– 4 Things You Must Do In Zoom Now That Amateur Hour Is Over
When work moved from the office to your computer screen in the middle of your living room, there were a lot of things to get comfortable with. One of the biggest changes has been the move of meetings from the physical conference room to the virtual Zoom room. And during that transition period, it was quaint or fun to see people struggle with the technology or react to unexpected ambient intrusion. “Raj, you’re on mute.” “Chloe, we can’t see you because of all the sunlight blazing behind your head.” “Shanda, to share your screen, you need to hit the button at the bottom of the screen, you see the thing next to …” “Brian, how many dogs do you have?”
But by now, your colleagues, manager, clients and others expect that you have mastered the medium, and you’re supposed to be able to deliver a powerful performance while perched in the corner of your living room. There’s less forgiveness for sloppiness, and less patience for it too.
It’s time for you to become the virtual meeting star you know you were born to be—the person every virtual employee aspires to emulate in online gatherings. Here’s what you need to do before your next online meeting to make that happen.
1. Prepare your space
Create a dedicated a place for video meetings where you can always appear in your best light. I call it your virtual home studio; don’t think of it as makeshift zone. Then, it will be easy anytime you have an online meeting to just show up and be your best. Focus on these areas:
Lighting. Choose a place that will work any time of day, where the light is always coming at you directly from in front of your computer. And if the natural light isn’t available or sufficient, consider buying a selfie ring to make yourself shine.
Audio. To come across as clear as a bell and block out any feedback from the other participants (or background barking from your canine co-workers) use a headset or Bluetooth earbuds. These directional mics will keep your voice clear and are designed to block out a lot of the background noise.
Video. Position yourself in the screen using the rule of thirds. Imagine a tic-tac-toe board on screen. Center yourself horizontally in the middle panel and adjust your height so your eyes are on the top horizontal line. Your ceiling should not be visible. If you adjust your seat and computer—retaining the settings—you’ll easily be set for any meeting you have on your calendar or for any that might pop up. You don’t turn your camera on during meetings, you say? It’s essential that you show up on video. That allows people to connect with you on a more human level. When you’re the only one who has the camera turned off, it sends a message about your personal brand: you don’t want one. Invisibility is not a brand trait.
2. Remove distractions
Anticipate any kind of distractions and put things in place to minimize the activities and sounds that could interrupt your flow.
Lock yourself away. Get far away from your pet and make sure you can close and lock your door if possible so you don’t have any unexpected appearances from family members or from Fido.
Minimize external interruption. Put a do not disturb sign on your door so the delivery person doesn’t knock or ring the doorbell in the middle of that important pitch to a new client. Let them know they can leave the packages or give them a time when they can come back.
3. Don’t skimp on tech
Get wired. If your WiFi is unreliable, connect directly to your router. These cables are available in really long lengths, so it doesn’t matter if your internet router is in another room. When you’re cruising on hardwire, you won’t freeze on the screen in the middle of your brilliant contribution to the meeting.
Plug it in. Make sure everything is charged. These days, laptops, earpods and lighting all require power. Plan for overnight recharge of all devices. And make sure you have electrical outlets and USB ports easily accessible in your home studio.
Watch the clock. When you’re presenting or sharing your screen in some video conferencing software, you can’t see your computer’s clock. To stay on time, have a traditional clock available and easy to see (and not the one on your phone: people shouldn’t see you checking your phone during meetings). Place the clock right beyond your laptop so you can keep your pace and not miss the meeting that follows from the one you’re in.
4. Check your appearance
Be professional. You need not put on pumps or don a suit and tie, but take a moment to make sure your appearance won’t distract from your message. Having a mirror easily accessible will ensure you don’t have lettuce in your teeth from your lunchtime salad.
Amateur hour is over. It’s time to up your virtual meeting game. When you put these items in place, you can guarantee a poised performance and make a nice deposit in your personal brand bank.
William Arruda is a founder of CareerBlast and co-creator of BrandBoost – a video-based personal branding talent development experience.