Streaming Technology Equipment Kit for Speakers
How to Look & Sound Great Online
Prepared by Jason Guille, Stream of Consciousness
Today, there are more and more people producing online events and conferences. Where once looking and sounding great on a Skype video call didn’t matter as much due to its novelty, today’s professional online environment demands a higher level of quality and greater attention to detail for streaming technologies.
We need our content to be a clean and professional reflection of ourselves, our work, our organizations.
The bad news is that it takes some time, intention and investment to reach a solid foundational level for producing high-quality online events and conferences. The good news is that it doesn’t take as much time, effort or investment as one might fear.
With this white paper the focus is on small-to-medium size events and production budgets. These type of online meetings and events tend to be comprised of single speakers, usually at their home or (home) office, and often using video conferencing platforms like ZOOM (or similar).
Based on our day-to-day digital event production practices, we present options that empower you to make the best decisions around the technical equipment for your particular needs. We present options in a simple matrix:
There are four technical pillars to digital event production quality:
Audio: We are spending more time working and meeting online than ever before. A quality microphone delivering clean audio is no longer a bonus, it’s a must.
Video: It is in the quality of cameras where we can often make the most dramatic presentation improvements with quite minimal effort.
Lighting: Typically the most overlooked of the four pillars, paying attention to basic lighting can go a long way to a great looking presentation.
Internet: Given most of our online meetings and events are real-time and live, the best cameras and mics won’t matter if your internet connection is poor.
A few quick pointers to help ensure your audio is clear, crisp & professional:
- THE MAGIC OF EARBUDS: Don’t yet have a good mic? Use the mic on your average earbuds; it is generally far superior to your laptop mic.
- ANTICIPATE THE INTERRUPTIONS: Sometimes it’s the furnace, or the door, the dog, the kids, the neighbour or the courier that interrupts your online events — think ahead and avoid interruptions.
- SILENCE YOUR DEVICES: The most common background sound during an online meeting or event? Your other devices. Take a moment to put them on silent and make them all ssshhh.
- DON’T ‘FIDDLE’: The noises you don’t notice as a speaker, can be vastly amplified for us as listeners. Put the pen down, don’t rock your chair, stop tapping the desk.
A few quick pointers to help ensure your video is sharp, rich & professional
- CAMERA FRAMING: Get your camera up to eye level. This creates a much improved viewing experience, and increases relatability as well as retention.
- SIMPLIFY THE BACKGROUND: Busy backgrounds are hard on the eyes and lead to distraction. Clean it up, clear it out, and let people focus on you. And, remember digital backgrounds usually cut out anything that moves on screen.
- THE SMUDGE FACTOR: Use a microfibre cloth to clean the lens of your camera before each event. This small act makes a big quality difference.
- THE RULE OF THIRDS: Your face should be in the top 3rd of the frame; you don’t want a lot of ‘open space’ above your head but rather hold your space and create a pleasing viewing experience.
A few quick pointers to help ensure your lighting is warm, simple & effective.
These tips are especially important for black and other speakers of colour to ensure their webcams don’t merely broadcast a silhouetted image, but a true and clear likeness.
- EYE LEVEL LIGHTING: Often speakers use overhead lights, and it’s just not flattering, because they create big shadows on their faces. Instead, place the lights at eye level and light directly from the front.
- DIFFUSED, NOT HOT: You want a warm, diffused, balanced light on your face. 3 lamps with shades is better than 1 open bulb nearby.
- DARK = NOISY: Most laptop and webcams can’t handle low-light situations and will become very noisy/pixelated. Bring up the light!
- LIGHT THE BACKGROUND: The speaker and their background benefit from different lighting. Light your face first, then use different lights for what’s behind you.
A few quick pointers to help ensure your internet is as fast & stable as possible.
- HARDLINE OVER WIFI: Wherever possible, connect to your modem with an Ethernet cable instead of over WIFI. Stability of your internet connection will greatly improve.
- A DEDICATED CONNECTION: When possible, use a dedicated connection that is not shared. Ask household members to disconnect their devices during important online meetings and events.
- CLOSE BACKGROUND APPS: Common culprits for bandwidth usage issues include Dropbox, Netflix, Google Sync, Time Machine, email and other browsers.
- YOUR OTHER DEVICES: Don’t forget your other computers, tablets, smart phones, digital TV and streaming devices and equipment that also access your internet. For best quality, turn everything else off.
PDF Series (for download)
- Fundamentals of Great Online Conferences: A Practitioner’s Perspective on Design and Technology
- Streaming Technology Equipment Kit for Speakers
- Online Conferences: Essential Tips for Speakers Or How to Achieve True Participation and Learning Online
- Online Conferences Thrive on Attendees’ Participation: From ‘Attendee’ to ‘Participant’ in 7 steps
- Accessibility and Inclusion: Creating Better Online Conference Experiences for More People More Often
- Financial Considerations of Online Conferences: Cost Drivers and Revenue Streams
Beginner: Samson Meteor Mic Samson’s Meteorite is the universal solution for capturing high-quality recordings on your computer. Small in size, big in quality.
Intermediate: AT2020 The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a cost-effective studio condenser microphone intended for high quality voice recordings and streaming.
Advanced: Blue Yeti Pro Bring serious quality and clarity to your voice recordings with the Blue Yeti X professional condenser USB microphone.
Beginner: Logitech C922 Pro The Logitech c922 Pro is arguably the most popular webcam on the market today. For about $150 you can start streaming in 1080p!
Intermediate: Logitech BRIO The most professional look you can get from a webcam. For around $200 you get high dynamic range, amazing autofocus and 4K recording!
Advanced: Lumix G7 Ready to go pro? This mirrorless camera features a micro four thirds sensor and rich colours. A common choice for pro streamers.
Beginner: Viltrox L132T The entry-level video light for self-produced online appearance. It has a low cost, high brightness and adjustable colour temperature.
Intermediate: Elgato Key Light This is a professional studio LED panel with 2500 lumens, it’s colour adjustable and app-enabled for PC or MAC.
Advanced: Aputure LS C120D II Ready to go pro? The Aputure C120D II is a studio-grade light that boasts 5500K colour temperature and precise colour rendering.