The phrase "I am audible" has replaced the more traditional "May it please the Court" in a virtual court hearing. There could be number of reasons why you could be facing issues such as lag time, poor video and audio quality, which ultimately hampers your advocacy skills or to effectively communicate with a judge.
This article seeks to identify the problems and ways one could improvise without breaking the bank.
The foundation for to have a stable online hearing/meeting starts with having a good and stable broadband connection which allows for a continuous stream of connection without any hiccups, cause I have seen on several occasions a judge has simply lost interest or disengaged due to frequent drop in connection.
There is a lot one can do if you are facing any of the following issues:
- Grainy or poor video quality
- Lag time when screen sharing
- Dropped calls
- Difficulty hearing others
💡Pro Tip: Always have your router plugged on a UPS, so in case of any electricity blackout there wont be any disruptions with your online hearing/meeting.
Scouting for an ideal location...
If like me you are attending virtual court hearings from home, select a room or corner of your home that is not being disrupted by other family members such as a dining table, family room, common room. The idea is to have privacy in return you are not distracted and be able to focus more.
Location & Broadband Speed: Once you have zero down on the location before you set up your base, it is a good idea to run a broadband speed test to check the strength of the signal- if you are using wifi. You can perform a speed check by clicking here. https://www.speedtest.net
If the results are good, then you can move on to the next steps, else repeat the process till you find your place coupled with good broadband speed.
💡Pro Tip: It makes sense to have a separate/dedicated broadband connection for your hearings which allows the rest of the family members to watch Netflix, Youtube, etc without hogging on the bandwidth.
Improving Audio Quality...
After you have set up your home base, to improve sound quality for a judge or other people to hear you loud and audible. I have noted few suggestions for your consideration.
✔️ Wired or Wireless headphone with microphone
It's not advisable not to communicate using the default mic on your computer/laptop, etc, but rather one should choose either wired or wireless headphone with a microphone. Let me expound it, You see a microphone on your laptop tends to pick up other ambient noises along with your sound which makes your sound faint and distant. Any audiophile states a good rule of thumb is to have the mic positioned somewhere between 2 and 12 inches from the face of your mic, which can be easily achieved by a wired or wireless headphone mic.
✔️ External USB microphone
The other slightly expensive option is to purchase an external USB microphone. You can find tons of options on Amazon/ Flipkart. My recommendations would be Blue Yeti, Rode NT-USB, Maono, etc.
I use a Blue Yeti as my external microphone. You could check out my review of Blue Yeti by clicking here.
How to improve video quality...
Once you have the above two pieces firmly placed, the last one is fairly easy to set up. Although, there are various options if one wants to splurge, the whole point of this article is to have reasonable modifications without burning a hole in your pocket.
Typically, the webcam on your laptop or camera on your iPad should be adequate. If you still want to do an upgrade Logitech Brio has been review well, however, it costs around 12K Rupees, which for me is a bit of an overkill. I would rather invest or tweak the sitting arrangement.
How to improve ambient Light...
For starters, make sure that your face should always face the window and not the other way around, otherwise the sunlight from the window will overshadow your face. If you cannot change your setup, then close the windows with drapes.
If you have a table lamp you could angle in such a way that the light is projected at your face but not so much to make your eyes feel uncomfortable.
Make sure you project a clean background meaning thereby to clear any files, books, clothes, underwear, etc. If your back is towards the wall then make sure it does not have any posters of film celebrities or allegiance of any secret society, etc. Because you want to project a professional image and respect the dignity of the court.
Before you log on-check for software upgrades...
I cannot stress this enough, before losing for any virtual hearing or meeting to verify if you have the updated version of the software such as Zoom Meeting, Cisco Webex, Vidhyo, etc, because it has happened to me a couple of times for want of latest upgrade the software did not allow me to share my screen.
As more and more people are using the online platform to conduct their business, software Companies at the same time are fixing Security issues, removing a bug so people can have a seamless experience.
Further, make it a habit whilst sending an invite for a meeting to your colleagues to upgrade their software as well.
I certainly hope the above-mentioned tips would help you to find your sweet spot which will provide an impetus to your advocacy till the time you are arguing before a court in a virtual setting.