The online conference. We've all been on these. Someone can't figure out how to connect. Or someone's headset / phone is cutting out. Or people talk over each other. Or saying their name when every time they speak (it shows up letting everyone know who it is). Really I mean like this ...

More likely than not, it's been some variety of the one above. On average, all of these things happen on every call and I have no idea why, it all seems so simple. One day, after talking to a prospective client this email hit my inbox.

"Find out what headset Jesse is using. His audio has been fantastic and I want to know all his secrets..."

Well, here's my list of secrets... :spoiler, it is nothing magical:

It all starts with the right headset

First, my headset is my big secret weapon. Yes, it's wired. It always works. When I flip up the mic, it mutes. There's a button on the side that also mutes it. When the mic isn't muted, there's no red light. It's easy to tell when I'm muted, when I'm not. This solves MOST of the problems, and they never come back. No feedback either! The first one I bought lasted me 8 years until its untimely demise falling to a concrete floor. So I bought another one. "But its a gaming headset!" -- YES! yes it is. The audio is great, the mic is flexible and effective, the headset is all day comfortable, lasts a long time, and it looks like I'm serious when I have it on. That last one is the most important.

"But what about wireless, I don't want to be attached!" -- I will not use a wireless one if I can avoid it. So many times the crackle of "I walked too far" or "my battery is dying" caused me to only use a wired set. There's some good ones out there, but I'm not a fan for doing a conference / teaching... when it really matters. Wire all the things (if possible) and turn off wifi On the same line of thinking as the headset, I'm always hardwired in. Never on wifi, ever. Yes I know the bandwidth is mo bettah now, but I still insist on wired and gigabit if possible. Too many times I had accidently left wifi on and everyone's voice goes sideways. Or someone at the office decides to download their entire music library and just happens to connect at the slowest speed the wifi allows forcing me to be on that speed... hurray for me.

Always use VOIP / Voice chat, not a phone.

This one confuses me to this day. Voice chat which is built into nearly everything now in some way or another. It's higher bandwidth, higher resolution -- all the things I want. I use it, abuse it, every chance I get -- which at this point is always. Even Slack has it now !

If I present, I close everything I do not need

I don't understand this either, but close everything. All of it. Chat, email, travel plans ...all of it. Nothing is more painful to me or the people I'm presenting to than "wait... hold on its here somewhere" and they watch me bounce around in a mild panic trying to find something. Don't be that guy. Most conference clients display the name or highlight the person talking Imagine for a minute that every time I'm standing in a group of people, say at a conference, and I have my tag that has my name on it for everyone to see ...and every time I talk, I begin with "This is Jesse". Just.... don't. Most conference software (if not all, I can't find one that doesn't suck that bad) will either highlight me or display my name when I'm talking.

In closing, I want to make online conferences suck a little less and with some of the points above, maybe you can too!