Need to add more va-va-voom to your Zoom?

Need to add more va-va-voom to your Zoom?

2020 has had one clear winner: Zoom. While Skype and Teams gained momentum at the beginning of the pandemic, they quickly faded into the distance as Zoom became the verb we never knew we needed. We’ve downloaded, joined, adjusted a virtual background and felt uneasy watching the Zoom meeting countdown clock. There’s how long left? Talk faster?

But it’s weird, right? Meeting people for the first time and building relationships on screen. We’re all judging each other, even if we don’t mean to. Subliminally all these new visual and audible cues are there, giving people clues – rightly or wrongly – as to how on the ball, attention to detail, likeable and trustworthy we are.

And the truth is, if people are distracted by something a bit off in how you are presenting yourself, they’ll switch off from what you are presenting.

So how do you put your best face forward and work the room in Zoom? We’ve scoured the internet and picked the brains of friends we know give good Zoom, to create this 5-step check list for you.

  1. Lookin’ good

Before you do anything, go to settings, click Video and check ‘Touch up my appearance’. It’s an instant face-lift; think bright eyes, glowy skin and ten years younger. We’re serious. It works. Then, reposition your camera, it needs to be at your eye level or just above it. Balance a few books under your laptop to get it right.  Lighting is key. Ask any influencers on Instagram, they wouldn’t be seen dead without their front lighting. You can buy ring lights, sit in front of a window or put a lamp behind your screen so you get all the bright light benefits. And don’t forget to smile.

  1. Houston, we have a problem

There’s nothing worse than launching into a presentation and your screen freezes; mouth hanging open, one eye closed, pointing into thin air. You’ve lost your audience and it’s, quite frankly, more than a little embarrassing. So, before any meeting, restart and close all of those tabs you keep open. Give yourself the best possible chance for the meeting to run smoothly.

  1. Be on brand

Everyone is looking behind you. We can’t help ourselves, we’re nosey by nature. We want to peek into your home and see what it’s like. You need to control the view. A blank background is absolutely fine, but would you prefer to appear studious, serious, artistic? What is your brand? Shelves of books might provide a great background landscape – but remember people will be checking out your 50 shades series and wondering if your cabbage soup diet worked. A tasteful picture and a well-kept plant provide an attractive, reassuring backdrop that doesn’t compete with the main event – you! Try your best to keep the area behind you uncluttered – and test look at what is visible beforehand. If you’re working from your bedroom, try not to have the bed in shot.

  1. Shhhhhhhhh we’re listening

The mute button is your friend. You might find it hilarious that the dog barks at the postie, but the rest of the meeting mightn’t get it. The same goes for drinking and eating. Mute, mute, mute. Most computers and laptops have pretty good inbuilt microphones but if you find people straining to listen to you, or are repeatedly asking you to ‘say that again please’ it might be time to invest in a good microphone. Also, turn off all notifications. Try not to interrupt yourself with your phone buzzing and emails pinging as you’re trying to make an important point.

  1. Lights, camera, action

You are live. And so is your audience. As you’re talking, they are facebooking, tweeting, online shopping and texting their mum. You’ve got to keep them in the virtual room. Use the tools you’ve got – keep them focussed with chat comments and surveys. Remember to speak to the camera and not at a window on the screen; and use people’s names – which thankfully pop up on the bottom left of the screen.

One more final thought: show up on time. Just like in real life, be ready five minutes before kick-off. Everyone hates virtual tumbleweed.

That’s it. Go forth and dominate Zoom!