Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ditch the cheap headset. You need to sound good on web meetings!

Ditch the cheap headset. You need to sound good on web meetings!

Does your life consist of numerous virtual meetings? Don’t you hate when someone joins the meeting and they are hard to hear or understand because they are either eating their headset, sounding like Darth Vader, or they sound a million miles away. The whole time you struggle to decode what they are saying.

DON’T BE THAT GUY/GAL!

In every meeting, you need to make a good impression. You don’t leave the house to meet your boss in clothes that make you look disheveled, do you? Why would you use a headset that makes you sound disheveled? Ok, sometimes you have to take a call while on the road and you have a bad cell signal, but let’s focus on when you are sitting at your desk. You log on to the WebEx or GoToMeeting. You typically have an option: mic/speakers or telephone. Clicking mic/speaker to leverage the VoIP is so much easier than dialing all the conference call digits, so you hit “mic”. Please don’t tell me you are using the mic in your laptop. For the most part, they all suck! Don’t do it! You don’t believe me? Record yourself. Most computers have a sound recorder under Programs/Accessories. So, use it and record a meeting. You should get permission from other attendees first. Listen to your voice quality. I know it’s painful to hear your own voice, but it’s even more painful to hear it down a tunnel or sounding Darth-like. If you were on the other end of the meeting, would you be impressed?

SOLUTION: It’s time to invest in a good USB Mic. The sound quality will make you sound amazing. When you buy a mic, you want to look for a couple things:

1. USB port is a must. You want plug and play. It’s easy to connect, and typically, there are no drivers to download or funky adapters. The USB mics typically have an onboard preamp and an analog-to-digital (A/D) converter. The preamp makes it unnecessary for the USB mic to be connected to a mixer or external mic preamp. The A/D converter changes the mic’s output from analog (voltage) to digital (data), so it can be plugged directly into a computer and read by recording software. That makes digital recording as easy as plugging in the mic.

2. Get a Cardioid Condenser mic, preferably with an omnidirectional setting. Mics start out as omnidirectional, capturing sounds from all sides equally. But you want to make sure yours has a Cardioid Condenser. This allows the mic to capture mainly what happens in front of it, while rejecting sound from the sides and rear. I like a mic with both setting, so if I have someone else in my office, I can change the setting to Omnidirectional and we both can be heard without moving the mic around.

3. Make sure it comes with a stand (not all of them do). I learned the hard way when I bought my Shure PG27-USB Multi-Purpose Microphone. (Come on, Shure, just increase the price, add the stand, and make life easier for your customers!)

4. The manufacturer should stand behind their mic. I recently had my Blue snowball mic fall over, (okay maybe it was my fault) but they took it back with proof of purchase and replaced it. (Thank you BLUE!)

5. Consider a Pop Filter. Pop filters are a light, nearly transparent mesh placed over a wire or plastic frame, and held in place over a microphone diaphragm with a special clamp. This is useful in reducing “plosives”, or exaggerated P and S noises.

Once you get your new mic, play with it. Record yourself with the new mic. Pay attention to mic placement, temperature and humidity, and work to keep them consistent.
A good mic will also allow you to record training sessions and webinars and sound awesome!
Some mics I have tried at liked. As you can see by the price ranges, you should shop around!
• Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone $50-$100
This is a great deal for the money (usually around $50) on Amazon. Don’t you think it’s worth $50 to sound professional when you’re virtual?
• Shure PG27-USB Multi-Purpose Microphone $200
This has great sound quality, but the PG27 includes a Stand Adapter and Zippered Pouch. NOT THE STAND!
• Audio-Technica AT2020USBPLUS Deluxe USB Cardioid Condenser $250- $150 – Top quality sound
• Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Usually around $150. This has been getting great reviews but I haven’t tried it yet, and I love the name Yeti (Russian Big Foot).

If you can’t wait to get one, try Radio Shack. They carry Blue and Audio-Technica products.

1 Leveraging Videos for Your End User Training

Leveraging Videos for Your End User Training

Are you looking to deploy software to a lot of geographically dispersed users and wondering how you are going to do it? Have you considered using videos?

Videos will save you time and money. Videos will make you highly scalable, because when new people join your organization, you don’t have to train them. They can watch your video, saving you hours of time! I coach clients to leverage videos, so here are some tips to make you successful.

1. Outline your video and script out the various sections.
2. Give your session live via webinar or in person two or three times. This will allow people to ask questions, which you will want to incorporate into the video.
3. Invest in an easy to use editing software like Camtasia Studio. Make sure the software will allow you to index your video so people can jump to the sections they need.
4. Make it personal by recording the introduction of you or someone on your team with an iPhone. Camtasia allows you to drag and drop videos from your iPhone 5 into your project. If you are going to use an iPhone to record, I recommend you invest in a lavaliere microphone and an iPhone adapter. You also might want to use an LED light, teleprompter and tripod. You can get a teleprompter app for you iPad on iTunes.
5. When you record your PowerPoint deck and actual software demonstration, you will want to make sure you are in a place with limited background noise and get yourself a good desk microphone. I use a Snowball.
6. When you record, make sure you are silent during slide transitions. This will make editing a lot easier.
7. When you screw up (and you will), leave a long silence and start that section over. That way, you can find the screw up easily during editing. It’s also easier to edit if you leave silent pauses periodically.
8. Make sure when you edit the video, that you click Audio and enable volume leveling and enable noise removal, for a clear consistent sound.

HERE’S WHAT I USE:

1. Camtasia Studio ($300) More than a simple screen recorder, Camtasia Studio helps you create professional videos easily. Use Camtasia Studio to record on-screen activity, customize and edit content, add interactive elements or import media, and share your videos with anyone, on nearly any device. http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html

2. Blue Microphones Snowball USB Microphone ($65) This is a USB microphone that gives you great sound when recording with a laptop. I even use it for VOIP calls. http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Microphones-Snowball-Microphone-
Aluminum/dp/B002OO333Q/ref=sr_1_4?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1402256208&sr=1-4

3. Audio-Technica Pro 70 Cardioid Lavalier Microphone by Audio-Technica ($120) This lapel microphone gives you good sound quality for shooting videos with your iPhone. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0006UGE54/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

4. iPhone MIC Adapter: XLR Jack to iPhone, iPad2, iPod Touch and Other Compatible Devices ($30) If you are going to record with an iPhone, I strongly recommend using a lapel microphone. You will need an adapter to plug the microphone into the iPhone jack. The adapter is for XLR microphones to be plugged In to the iPhone for professional recording, with a 3.5mm mini jack for headphones. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004Z97CQW/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

5. Bower VLSMLED The iSpotlite Smartphone LED Light ($25) Brighten your shots with this powerful LED light that gives you crisp and vivid videos. Its iPhone 4/4S/5/5S snap-on adaptor fits on top or on its side and its standard headphone jack adaptor allows secure mounting to any smartphone on the market.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DO79NA4/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

6. Teleprompt+ for iPad ($15) This is a great little App that allow your iPad to be your teleprompter by Bombing Brain Interactive. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/teleprompt+-3/id859980419?mt=8

7. Targus 7″ Tripod with Smartphone Mount ($13) Tripod- You might want a full size and a desktop tripod. But you will need the smartphone mount to hold your phone. I went through a couple iPhone holders that connect to a tripod and still haven’t found a great one. But so far, my favorite one is a Targus 7″ Tripod with smartphone mount that I picked up at Radio Shack. If you buy this model, you can remove the smartphone mount and put it on your full size tripod.
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=27259226

I hope this information helps you look like a rock star. Time to get Heatherized!

© 2104 Lodestar Business Institute