Let's face it, zoom meetings are here to stay.
For better or for worse, we are all going to have to contend with an increase in video conferencing into the foreseeable future.
In fact, for most of us, they have become an everyday occurrence.
Unfortunately, the technology has its limitations.
All too often our meetings are filled with awkward pauses, distracting backgrounds, and disrupting noises.
While there are plenty of great articles providing tips and tricks for using the software itself, today we will focus on all of the other pieces that need to come together in order to run an effective video call or meeting.
Why You Need To Improve Your Zoom Game
It's 2020. We are all living in the "new normal".
I will leave the predictions to the experts, but what I do know is this:
We all need new skills in order to survive.
That whole "my camera is broken" line you have been using simply will not cut it.
Neither will any delays or distractions when joining others virtually.
At this point, especially since COVID-19, you cannot afford to mess this up.
As the world adapts and continues to move forward, those who have taken the time to learn the skills needed to stand out will be lightyears ahead of everyone else.
Change Your Background
Consider every square inch of your screen is valuable real estate.
When it is your turn to speak, and even when it is not, people will be scanning and examining every corner of your square.
That being said, don't fill it with trinkets, bookshelves, or a view of your entire living room.
All of that is distracting.
No, you don't need to run out and buy a green screen (although if you are interested we do love these).
However, you may want to consider using a virtual background, or simply standing in front of a plain wall.
Whatever you do, keep it simple.
Keep it non-distracting.
Make The Angle Work For You
The worst camera angle is always from below.
Just like when taking a great headshot, ideally, the camera is at eye-level or above and pointed straight at you.
Please, please, please do not point the camera up at you.
You will appear to be all nostrils.
Often referred to as selfie distortion, if your face is too close, or if the camera is looking up at you, your face will appear warped.
If your camera is not high enough, grab a few books to prop up your computer. Trust me, it's worth the trouble.
Quality Sound Is More Important Than Quality Video
If you listen to YouTubers, they will tell you that contrary to popular belief, people tend to value audio over video.
We are way more likely to tolerate poor image quality if the audio is clear and crisp.
The most frustrating part of a video call is not being able to hear what is being said.
Let There Be Light
It's all about lighting.
All too often when on a Zoom meeting I look across the screen only to see a sea of shadowy, dimly lit faces.
There is nothing more unprofessional looking.
At the least, turn your brightness up high, turn the lights on bright or move your computer in front of a window.
If you want to go the extra mile, we
highly recommend investing in a small webcam light.
Also, avoid having bright lights, including windows, behind you.
This will throw off the focus of your camera and can become quite distracting.
Please Stop Looking At The Screen
This tends to be the most common mistake we see over and over.
Stop looking at yourself.
Stop looking at everyone else.
Instead, look directly at your camera.
It will feel uncomfortable at first, but it will be MORE comfortable for everyone else.
Call it digital eye contact.
Leave Yourself On Mute
Does this even need to be stated?
Apparently, it does.
This may seem obvious too most but I am continually shocked by how many people didn't get the memo.
Unwanted background noise is incredibly distracting and downright unprofessional.
It may also direct the camera to your screen, which can often be unwanted.
Log on, say hello, and then place yourself on mute until you are prepared to speak...
...and don't forget to take yourself off mute when you are ready!
Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way
Obviously you will want to use your best judgment on this, but it is worth mentioning.
All too often two (or more) people will try speaking at the same time.
Then, out of respect, they both stop and yield to one another.
You've seen it before. Sometimes and can drag on and create some awkward moments.
The only solution: If you are going to speak- speak. Make your point. Don't be afraid to interrupt (within reason of course).
If you ask a question, be patient.
We all think at a different pace.
This becomes more pronounced over a video call.
If you are asking someone a question, have patience, and give them the time to respond.
Do not feel the need to fill the silence.
Clear, Concise, And LOUD
To the best of your ability, prepare for your meeting, and consolidate your thoughts.
Speak slowly, but loudly.
When you make a point, start with the point.
Resist the tendency to repeat yourself and drag on.
Remember, the most effective way to communicate, generally speaking, is by keeping things simple.
At the end of the day, those who can stand out on something like #Zoom have a serious competitive advantage.
Maybe you are doing one-on-one client calls.
Maybe you are leading weekly team meetings.
Maybe you are moderating panels with lots of attendees.
Maybe you are catching up with friends and family.
Whatever your circumstance, adapting your communication style to this medium is absolutely critical.
#Video-conferencing is here to stay.
It's on us to use it to our advantage.
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