background of your typical video call? If it looks cluttered, disorganized, or just drab behind you, you won’t come across nearly as well as if you were backed by a brightly coloured piece of art or a bookcase. If you take a lot of video calls, consider staging your background with plants, books, art, curtains, or other decor.

MIND YOUR WARDROBE

What do you typically wear on a video call? We find solid, bright colours to be the most flattering on video — even nice prints, especially if your background is simple. A few of our Hushed staffers like to leave a few makeup essentials on their desk, too, so they can quickly do a touch-up before an unexpected video call. You might not need lipstick and blush in person, but it can prevent you from looking washed out and ghost-y on camera.

A BIT OF SOUND ADVICE

You’ve probably realized by now that echoes and sound glitches are an annoying part of many video calls. Our houses and offices are certainly not professional recording studios, but thankfully, there are a few tricks you can try to boost the sound quality of your next video call.

  • CARPET: Carpet is better than hard flooring because carpet muffles sound and prevents echos, so consider throwing down a rug in your home office. 
  • CURTAINS: If you can’t take your video call in a windowless room, make sure you close the drapes to help prevent any echoes off the glass.
  • ANGLES: Having trouble with a laptop’s built-in mic not picking up your voice clearly? Try stacking your laptop on a couple of books to get it off a hard surface (like a desk or table). It can improve your mic sound drastically.

Where you love ’em or hate ’em, video calls are here to stay for at least the next little while. By taking a few simple steps to ensure you look and sound your best, you might find yourself looking forward to the next one … at least until someone forgets they’re muted. 😉

Photo courtesy of VISUALS on Unsplash

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