At TrueNorth we are well versed in working remotely, and indeed we are ‘digital by default’. With more and more of us using online video and screen sharing, we thought we’d share a few of the key tips we’ve learnt over the years.

Visuals

Lighting is by far the most important factor is getting a decent webcam image. Even a standard laptop webcam can produce a decent image with good lighting.

Set up your workspace so that the available light is behind the camera: sit facing a window rather than in front of a window, or close the blinds and set up a light behind the camera. This is the easiest and cheapest change and makes a huge difference.

Upgrading from a laptop’s built-in camera to an external webcam is the next step, and again makes a big difference, although not as much as lighting; a poor quality camera with good lighting will have a better picture than a better camera in poor light!

Sound

Laptop microphones are generally of poor quality, and investing in an external microphone is well worth it. A headset works really well and can be bought cheaply, and even a standard mobile phone headset can be a big improvement.

A good quality noise cancelling headset can even make working in a noisy environment feasible (kitchen table with kids about anyone?!).

Screen sharing

When presenting via screen share, be aware of what you are displaying. It can be safer to share a single application than a whole desktop or monitor, but it then becomes awkward to switch apps or show multiple apps side-by-side.

If you are sharing a desktop, consider what else is showing and whether or not you’re happy for your audience to see it as well. Desktop backgrounds, icons, toolbars, notifications and browser tabs can be a distraction to the audience. All of these can be changed or hidden.

Also consider the resolution of your screen. For a business or technical audience, we recommend 1080 HD.

We’ve found that the ideal solution is to have a second monitor dedicated to screen sharing. It can be configured to the ideal resolution, with only the appropriate applications displayed and toolbars, icons, alerts and so on hidden.

The full works

Working-from-home-set-up

The image above shows Gareth’s home office set up, probably more suited to Twitch streaming than Teams meetings, but you can never have too much kit!

  • Main 34 inch ultra-wide screen
  • Sony A6000 mirrorless camera connected via an Elgato Cam Link 4k
  • Blue Yeti X USB microphone
  • Elgato Key Light
  • Secondary 22 inch HD monitor dedicated for screen sharing.

More reading

  • Scott Hansellman is one of our favourite Microsoft bloggers / you tubers / tweeters, and always has great tips.
  • This article and video on creating the ultimate home worker set up goes into a lot more detail and was the inspiration for Gareth’s set up.
  • This article delves deeper into what to consider when screen sharing.

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