Technology is constantly evolving in new and exciting ways. These advancements have positively impacted almost every facet of our lives, but their conveniences have also brought forth accompanying frustrations.
Video calls are one of these advancements and are now one of the primary methods of communication. Whether it’s a meeting for a job, an online interview, or catching up with friends and family, the video call has become a go-to way of sharing info and reaching out in varied ways.
The coronavirus pandemic has further increased the need and importance of video calls. Being forced to stay separated from loved ones or work exclusively from home are ways of life that have made video calls even more crucial. Simultaneously, this increase in video calls worldwide has further highlighted the issue of audio quality as we communicate virtually.
Many factors affect the quality of video calls, and there are a surprising number of steps you can take to enhance them. It’s easy to solely blame the Wi-Fi connection and not give it a second thought, but there are plenty of other things that can be done to improve the audio quality for video calls.
It’s not always technology that causes poor audio quality. It could be as simple as where you make your call that can greatly affect how well the sound operates during the video call.
Sometimes the audio can sound strange or distorted if it reflects off of surfaces. Flat walls are the worst for this, so avoid taking your call near blank walls or in small rooms.
Sound reflects off of the ceiling and floor as well, though not as much. Being in a room with carpets or a rug helps tremendously. Other items, such as curtains, pictures, and paintings, can assist with diffusing the reflected noise.
A large room with carpeting or rugs is your best bet for having good audio quality during video calls. Also, it’s better to be in the center of the room during video calls. Windows and doors within the room aren’t ideal, but their surfaces can be muffled with curtains or blinds, which help diffuse soundwaves.
It’s best to try to cut down any extracurricular noise from the outside. During video calls, you only want the sounds that are coming to and from your device to be audible. All other sounds can negatively impact audio quality, making things frustrating to participants on the call.
Make your audio calls away from windows and doors that lead outside. Cars honking, lawn mowers roaring, dogs barking, and babies crying can severely disrupt video calls for you and those on the other end. Certainly it’s not always easy to magically remove these everyday distractions, but do the best you can.
Avoid turning on other electronic items during video calls. Sure, it’s enjoyable to have a TV show running or a podcast on for background noise, but this isn’t ideal at all for quality audio during video calls. Make sure these extracurricular sounds are paused or turned off before starting your video calls. Beyond unneeded sounds surrounding your space, it’s important to focus on the individuals you’re talking to during video calls. Outside electronics take away from that focus.
The microphone captures your voice during video calls, so it’s important to pay attention to it if your audio quality is suffering. There are several simple ways to improve the quality of your microphone to make the audio come through much better.
Microphone issues can sometimes stem from the simplest of problems. For instance, the farther away you are from your mic, the longer it takes for your voice to reach it. This means that more of the extracurricular room sounds will be picked up by the microphone, which can make your voice echo-y and difficult to understand.
So make sure to stay close to your microphone throughout the video call. Turning away from the microphone as you talk disrupts the sound quality of your voice, so be sure to face it directly when speaking.
The most common devices used for video calls are laptops and smartphones. Unfortunately, both types of technology have their own issues that can affect the audio quality of video calls.
When making a regular call, the microphone on a smartphone is usually sufficient. When making a video call, however, the phone has to serve as the mechanism for both the speaker and accompanying video. The short distance between the microphone and speaker can cause distortion and lessened quality due to the competition, so to speak, between the speaker and video.
Luckily, there are several types of headsets and Bluetooth devices that can connect to your phone wirelessly. These items can dramatically improve your audio and make the individuals on the opposite end of the call much easier to understand.
Laptop microphones are not used often and aren’t typically the selling point of these devices. It’s also much harder to talk directly into a laptop mic.
The ports of a laptop, however, offer numerous options for headsets, which make your voice more crisp and audible while blocking out those aforementioned outside distractions such as lawn mowers and kids crying.
Many video calls you make are likely conducted with friends and loved ones, who may be more understanding about less superior sound quality. The calls that require superior audio quality are the professional business calls you conduct, which are meant to convey important information to your boss and colleagues. That crucial information can get garbled if the audio quality is inferior, which isn’t ideal for your career.
Whether you’re a CEO, a business owner, a manager, or an entry-level employee, there are things you can do to enhance the audio for everyone involved during virtual meetings. The below tips will dramatically improve your essential video calls. And while it may not seem like the audio quality during video calls should be your responsibility, the success of this virtual group communication relies heavily on you and your coworkers. In the end, this conscientious behavior helps you, your boss, and your fellow employees.
Business video meetings often involve numerous people, and the background noise of even one or two people who don’t have their microphones muted can drown out the person currently speaking or override certain parts of a person’s sentences, making it difficult for everyone to fully hear what is being communicated. So make sure to mute your mic when you’re not talking! This is also essential to remember if you’re conducting a podcast.
To reiterate: Unless you’re directly called upon to speak during meetings, you should have your microphone muted to avoid any background noise that bleeds into the call. Also, no different from an in-person meeting, wait your turn to talk during video calls. Virtual video meetings should be held in a quiet place as it is, but no one can predict when a baby will begin to cry or a loud car without a muffler will speed past your residence. So it’s best to leave your mic muted, but don’t forget to turn it on when it’s your turn to speak!
Any time wasted during a virtual business meeting can hurt the efficiency and value of the call. Ensuring your responses are heard and understood the first time around is incredibly important, and a quality headset can assist with that extra leap in sound. Headsets are also much easier to manage for muting and listening purposes.
From the owner on down, folks working in any business or enterprise need to communicate with their fellow employees, and they need good audio quality to do so. After all, well-run meetings lead to increased efficiency and better overall productivity. Here are a few things to help toward that goal.
Using a web-based service is far better than having employees call on their personal phones. A web-based service can transmit far more data at once, which is crucial for large company meetings.
Zoom is a well-known virtual-meeting platform that has risen to the top during the pandemic, and for good reason. It’s efficient, economical, and easy to use once you get the hang of it. Additionally, the large bandwidth of Zoom is ideal for connecting with multiple people.
Improving the audio quality on video calls shouldn’t have to mean calling in tech support for assistance. In fact, as technology evolves and increases, and as many of us increasingly work from home, we all need to individually be our own tech support these days to fix issues. It could be as simple as upgrading your environment and making sure you have a decent microphone, which helps prevent your friends and family and colleagues asking you to repeat yourself during virtual meetings and everyday conversations.
As an employee, muting your mic when not speaking and having a headset can really positively streamline everyone else’s virtual meeting experience. (Again, don’t forget to turn off the mute function when it’s your turn to speak!) Businesses will also greatly benefit from investing in a service such as Zoom to improve sound quality and production speed, instead of having employees communicate via their personal devices.