Ready to Become a Zoom Master?
Many of us have jumped into the Zoom world out of necessity, with many aspects of daily life now handled via video chat — club and business meetings, family dinners, play dates, pub nights, and even holidays!
Thanks to my work with Toastmasters, which has clubs throughout the world, I’ve had the opportunity to work with online meeting platforms for 10 years. What I’ve noticed is that many of us are comfortable with in-person meetings, but not quite so comfortable handling the challenges of remote communication. After all, the cues that we usually pick up on in person — such as the way a person enters a room or body language — aren’t available on a platform like Zoom.
My approach to online meetings changed when I began to think of them as mini TV broadcasts. I began to feel more confident, more in control, and more able to lead remotely. Here’s how you can get a professional, camera-ready feel from your living room.
Proper lighting is the key to looking happy, healthy, and well-rested (we’re all seeing how suboptimal light can wreak havoc on the appearance of even our most put-together colleagues). Adjust the light so it shines toward your face so your coworkers can see your expressions properly. Think about where shadows fall: If they appear on the left side of your face, place a light on the left for illumination.
Wear a color that contrasts with your background so you pop on screen. Solid colors are your friends here — patterns will compete against your background.
Place the camera at eye level or so you’re looking slightly up. Many of us position our cameras down, which can distort your face and background (and has the potential to look deeply unflattering).
If you are using a cell phone, position it to landscape rather than portrait to expand your picture.
Look into the lens rather than the screen when you’re talking. I actually attach a photo of people at the top of my screen to remind me of where to look.
Zoom has two display options: Gallery view, which will also display your fellow participants on your screen, and speaker view, which enlarges the current speaker while displaying others on a side panel. You can control this view through the icon in the top right-hand corner.
Use the pinning feature (or spotlight feature), also found in the top right-hand corner, to select a person to remain on your screen at all times. This is useful if you are in a chat with a moderator, chairperson, host, or timer.
Voice quality is important, so always be sure to join the call early and ask about the quality of your audio. If it’s lacking, use a headset.
If your Zoom call has fewer than 20 people, it’s not necessary to keep the line muted unless there are background noises such as a dishwasher, printer, TV, or some other distraction. You can mute yourself by clicking the icon in the bottom left of your portrait. If you’re the host, you have the ability to mute any individual.
Choose your setting carefully. A cluttered environment will detract from what you are saying.
If you’re giving a presentation, try to adjust your setup so you can give it while standing. You’ll have better airflow to your lungs and voice and project a more commanding presence.
Incorporate slides when delivering fact-based updates, webinars, and trainings. However, if you’re giving a straightforward presentation, save the slides for an in-person update.
Remember that people can see you even when you’re not speaking! Practice good posture, avoid leaning on your hands (it will make you look bored or tired), and avoid fiddling with items around you.
You wouldn’t pop in and out of an actual meeting, and a Zoom meeting is no different. Stay present and actively engaged. You can switch off Zoom during an intermission or break, but be prompt with your return.
Keep chats to a minimum unless requested to add in the feed. It’s the online equivalent of a side conversation while a colleague is speaking.