with thanks to PyCon AU https://2020.pycon.org.au/speakers/tips/

<aside> đź’ˇ Reminder - if you need equipment, contact catherine.nelson@pycascades.com with your requirements. We have the budget to buy you what you need for an awesome quality recording.


You can also find practical tips in this video (strongly recommend watching): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPKhhLxfllM

Microphone / audio quality

By far, the best investment is ensuring audio quality is clear and not echo-y. This is more important than video quality. Your laptop microphone won't give good enough results to pass our tech check. A headset with a microphone is a great option, or an external microphone is even better.

In an ideal world; a external USB condenser microphone is your best bet, but you will need to practice with it to ensure you’re getting optimal audio levels, it’s positioned correctly, it doesn’t accidentally pickup your speakers/other sound during your talk, and make sure any gain or volume controls are set so it's loud and clear, without any distortion, even when you're speaking loudly into it. If you’re buying an external microphone, invest the time to learn how to use it - do test recordings, isolate yourself away from background/ambient noise (turn off any fans etc), and play it back and listen.

A condenser microphone has a specific 'direction' (it will sound much quieter/echoey if placed incorrectly), and it needs to be close to your mouth.

Many podcasting guides are very useful to read, for example: https://www.buzzsprout.com/blog/mic-technique-podcasting

Dropping down from this, using a USB headset with a microphone is the next best thing (and super easy / doesn't have to be learnt).

We are happy to talk you through getting the most out of your mic during your Tech Check.

Cameras & lighting

Some laptop webcams work pretty well (i.e. those in a MacBook); others aren’t so good. An external USB webcam such as a Logitech C920 is a relatively affordable way to add high quality video.

That said, before you do that, make sure you’re in a well lit position - it’s surprising how much difference this makes to quality. Lighting should be in front of you (facing back towards you), with no visible lights behind you.

An easy/cheap way to ensure you’re well lit is to sit facing a window: but keep in mind the time of day when you test, compared to the time of day when you are presenting.

Camera positioning

Make sure you are filling the frame - you don’t want your head at the bottom of the shot with lots of empty space!

If you can (especially if you have an external webcam and microphone), present standing up rather than sitting down. This may sound silly, but it will help considerably with your presence. If you do this, ensure your webcam is level or facing down at you, though, rather than pointing up (a stand may help).

If you’re feeling particularly creative, you could even consider a more professional setup with a dedicated HDMI camera and tripod, wireless lapel microphone, lighting and backdrop, but a decent external webcam and external microphone can get you most of the way there.