This post concludes my two-part series of tips on optimizing presentation audio quality for webinar or webcast presenters. Today's post provides recommendations when using a telephone to present. If you use a computer microphone, go back and read yesterday's post (which also includes some background and reasons why you should care).
As with the previous set of recommendations, do what you can within your own pragmatic constraints. Every person's situation is different, but the goal of getting better sound is universal.
- If possible, use an old-fashioned desk phone wired to a wall jack. These are getting harder to find, but dedicated wiring still produces the best quality and reliability.
- Avoid VoIP-based telephones. Many small businesses have phones that piggy-back on the office internet. They are prone to noise, interference, and buffering whenever there is a heavy instantaneous load on data usage on the network. The telephone portion gets lower priority than data. By the way, VoIP telephones are different and distinct from cable-modem telephones such as you might have at home, provided by your cable provider (at a separate cost from your internet cable). Those keep the circuits separate and are okay to use.
- If you are calling from home, temporarily disconnect any cordless phone base units that are wired into your phone jacks. This sounds crazy, but cordless units can affect quality on other phones even when they aren't in use!
- Avoid speakerphones. My old post on why you should "Smash Your Speakerphone" still applies. If you are forced to use a speakerphone to pick up several presenters in a room, try to find the type that has satellite microphones you can position in front of each person. Or gather the presenters together and slide the base unit as close to everyone as possible. Face directly toward the microphone while speaking. And consider standing up a large book or binder behind the microphone to reduce room reflections coming back from the far wall.
- Avoid mobile/cellular phones. It's just too hard to maintain a strong, steady, unbroken signal for the full length of a webinar. If you are forced to use a mobile phone, keep it plugged in, which helps boost signal strength and ensures you will not run out of power during the session.
- If your phone has a headphone jack, use that. (Dedicated professionals can invest in third-party headphone adapters that work with older phones, but this is overkill for most people.)
And I'll repeat two last headset cautions from the previous post, since they apply to telephone use as well:
- Avoid iPhone-style earbud/microphone headsets. Do you use that little white cable with a microphone bulge in the cord? Stop it. The cord rubs against your shirt, producing noise. The microphone is also relatively insensitive. If this is absolutely your only available device, get a paperclip or small spring binder clip and attach the microphone to your collar as close to your mouth as possible. Then remember to speak towards it at all times, and not turn your head away to look at something else.
- Avoid Bluetooth wireless headsets. I know… They are tremendously convenient. But they introduce yet another compression/transmission step in the chain, lowering audio quality even before it gets to the web conference input. And they have a nasty habit of running out of power halfway through the presentation.
If you have additional suggestions or anecdotes, please add them in the comments!