Lights, camera …audio? How not to spoil a good video with bad sound

In these times of home-bound working, many leaders are using video messages to communicate with their employees. To hit the right note, they carefully craft their message, find a favourable angle, and assemble their bookshelf backdrop. But is anyone thinking about sound?

To hear top tips on how to get the best sound for your home-made video, we spoke to a leading sound engineer, Joost de Glopper, owner of Mixed by Joost audio productions.

“In your video message, you will want to be calm and show leadership. But if your sound is off, there’s noise in the background, or you are difficult to understand, what kind of message does this send? You want the total picture – video and audio – to support what you’re saying,” says Joost.

Without access to professional audio equipment, however, what can home-bound leaders do to get their message across loud and clear?

There are some simple tricks you can apply to improve the sound quality of your recordings:

  1. Find the quietest – not the prettiest – spot in the house. Being next to an open window might offer favourable lighting, yet if you’re close to a busy road, noisy neighbours or school playground, that’s not going to help your sound.
  2. Be aware of ambient noises. Avoid being near appliances, like the fan of your desktop computer, a running dishwasher, or air conditioning.
  3. Avoid rooms with hard and large uninterrupted surfaces like big windows and hard wooden floors. Ideally, look for a space with rugs, carpeting, bookshelves, and angled surfaces that reduce echoing.
  4. Clap your hands. If you hear a lot of reverberation, this is a clear indicator this is not the place you want to be.
  5. If you can’t find an echo-free spot, put a duvet or pillows around you (out of camera shot) to soften the sound. Did you know voice-over artists sometimes record themselves under a duvet?
  6. Consider investing in an external microphone. You can get a decent one without breaking the bank. Just a simple lapel mic that plugs into your phone will easily be 20 times better than any built-in microphone on your smartphone or video camera.

Ultimately, says Joost, the best thing is to listen. “Just take a moment in silence to become aware of the sounds around you. There might be more than you think.” In the age of video messages, it’s time for audio to take centre stage.

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