Home Studio Setup: 28 Must-Have Essentials for Virtual Keynote Speaking, Podcasts, Meetings, & More

Last Updated:

March 22, 2024

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I deliver hundreds of keynote presentations every year—many of them virtually from home. While I’m not a huge tech expert (and as a result, have never focused my content on product recommendations or gear reviews), I have spent over two years testing gear so that I look and sound good, wherever I am.

The home office setup that I’ve landed on is the one that I’ll be sharing today!

A photo of Gorick Ng's virtual keynote speaking engagement setup. Showcasing a laptop, a camera, a teleprompter, lighting, a microphone, and more.
Oh: And yes, my photo includes some portable Logitech V20 notebook speakers that I use to blast Hans Zimmer movie soundtracks when I'm working. I didn't call them out in my list below because I actually kept them from high school. Yes, they've lasted that long, so, if you want an old but sturdy set of speakers, here's an option!

If you’re wondering why I (as a self-proclaimed non-techie) am sharing this list, it's because I’ve endured an embarrassing number of hours trialing equipment, only to waste even more hours lining up at my local UPS (or FedEx or USPS) to return the items (often via Amazon Prime)… so, hopefully my lessons learned become saved time and frustration on your end.

To all of the friends who have asked me, “How the heck do you look so good on Zoom right now?”, thanks for inspiring me to make this virtual speaking setup compilation! Hopefully late is better than never 🙂

Without further ado, here’s what I use to deliver my webinars, record podcasts, or produce content from the comfort of my home.

Note: Prices listed are in USD and reflect the most recent update of this post in October 2023 and are subject to change.

To stay connected

Investment: ~$10-$75

1. 150-ft ethernet cord

To ensure a good connection at all times, I use a Cat6 rated network cable by Cable Matters. You can get a 1-ft one for $6.29 all the way up to a 150-ft one for $30.49.

Gorick’s note: If you don’t have the budget to get anything else on this list, consider investing in an ethernet cord that’s long enough to reach from your nearest ethernet jack to your computer so that your internet connection is stable. You probably don’t need 150-ft, but I did… after realizing that the nearest jack was upstairs and that I’d need to extend the cord along the wall and around every doorway and step as it winds down the stairs if I didn’t want to create a tripping hazard or cut open the drywall to extend a line down the stairs (I didn’t).

2. Clips for holding up the ethernet cord against the wall

To avoid accidents and annoyances, I secured my cord with several packs of 40 round cord clips by Command for $33.71. 

Gorick’s note: This is to prevent the tripping hazard for my 150-ft ethernet cord, which I have extended from the middle of the house upstairs, down the staircase, and around a bathroom door. These aren’t the strongest clips out there, but I got these because the tape is removable. You won’t need these clips if you have an ethernet jack that’s close enough to your work space.

3. USB adapter hub

I bought this affordable multiport adaptor hub for $29.99. 

Gorick’s note: If you own a Macbook or laptop that doesn’t have an ethernet jack, you’ll need one of these. This one isn’t perfect, but, at the time, this was the one that offered the most functionality—an ethernet jack, along with jacks for USB 3.0, USB-C, and HDMI.

To sound great

Investment: $65-$120

4. Microphone 

My microphone is the MAONO USB/XLR, priced at $63.99.

Gorick’s note: I’m not fancy enough to use XLR over USB, so I’ve only ever used the USB plug, but it’s nice to know that I have the option if I ever decide to upgrade. Whether you get this model or another one, just make sure you have a windscreen (to minimize any breathing sounds) and a pop filter (to minimize any “popping” sounds when you say any words with a “b” or “p” sound). I do have a second microphone that I use to travel (which I will share in a future post—please subscribe to my email newsletter for updates), but I like this one on my desk because it sits on a nice, heavy base.

5. Room sound insulating blankets

I use 3 of the SB-VG Sound Booth Blankets, priced individually at $71.52.

Gorick’s note: Just because you have a fancy microphone doesn’t mean that you’ll sound good. If you have a hollow space problem, you’ll need sound absorption. If you have a noisy space problem, you’ll need proofing. If you’re like me and don’t (or don’t want) so much stuff, you’ll need to pick up sound blankets. After scouring the internet, I found this company that offers higher quality sound blankets that have little holes (called “grommets”) on along the edges. They are more expensive than simple  blankets, but I’m happy I went with them. I bought three of these blankets and placed one in front of me (behind my camera), one to my left, and one to my right, off camera. If you want to isolate a larger work space, you may need to buy more.

6. Room sound insulating blanket stands

I use 3 of the FlexTee Stands, priced individually at $99.88.

Gorick’s note: If you’re like me and don’t want to drill holes in your walls to hold up the sound blankets (and can’t afford to take up an entire room), you’ll need a way to hold up the blankets. These stands are specially made for the sound blankets, so I had no choice but to buy them unless I wanted to make my own. Just a warning: These stands are really big and heavy, so ignore any marketing promises around “portability.” You can definitely move these if you move (and have a car with a collapsible back seat), but don’t expect to bring these stands on vacation with you.

An image of Gorick Ng's presentation setup for keynote speaking engagements. From the back of the desk, showcasing the camera and laptop.
What it looks like from behind my desk.

To look great

Investment: $0-$600

7. Teleprompter

I use the NEEWER Teleprompter X14 PRO, available for $239.49.

Gorick’s note: After delivering hundreds of online keynotes and workshops while looking not at my audience but down at my own computer screen, I decided that it was finally time to make eye contact. Doing so would require still more equipment, though, since I needed to both stare at the camera lens while somehow also being able to see whatever I was presenting. The solution is a teleprompter, which is a piece of glass that fits over your camera lens and that reflects whatever is displayed on a second screen. I purchased this one because it wasn’t too large or too small.

8. Extra monitor for teleprompter

I use the LILLIPUT 10.1" as a secondary monitor, available for $215.10.

Gorick’s note: A teleprompter doesn’t just work on its own. You also need a second monitor. At first, I wanted to use an iPad to meet my criteria of multi-functionality, but, after realizing that it’s not actually that simple or reliable to duplicate my laptop screen on an iPad, I decided that it was time to buy a second monitor. There was just one problem: Because I’d be looking at the second monitor from a mirror (which flips anything shown around), I needed a second monitor that could not only duplicate my laptop screen, but also reverse the image for the mirror to re-reverse. At the time, this was the only monitor that offered such a feature. I have had issues with the bottom half of this monitor sometimes not working, but, at the time, this was the best solution I could find.

9. Acoustic panels

I use 6 of these Sonic Acoustics 12 Pack Hexagon Acoustic Panels, available for $19.99.

Gorick’s note: Because I have a small room that’s already filled with sound blankets and my camera tripod, not to mention my desk, I was already backed up against a wall. This is not ideal because the farther away you are sitting from the background behind you, the more “depth of field” you have and the more you can play with a cool backdrop—and end up having those cool effects where the background is slightly blurred out behind you. I unfortunately didn’t have this luxury, so I had to make do with a bare wall. My solution? Hexagonal acoustic panels, which add a bit of visual interest. These are called acoustic panels because they also somewhat reduce echoing in your room, though, from the reviews, don’t count on them being as useful as sound blankets. If you have a more interesting background (ideally from more space), though, you won’t need these panels.

10. Command strips for holding up acoustic panels

I use the Command 20 Lb XL Heavyweight Strips, available for $17.05.

Gorick’s note: If you have acoustic panels, you’ll need a way to stick them to the wall—and ideally in a way that doesn’t destroy the wall if you decide to take them down. Since I didn’t want to strip off any paint—and wasn’t confident enough about my location decision—I decided to get removable double-sided tape. I bought these extra heavy-duty ones because I didn’t want to risk any panels falling off midway through a presentation.

11. Softbox

My must-have for great lighting is the Aputure Light Dome II, purchased for $199.00. 

Gorick’s note: I used to use these panel LED lights until I realized that a softbox is better at distributing softer yet brighter light across my face without lighting up what’s behind me. But, if you’re limited on space or budget, LED panel lights are a fine alternative. Or, just move your work desk so that you’re sitting facing a window (which doesn’t cost any money). I have this softbox sitting to the left-front side of me, slightly above my head, angled at a 45-degree angle to my face.

12. Softbox light

For the actual lighting part of great lighting, I use the Amaran 200x Bi-Color LED Video Light, available for $305.00.

Gorick’s note: You’ll need this if you end up using a softbox (which is another con to using a softbox over an LED panel light), but I’ve found that it’s worth it.

13. Light stand

The weighted light stand I use is by Neewer, priced at $89.01.

Gorick’s note: I tried repurposing the light stands I had for my old LED panel lights, but it turns out that the softbox and light are so heavy that you really do need the counterweight that comes with this light stand. I used cans of beans to stuff my weight sack.

14. Camera tripod

I set my camera up on the Manfrotto Befree model, priced at $189.95.

Gorick’s note: I freaked out at the price tag at first—until I realized that many of the cheaper tripods aren’t heavy enough to sustain a lot of weight or get loose over time. And when I learned that all the pros use and trust Manfrotto, I was sold! I like this one in particular because it collapses to the smallest size possible within its price range, allowing me to put it on a table or on the floor. In other words, I prioritized versatility over price on this one. I was willing to pay a bit more in exchange for the peace of mind of not having my camera tip over in the middle of a presentation. I have this tripod standing on the ground, straight in front of me, behind the table I work on.

15. DSLR camera

I film or stream my keynotes with the EOS M50 Mark II Kit, available for $599.00.

Gorick’s note: I’ve liked this camera so far, but wish I had known that it requires more accessories for it to work. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just buying the camera—you also need a video capture card (if you want to connect it to your computer), a wall adapter (if you want stable power and not rely on a single battery), not to mention a tripod. I have this DSLR sitting on my tripod.

16. Camera wall adapter

For continuous battery life, I use the Canon Compact Power Wall Adapter, available for $29.99.

Gorick’s note: This is one of those purchases that I didn’t know I’d need to make—and was frustrated that I had to make. But, the minute I unboxed my DSLR, I knew I’d need it: A DSLR requires a battery—duh! This left me with two options: (a) buy more batteries and switch them out on a regular basis (and regularly, since video recording drains the battery), or (b) plug the camera into the wall. This adapter enables the latter.

17. Camera wall adapter coupler

For continuous battery life, you’ll also need a connector piece like the Canon DC Coupler DR-E12, which I purchased for $29.95.

Gorick’s note: This is another frustrating but necessary purchase. This coupler allows the aforementioned wall adapter to plug into the camera.

18. HDMI cable

For camera to laptop connection, I went for cheap but reliable and found it with the AmazonBasics HDMI Cable 6-ft for $9.50.

Gorick’s note: This is yet another frustrating but necessary purchase. This HDMI cable allows me to plug my camera into my laptop, which is crucial if I want to use the camera as a webcam (rather than record all videos on an SD card on the device itself). Since cables are cheap and so widely available, all I cared about was reliability. I didn’t need to splurge on a brand name.

19. DSLR 4k video capture card

I use the Elgato Cam Link 4K, available for $99.99, which is the final puzzle piece which lets me use my camera as my webcam.

Gorick’s note: Did you guess it? This is another frustrating but necessary purchase—and only something I realized I needed until after I bought the HDMI cable. This device is what actually allows me to use my DSLR camera as a webcam. Simply plugging in the HDMI cable to connect the camera to my laptop wasn’t enough; I needed to plug the HDMI cable into this capture card—and then plug the capture card into my USB adapter that then plugs into my laptop.

20. Cold shoe mount

To hold my DSLR camera to the teleprompter stand, I use the Ulanzi PT-3 Aluminium Camera Hot Shoe Mount, available for $14.95.

Gorick’s note: This dinky but surprisingly expensive object definitely tops my list of things I didn’t even know existed. This is a small but heavy metal piece that screws into the teleprompter stand and then connects to the bottom of the camera on its top. The goal? To secure the camera to the teleprompter, kind of like an intermediate lego piece. You may be able to do without one of these since the camera can technically just screw onto the teleprompter’s sliding platform, but I ended up needing it because my camera sat a bit too low relative to the slanted mirror of the teleprompter, so I needed something to prop the camera up.

Other stuff you probably already have

21. Laptop stand

If you work from home, you need this if you don’t have it already! I use BoYata’s version, available for $27.99.

Gorick’s note: After a ton of shoulder pain arising from hunched shoulders, I decided to get this laptop stand—and it’s been a game changer. This laptop stand also helps prop up my laptop so that my screen is as close to the camera lens behind it as possible (which is helpful for those moments when I need to look at my laptop screen but don’t want it to look like I’m looking too far away). I bought this laptop stand because of all the reviews saying that it’s heavy and sturdy—and I can confirm that it is, in fact, both heavy and sturdy. 

22. Macbook Air M1 2020

My favorite laptop so far has been the 2020 MacBook Air with the M1 chip, priced at $899.00.

Gorick’s note: I used to use a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 because Lenovos were the type of laptop I was used to using in management consulting, but I honestly got tired of the long boot-up time, not to mention the lag despite using a new laptop. My friend DI Lee suggested that I check out the Macbook Air, especially the one with the M1 chip (which was new at the time) and the lack of lags has changed my life. I got the Macbook Air over the Macbook Pro because I wouldn’t be gaming or using any processing-heavy software like Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Premier and am happy with the more portable size and weight. 

23. Apple Magic Trackpad

If you use a laptop stand but love your trackpad, Apple’s wireless trackpad at $114.99 gives the same functionality without the strain.

Gorick’s note: Unfortunately, this is one of those purchases that becomes necessary only because I bought something else that now makes this purchase necessary. In my case, it was the laptop stand. Since the laptop stand props up my entire laptop, the laptop keyboard was suddenly too far and too high up for me to reach it comfortably. This trackpad puts the “mouse” closer within reach.

24. Apple Magic Keyboard

If you’re using a laptop stand and bluetooth trackpad, a separate keyboard like Apple’s wireless keyboard, available for $99.00, completes the set.

Gorick’s note: Similar to the trackpad purchase, I needed this keyboard so that I could reach the keys after my laptop is put on a stand.

25. Apple Watch

Though not a requirement, I love my Apple Watch Series 9, priced at $389.99.

Gorick’s note: Since my Canon DSLR requires that I have the Canon CameraConnect app activated on my phone to prevent the camera from turning off after 30 minutes (unbelievable, I know!), I can unfortunately no longer easily see the time on my phone. You can use any old clock in lieu of the Apple Watch, but I have learned to love my Apple Watch because of the ability to easily dictate messages, set timers, and track my sleep on my wrist. Even if you don’t get an Apple Watch, please, please, please have a clock visible somewhere. Organizers (or meeting participants) hate it when speakers (or meetings) go over time.

26. Power strip tower

The tower charging station I use is the JACKYLED brand, available for $45.99.

Gorick’s note: With so many objects that need to be powered on—but also so many objects that you don’t always need to have on—you need more than a simple power strip: You need a power strip that allows you to turn on only the items you need. I arrange the various power plugs on this tower such that all of the items I always need together are grouped under the same on/off switch (e.g., my fancy lights with my second monitor). I keep my laptop charger on its own on/off switch because sometimes I only need to charge my laptop.

27. Desk lamp

My desk lamp (and bonus lighting) is the Honeywell charging station lamp, available for $39.99.

Gorick’s note: I never thought I needed this because I have a ceiling light in the room I use (though it’s an ugly yellow light, so I always turn it off before I turn on my fancy lights), but I have it to my right on the desk and often have it on if I find that the softbox (which is on my left and at a 45-degree angle to my face) is doing its job too well on the left side.

28. Office chair

Though technically listed as a gaming chair, I use the SMUG home office swivel chair, priced at $85.70.

Gorick’s note: This is another tiny detail that I didn’t realize would become important until I was living it: Unless I wanted my chair to be visible behind me as if I’m a gamer live streaming, I would need to find a chair that was lower than my shoulder but that still offered enough lumbar support to sit comfortably for some time. This was the cheapest but highest rated option I could find at the time.

Well… there you have it! This is my full home studio setup, complete with my own notes (and as you can tell, frustrations about necessary purchases made necessary by other products). All jokes aside, this setup has been working pretty well for me!

Have questions about my gear setup or want to know more about how I do what I do? Join my email list at https://www.gorick.com/career-strategies! Each week, I share a form you can fill out to ask me questions. I read each submission and try my best to answer each one!