How to Improve Your Video Conferencing and Show up Better on Zoom

As I’m writing this, the U.S. has found itself in a new normal. Many people are working from home while managing the kids, who will be home with them for weeks to come.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I can help.

I don’t have kids so I can’t help you with that…

BUT I have been working from home for over 10 years so I can speak to that!

I use video conferencing a LOT. Zoom has made it possible for me to have face-to-face conversations with my clients without ever leaving my house and I think that is glorious!

So… If you are finding yourself doing way more video conferencing than you are used to, here are some ideas that will help you uplevel your game and show up more effectively:

  • Get your laptop off of your lap. Here are just some of the reasons why: When your computer is on your lap, it moves when you do and it can be very distracting to your audience; The microphone can be blocked very easily by your hands  while they are stablizig the computer; You’ll be looking down at the camera and only Scarlett Johansson good from that angle!
  • Turn up the light. Unless you’ve got a ton of bright, natural sunlight streaming into the room, turn the lights up. Video cameras can only create a high resolution image of you when they have enough light to work with.
  • Position the camera so that your entire face can be seen. The #1 benefit of video conferencing is that it’s as close to face-to-face communication as we can get without actually being face-to-face. This is powerful! More than 80% of communication is nonverbal; getting on video with clients and coworkers will enable you to communicate nonverbally, which will help you create a sense of connection and convey your message more clearly than you ever would over the phone.  But to get that feeling of being face-to-face, they have to be able to see your face!
  • Invest in a webcam. (Skip this one for now! Either they are out of stock, or they are price-gouging… probably both.) A low-cost webcam like the Logitech HD Pro C920, or its big brother, the Logitech Brio, will generate a higher quality image than the one on your laptop. Bonus: You can put it wherever you want so you have better control of the angle. Perch it on top of your laptop screen, or get a small tripod and sit it on the desk, and you’re good to go!
  • When you talk, look at the lens of the camera rather than the screen. This is not easy! We are trained to look people in the face as we talk and listen, but when you’re on video that doesn’t work. Eye contact happens when they’re looking at the screen and you are looking at your lens! This is a tough habit to create… But when you’re trying to drive a point home, the sense of eye contact that you create by looking at your lens can be very powerful! Try putting a post-it by the lens to remind you to look there. (This only matters when you talk. When you’re listening, go ahead and look at your screen.)
  • The mute button is your friend. Especially if there are a lot of people on the video call, turning your mute on means that everyone won’t hear you typing, rustling paper, coughing, slurping your coffee, muttering to yourself, or moving around. (If you are phoning in rather than on video, this doubly applies to you!)
  • Turn your video off if you start moving around. This especially applies if you are using Zoom on your phone or tablet. Your moving around, especially if you’re no longer looking at the screen, is extremely distracting to everyone else in the meeting. Turn your video off to get settled, then turn it back on.

Additional tips and tricks for managing the meeting:

  • Create a comfortable atmosphere by inviting people to bring coffee or tea with them… and then ask who is drinking what. It’s a nice way to warm-up the call and it can create a sense of closeness.
  • Be patient if kids come around. It’s the time we’re in. Give the parent room to handle it and use the opportunity to take a breath. It’ll reduce the stress of the situation for everyone and create an environment of support.
  • Need for everyone to relax a bit? Invite everyone to put their pets on video, or put your own on for a quick minute. It’s a great stress reliever and can create a wonderful, warm feeling in the group.

I truly hope you find this list helpful. If you have something to add, please do so in the comments. I would love to add to this list!

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