Studio Session #7: Smart tips to improve audio quality

Candice Evans

You’ve spent days compiling the content, building visually stimulating slides and writing your script. But none of that preparation will matter if your audio is unintelligible. Before you deliver your next amazing presentation, it’s well worth investing time testing and, if needed, improving audio quality.

Audio quality is determined by a number of factors, including connection type, bandwidth, device, environment and best practices. So what are the choices and the tradeoffs to consider?

Get connected  

Most conferencing platforms provide you the choice of call-in, call-me and computer audio. Using call-in or call-me audio over a public switched telephone network (PSTN) provides the advantage of being ‘standalone’ from a network perspective. Meaning, whether you’re in the office using the enterprise network, connecting remotely by VPN or using your residential ISP, your audio quality will not be impacted by network fluctuations or congestion. This connection type may provide the most consistent audio quality for the duration of your presentation.

Today, though, your ‘desk phone’ may not run over PSTN. It may use VOIP technology, in which case your ‘telephone’ is actually on the network, competing for bandwidth and subject to fluctuation and congestion. (Wondering what to expect? Try running a few speed tests to determine how variable your results might be.) Similarly, computer audio runs over the network and is subject to the same variables. These options will often provide adequate quality when device and environment are optimized, but the savvy presenter will have a backup plan in case of significant network congestion.

Choose the right device

Using call-in or call-me audio allows you to choose between a landline or cellular phone, mobile device or VOIP/softphone connection. While a landline may provide the most reliability, any choice will be improved with use of a headset. Most will filter out environmental noise and provide a much cleaner sound.

With computer audio, this recommendation becomes even more critical – both for sake of quality and to prevent echo from your computer speakers/built-in microphone.

Environmental considerations

After setting up in a quiet, interruption-free location, test the placement of your microphone. If it isn’t close enough, you might sound too quiet or very far away. If it’s too close, people may hear your breathing as much as your words. Check how you sound with your mic situated in different locations before the meeting begins and make note of what works best for you.

Next, locate the un/mute control in your conferencing platform and the symbol that indicates whether your line is open. An often-overlooked presenter best practice is to mute when not speaking; familiarity with these features will allow you to toggle your line quickly and easily between open and muted.

These simple steps can help ensure your audience hears your message clearly.

Want more quick tips? Check out our Studio Sessions series.

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