[Part 2 of 3] Level up your home office set up for online meetings and facilitation

In the first session, I covered off the layout and spatial design of my office at home.In this session, I will get into a more detailed look at the items that I use on a day to day whilst working as a facilitator and trainer.

October 2021
In the first session, I covered off the layout and spatial design of my office at home.In this session, I will get into a more detailed look at the items that I use on a day to day whilst working as a facilitator and trainer.

In the first session, I covered off the layout and spatial design of my office at home.

In this session, I will get into a more detailed look at the items that I use on a day to day whilst working as a facilitator and trainer.

It is worth calling out that all of these items were purchased over a period of maybe 10-years and not purchased in one big shopping spree. Why is this important? Well, I wouldn’t want people to think that you need all of these items in order to succeed. The one thing that I have noticed though that whenever I went ‘cheap’ on the items outlined below, I ended up replacing them with the original item that I probably felt was ‘a little bit more expensive’. 

LG 27” 5K

Link: https://www.apple.com/ie/shop/product/HMUB2B/A/lg-ultrafine-5k-display

A large monitor really helps when presenting, as you can have your slides going in tandem with any whiteboard sessions. I use my Macbook Pro as a second screen for my upcoming slides. 

Do you need the LG 5K Ultrafine? Absolutely not. But I bought this monitor 3 years ago and it has worked perfectly every single time, and is extremely reliable. It charges and runs from my Macbook with one USB-C cable. It is extremely versatile and adaptable with many ports in the back. The webcam on this monitor is ‘decent’ and have had to use it as a fall back a few times over the years!

After a few years of deliberation, I recently installed a monitor arm to this monitor so I can move the monitor much more freely. It has been such a simple revelation! I purchased an Amazon Basics arm that was great value for money and means I can bring the monitor much closer to my eyes later in the day (I must be getting old…)

iLoud Micro Speakers

Link: https://www.thomann.de/ie/ik_multimedia_iloud_micro_monitor.htm?glp=1&gclid=CjwKCAiAjeSABhAPEiwAqfxURQGn48L7ZDKNkr0-N-uN89Xy6-6K57dAHkh3IAxMFIjZlgOuhf28zxoC6hsQAvD_BwE

I have had many many speakers over the years but these speakers are far and away the best. I used to edit many of the podcast for This is HCD, and would use my professional editing headphones. I interviewed Rafa Sardina the 15-time Grammy award winning producer last year, and he explained about the importance of ‘moving some air’ whilst working on edits and his go-to travelling speakers are the iLoud Micro Speakers.

Do not be fooled into thinking these little speakers are not powerful. These pack a serious punch, and take up hardly any space. I use these speakers for everything, from audio and video editing through to listening to music. They are really affordable (€255) and sit neatly on my desk. 

Sony ZV-1

Link: https://www.sony.ie/electronics/cyber-shot-compact-cameras/zv-1

Link: https://www.thomann.de/ie/elgato_cam_link_4k_hdmi_camera_conn.htm

The camera is one of the big ones that many people deliberate over, and I was no different. I had a Logitech Brio 4K up until recently, and also a Canon M50 with lots of digital lenses. The Canon M50 was a fantastic camera, and the ability to interchange lenses proved to be fantastic, but I was unable to get the clean HDMI out of it that is required to use it as a streaming device. I purchase all the items required to do so, such as dummy batteries, and every type of software update that claimed to do what I wanted it to do but gave up after a few months. You do not want a camera that might risk running out of power or stopping to work with any future updates. So I sold it using mpb.com (a nice way to sell gear online).

I looked at many camera options, and the Sony ZV-1 is hands down the best value for money out there at the moment. It’s small, compact and runs on a USB power. I run this camera into an Elgato cam link 4k and that connects into my monitor. It has absolutely incredible face tracking capabilities, and is my go to camera for everything from online training to live streaming to short videos. 

I recently bought the Ulanzi Wide angled lens for this camera, and allows me to shoot macro, which is a nice addition.

Rode VideoPro + Other mics

Link: https://www.thomann.de/ie/rode_videomic_pro.htm

This mic is really adaptable and suitable for recording out and about with the camera. I have this mic attached to a singing microphone stand that over extends above my head and out of sight. High-quality audio is one of the most important decisions, and this is a fantastic option. The VideoPro+ runs on a rechargeable battery and goes directly into the camera. I generally need to charge the microphone once a month and as it is connected directly to the camera, it automatically turns off. 

I also have a few other options for audio, such as the reliable Blue Yeti and a Shure SM7B that I primarily use for voice over work or podcasting. The Shure SM7B is another option to use whilst training, but in order to get that wonderful audio from it, will need to be close to your mouth. As a result, it will be in the shot all the time, and can really become distracting for people. The SM7B also requires a pretty decent ‘arm’ to hold it in place as it is a weighty microphone, so unless you want to look like a radio DJ, the overhead option or Blue Yeti is a better option.

It’s worth also adding that if you want to use the Shure SM7B you will need an i/o to provide phantom power to it. Again, the wonderful Rafa Sardina helped and explained that the microphone is where you should spend your money and not on the i/o. As a result, I have the Focusrite Scarlett with 1-input and was around €110 from Thomann.de

Elgato keylight

Link: https://www.thomann.de/ie/elgato_key_light.htm

I have bought new lights, at least four times over the last 3 years. The first time that I bought lights, I was fooled into thinking that cheap would work for me, but over time their either broke or I outgrew them. The very best light that I have bought is the one that I have now, and deeply regret not buying it from the start, and this is Elgato Keylight. It’s fantastic and has so much flexibility built into it. 

I loved it so much that I bought one for my wife! They look great and you can extend it’s usage by purchasing extension arms for it to hold you camera and have one tower on your desk. Due to the pandemic many of the Elgato products have been out of stock for long periods of time. My advice? Hang on. Wait for them. They are worth it.

Stream Deck

Link: https://www.thomann.de/ie/elgato_stream_deck.htm

Marc Stickdorn showed me this device last year, and I never really thought I needed it. Until I bought one. Now I use it a few hundred times a day.

What does it do? Well, when you’re running sessions as a solo practitioner, and you are on full screen, you may need to be able to quickly access elements of Zoom like “Mute All” or “Mute Me” etc. This allows you to customise interactions in a digital touch pad. I use it for streaming Spotify and controlling the volume in other apps when in Zoom sessions and it works like a charm.

I also have quick access pieces to documents that I am referring to constantly like sales reports, or satisfaction surveys from customers etc so have them all set up. It may seem like overkill, but when you have repetitive tasks, this is a really nice little device to help streamline those pieces.