The Best Way to Improve your Audio for your Next Zoom Meeting
When I coach people on how to improve their Zoom feeds, most of the time I focus on their webcam shots. I think by now most folks know the visual rules to create a good video-conference look, even if they still choose to ignore them.
And let’s face it, it’s a pain to set up your webcam properly with the right lighting and angle. I know that. And I get it when so many people choose to simply turn off their webcams. Why do all that work to create a professional-looking shot when you don’t have to?
Now, of course I feel you absolutely should turn on your webcam. If you’re not projecting your own visual, you’re not truly showing up. You’re just a disembodied voice. Granted, adding yourself to a sea of tiny faces in a stack of little boxes on the computer screen may not fit your definition of being ‘present.’ But it’s what the technology offers. Maybe in the future, we’ll be able to digitize our bodies into 3D holograms. (Then, you’ll really need to dress up again!)
The Importance of Clear Audio
Whether you choose to hide in the Zoom shadows or not, you do need to be heard. That much is not up for debate. And if you sound like you’re in an echo chamber or in a distant hallway, you’re simply not going to be an effective participant in your virtual meetings.
Ultimately, how you sound is more important than anything else. And that can be difficult to track on an ongoing basis. (You can always see your webcam shot, but unless you actively test your audio signal in your settings, you wouldn’t otherwise know.)
How to Improve your Sound
The simple rule you should follow to project clear audio is to always wear a headset or earbuds. Sure, you can rely on your onboard computer microphone, but that’s going to offer a more muffled and distant quality to your voice. So, wear your headset!
And you’ve got to make sure over time that your computer continues to recognize your headset and not default back to its own microphone. (Set-it-and-forget-it is a recipe for “I can’t hear you very well!”)
Headsets have become Invisible
And if you’ve taken the important step to turn on your webcam, you can’t then play the vanity card and leave your headsets behind. Sure, you can choose to wear wireless earbuds like AirPods, which minimize the hardware you’ve got attached to your head. But I think by now, everyone is used to seeing people wearing headsets on Zooms, even when formally presenting to an audience. Hey, TV sportscasters have been doing it for decades. It’s not dorky. It’s fine.
No, headsets aren’t really invisible, but they’re entirely expected under the circumstances.
Can You Hear Me?
If you don’t want to fully show up to your Zoom meetings by not turning on your webcam, that’s your choice. But if you’re projecting bad audio, you just can’t play in the Zoom sandbox with others.
So, please wear your computer headset!