Tech treats for virtual presenters

Leading broadcaster and financial commentator Susannah Streeter who has anchored flagship business news programmes on TV and radio and hosted major summits, conferences and events, around the world, provides us with a list of Christmas stocking fillers for any would-be virtual presenters!

Susannah Streeter, TV presenter, keynote speaker, event moderator, event host and MC
Susannah Streeter, TV presenter, keynote speaker, event moderator, event host and MC

It’s always nice to be asked what one wants for Christmas, though a surprise can be even better. After nine months of Zooming, Teaming, Skyping and Facetiming, I’ve got to grips with enough gadgets and accessories to fill a dozen stockings.

All those devices snapped up during Lockdown 1 to equip the home radio and TV studio, might make ideal gifts for the man or woman who thought they had everything, until Covid-19 came along and tipped our worlds upside down.

So, if you’re still looking for gifts or just want to put a better face forward in business meetings, conferences or even streams in 2021, here is just some of the kit which will make your life so much easier:

1 – iRig Video Creator Bundle

This all-in-one option to create a home set-up fit for broadcast TV, mounts the best video camera most people already have; the one in their phone. The tripod has a handy phone or camera grip which attaches to an LED ring light, to banish dark shadows and brighten up the shot at the flick of a switch. The bundle comes with a lavalier (lapel) microphone which plugs directly into a phone or tablet’s headphone jack. The bundle is lightweight and easy to break down to fit in an overnight bag, which is very handy for those last-minute live broadcasts from a hotel room.

2 – High-quality webcam

While smartphone cameras are generally excellent, software or presentation demands sometimes make the laptop a better solution. Built-in webcams are rarely up-to-scratch and positioning one for a good shot is almost impossible, so a standalone webcam is a must. Market-leading options have been hard to source since March, and prices have shot up, but I recently got a back-up built by a company I’d never heard of. The Ausdom AF640 doesn’t quite match my trusty Logitech for image quality, but it’s a capable, reasonable and available alternative.

3 – Invisible headphones

I’ve been so used to having a custom-formed earpiece for talkback when broadcasting that I would sometimes forget I was even wearing it. Not for home broadcasting though. Standard headphones, whether wired or not, just aren’t up to the job. Earpods fall out, Airpod batteries can run out, and they’ve all been designed to be highly visible . A client sent me some virtually transparent headphones, from MEE Audio, that are actually designed for sports use. They’re comfortable, invisible and never fall out.

4 – A handy mirror

We’ve all seen them, if we haven’t been them. Those colleagues or conference guests surreptitiously checking themselves out on-screen, adjusting their hair, removing a stray eyelash, or giving a blemish a quick rub. Or, perhaps worse, those who don’t, while everyone else is trying to work out if there is something on their lens or a rice krispie on their nose. Having a small handheld or tabletop mirror within reach, will allow you to check yourself out, just before going live, so you can present undistracted and with confidence.

5 – Screen wipes

We’re all so used to sanitising our hands these days, but spare a thought for your screens. A smeared lens is never a great look, so for a cheap and cheerful stocking filler, a pack of screen wipes will keep your kit clean. They’re also handy to have around for when little fingers go straight from the mince pie to the TV screen.

Whatever Father Christmas brings this year, I think we’re all hoping for a return to normal broadcasting. I’ve been in a couple of studios in recent weeks, and we’re definitely starting to creep back, but it’s going to take time, and home broadcasting has made such a leap this year, it’s clearly here to stay, so it’s worth making sure your kit is up to the job.