For many business owners, the sudden shift to video conference calls during lockdown has been a game changer. Now that we can’t jump on the tube to attend a face-to-face or book out a conference room for a multi-member meeting – online meetings have transformed the way we conduct business.
And with social distancing looking to be a mainstay of future months, these online meetings will continue to grow in use and popularity for the foreseeable.
Zoom has been the most popular site/app so far, and it’s estimated that Zoom users have rocketed from 10 million per day to 200 million. The surge in Zoom calls has not only been business related. The site has fast become the ideal way to host weekly pub quizzes, family get togethers and much more.
With the rise of popularity comes the rise of scaremongering. We’ve already seen people hurriedly deleting the Houseparty app after it was claimed users’ phones could be hacked. Then came the threat of ‘Zoom bombing’ – where people worried that strangers would hack into calls and bare a lot more than a messy house.
Our lockdown vocabulary has suddenly grown to include terms such as ‘zumping’ (where one partner dumps another over a Zoom chat) and, the more popular, ‘Zoom fatigue’ – a feeling of tiredness, irritation or anxiety at the thought of yet another Zoom call.
As a professional videographer and photographer, my personal favourite is ‘Zoom fail’. Because there are just so damn many! This basically applies to those calls where, for one reason or another you get frustrated with someone else on the call for their lack of forethought and preparation.
Maybe it’s because you can’t see or hear them properly. Maybe it’s because they are eating their lunch on camera. Or maybe they are conducting said video call on a mobile, whilst holding it in their not very steady hand, and you’re beginning to suffer from motion sickness.
As much as we are all experiencing a more relaxed pace right now, we really do need to ensure we are keeping up appearances on a professional level, so here are a few tips to help ensure you’re not THAT person on the Zoom call:
Dress The Part
- It’s not only important to show others that you are professional, but it also helps to keep you in the right mindset
- You can’t feel 100% confident if you are not comfortable with your appearance
- Stick to your personal norms. Wear whatever you would if you were going to the same meeting in real life. If you would normally spend 5 minutes getting ready, then do that. If it’s 45 minutes, then do that – don’t fall into a habit of not bothering
Give Yourself Time to Prepare
- It’s not a great look, when you keep hopping off a call to ‘just get my notebook’ or to ‘quickly pop to the loo’. Start preparing 10 minutes before your meeting
- Make sure you’ve eaten something beforehand, and have a drink next to you. Zooming is thirsty work!
- Have your charger within reach. While it’s a great excuse for a break if you’re bored, running out of power mid-meeting isn’t very professional
Keep it Light & Bright
- Light light and more light! Oh, and did I mention light?
- Without light, people won’t be able to see your face. You will be the shadow lurking in a Zoom square, being kind of visible, but kind of not
- Sit facing a window, so all the light floods onto you. Don’t sit with your back to a window, unless you are trying to achieve an arty silhouette look
- If your desk isn’t in a bright spot, it may be worth moving it. Or, invest in a daylight LED lamp. You will be doing lots more video calls over the coming weeks and months so it’s a necessary business expense
Fill The Frame
- Now you’ve set up a space with great lighting, the next thing you need to do is to ensure that you’re sitting in the right place
- Fill that frame! Don’t be afraid to get close to the lens. Try to have your chest to the top of your head in the frame. If you are too far away people won’t feel as much of a connection with you
- Get in the centre of the frame. Don’t leave too much space on one side, or above the top of your head
- Make sure that your lens is as close to eye level as you can get it. You can achieve this by placing your laptop on a stack of books (I use The Guinness Book of World Records 2017 – 2020)
- If you are using a virtual background, invest in a green screen. It will stop your bodyparts disappearing throughout the call. If you can’t buy a green screen, try to have your background as plain as possible
- Dodgy broadband connections aren’t a great look when you are on a video meeting. Kick the kids off their devices and secretly disconnect your partners wifi. Alternatively, plug into the broadband with a good old fashioned cable
- To make sure you look your best, go to your video settings and double check that the ‘Enable HD’ box is checked. This will only work if your webcam has HD capability
- If you are recording your Zoom and are planning on editing it, go to your recording preferences and tick ‘3rd party editing’. This ensures it will work on all editing software
And voila! You’re now Zoom ready (or Microsoft Teams ready, there are plenty of other video conference apps/sites that these tips apply to).