Updated: Oct 25, 2020
After our last blog post was published regarding changes to our services that have been brought on by COVID-19 we have had a few partner organisations contacting us requesting information on how we have managed to adapt our workshops and training to be presented online and more specifically, what equipment we have to allow us to do this.
After many trials, test runs and practice sessions, we settled on the set-up in the picture that follows.
What you see here is:
Desk camera clamp
Any combination of the above would be able to replicate the set up we have, but we spent ages researching, watching unboxing videos and reading reviews to find equipment that would best suit our needs.
Please note: Any links posted herein are not affiliated links, this post does not make us any money. We want to share our experience. The links are intended for reference only, and we are not promoting any of these products to you in any way. If you are going to purchase the same equipment, shop around to find the best deal.
So why did we choose this kit specifically?
We ran into some issues early on with the laptop we were using, which was fairly new, but didn’t have a powerful enough processor to handle Microsoft Teams and everything else we had plugged into it. So, we had to get a new one to fix the problem. Try the laptop you have with this set up first, and if participants complain that it is freezing/laggy/jumpy, then a new laptop might solve this (or it’s a wifi problem). Alternatively, you could use a tower PC and plug two screens into it.
After a few test workshops, I realised that when sharing your screen, you lose the ability to see the other people’s faces that are attending. Our workshops rely on participation, not being able to see participants was an issue for me. Two screens allow you to run the presentation on one screen and view the participants on the other, solving this issue. Any monitor will do for this, make sure your laptop has either an HDMI OUT or a VGA OUT (google this if you don’t know what it is) to plug it in. Notebooks/small laptops generally don’t have this.
The microphone built into laptops is crap, buying an external mic improves your audio quality tenfold. Make sure you buy a USB microphone and not one that plugs into the 3.5mm microphone hole, as most modern laptops don’t come with this anymore.
The microphone we use is: https://bit.ly/2TgJtdb
As above, built-in webcams are usually rubbish. You’ll need an external one. This also allows you to mount it on a tripod/ desk clamp to alter the angle and height of it. I picked a full HD game streaming quality webcam to ensure our video is crystal clear. There was an issue during the first lockdown with sourcing webcams as everyone needed one to work from home. I’m not sure what the market is like at the time of writing this.
The webcam we use is: https://bit.ly/3dJRD76
An alternative would be: https://bit.ly/3jie0lw
Desk Camera Clamp/ Tripod
This allows us to adjust the camera angle, height and distance. It’s much better than clipping it to the top of your screen and allows you to find the best angle.
The clamp we use is: https://amzn.to/3odbaBT
The lighting in the office was distorting our zoom calls, and the natural light isn’t very great. So this was my solution to that. The best thing you can do is try to find some nice natural light and have it directly in front of you. If this isn’t possible, then you might need to consider an alternative lighting source.
The lights we use are: https://amzn.to/3dJ1qdQ
We use an inexpensive computer soundbar to make the audio louder; this allows us to hear everything going on. Any external speakers which plug into the 3.5mm earphone hole will do.
Location, Location, Location
The workshop setup in action.
The next thing you need to think about is where you are going to set all of this new technology up. We managed to find a nice quiet spot in the office, next to the window for ventilation, with our big orange wall in the background for branding.
We fitted a shelf directly behind where the presenter sits which is used to support the weight of our LANDED activity boards, and if we need to use any flipchart, it's blue-tacked to the wall.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this post further, please contact us.