Two years into remote and hybrid work, one would think that by now Zoom meetings and presentations should go smoothly every time. But the truth is, remote work is more complex than ever.
For one, Zoom continues to add and expand features. While it’s great that the platform continues to become more versatile, the interface is now more complicated to navigate. Not to mention the fact that expectations have increased. You’ve been working from home for two years? Surely you must be a multimedia genius by now!
The fact of the matter is that unless you’re trained in production or performance, presenting remotely while also keeping an eye on multiple computer screens, monitoring your audio and video, and handling audience participation do not come easily. Our videographers have backgrounds in television and theatre production, and even they prep and practice for complicated jobs. We’re all human, we’re all trying, and sometimes technology gets the best of us.
Still, there are plenty of simple things to keep in mind that add very little prep work but pay off greatly, and will make you look and sound like the professional you are. Last time, we talked about a no-hassle way to switch to phone audio on Zoom. We wanted to expand a little to talk about audio in general. Here are four suggestions to prevent problems that will take some of the stress out of your next virtual meeting.
1. SPEAK TOWARD YOUR MIC
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it can make all the difference. When you have multiple monitors with documents to read and share, and maybe even handwritten notes in front of you, you may move around a lot more than you think–and your mic might not pick you up. Not all webcam and computer microphones are created equal. Some have surprisingly limited range. Depending on your microphone’s capabilities, your sound might drop off if you do so much as turn your head. When in doubt, always place your microphone where you plan to face for the majority of the time that you are speaking. If necessary, move your webcam to the top of a different monitor or shift your laptop’s location.
2. USE ONLY ONE AUDIO SOURCE PER LOCATION
If two or more meeting participants are going to appear from the same location, connect to only one audio source. Sometimes each participant needs to have their own computer in front of them (this happens a lot in depositions, when both the witness and their attorney appear on video on their own laptops). In those cases, when multiple computers are in the same room, connect separately with a landline phone on speaker. Otherwise, multiple audio sources in the same room will cause unpleasant feedback for all participants in the meeting. Sometimes, participants opt to use the audio on one of the computers in the room instead of a phone. But unless that computer’s microphone is high quality and can pick up the sound of everyone’s voice equally, connecting with a landline (or tabletop speaker or, in a pinch, a cell phone placed in the middle of the table) is better than using a computer.
3. MUTE ALL SOURCES WHEN USING EXTERNAL AUDIO
If you connect to Zoom with a phone device and do not or cannot directly link your video and audio, you will need to mute BOTH Zoom and your computer in order to avoid feedback. This surprises a lot of people, as they (rightly) think that if they mute Zoom then their phone won’t interfere. The truth is, if you mute only Zoom, the sound will feed back from your computer audio. Mute them both. It’s a quick fix that saves everyone’s ears.
4. LOG IN EARLY TO CHECK YOUR AUDIO
And last but certainly not least, nothing beats logging in early to check your setup. If you log into Zoom right before your meeting is about to start, you could have an audio issue and not know it. Log in a few minutes early to make sure Zoom has identified the correct microphone source. We’ve already discussed in the past how to change your audio source in Zoom, but truly, the most important thing is why. Not taking the time to make a quick check could mean that Zoom has auto-detected your computer’s built-in device instead of your expensive, high-quality external mic. In some cases, it may auto-detect an unusable source entirely and not broadcast any of your audio. While it’s usually an easy fix, having your audience miss your opening words because they can’t hear you can cast you in an unfortunate light.
Want to avoid the stress of technology entirely? Come to SPCC! Use one of our laptops for Zoom or bring your own, and enjoy the comfort of our private, furnished rooms and dual failsafe high-speed internet. Attorneys, send your witness to us so you don’t have to worry about whether they will be able to appear. We have full-service office support for printing out exhibits and more, and all visitors are welcome to enjoy complimentary beverages from our kitchen. Call or email us today!