[At-Large] A few suggestions for when you're on camera in ZOOM!

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Tue Oct 13 20:08:09 UTC 2020

I've done a lot of video conference stuff and have learned a few lessons:

1. Often most of the actual useful content of these video conferences is 
in the audio.

Try to be in a quiet place with minimal hard surfaces on walls and floors.

I have found that the best way to get good audio without breakup is for 
as many users as possible to avoid having an open sound path between 
their speakers and their microphone.  It is really bad when the 
microphone can hear the speakers - the software has to work hard to fix 
things, and often does so rather badly.

A good way to get rid of that path is to use ear buds rather than 
speakers, even better if the buds have a microphone widget built in.

The best way is to use a full earpiece/mouthpiece setup (I've got a nice 
Plantronics/Poly call-center USB headset with noise-cancellation - it 
isn't cheap, about $150 USD - but well worth it.)

As an alternative I've found it useful to wear a full two-ear covering 
set of headphones and a good directional microphone with wind screen or 
foam filter.

2. Be extremely polite and try to avoid beginning to talk until the 
prior person is finished.  (This can be hard given the delays that are 
natural to these kinds of conferences.)

3. I've found that software such as Manycam on Windows and Mac (I can't 
remember the name of the near equivalent on Linux) are really useful if 
you want to overlay text on the video or cut between screen and camera 
images or sound sources.  These tools can burn a lot of CPU, so you may 
need a machine with at least a recent i5 4-core processor (or better, 
and a good, but quiet, processor cooler - my poor old Macbook tends to 
get rather warm when I do this.)


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