If you took my ZoomScore™ quiz, you got a taste for some of the most asked questions about Zoom meetings and the important success factors when using Zoom for business: wardrobe, background, setting, and video on.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to showing up as your best and authentic self whether meeting with an individual or a large group. The rules of Zoom etiquette and best practices can be stretched and adapted to the situation, industry, and available technology. What is not flexible is the importance of safeguarding your reputation online and producing professional and effective engagements.
As we continue to navigate working from home and to rely heavily on video meetings, there is much to learn if we want to make them more productive and more human.
Here are some of the most asked questions about Zoom meetings from my inbox:
1. How do I keep eye contact with the camera and not lose my train of thought?
It is challenging to focus your gaze when there are many people on your screen. As much as we would like to replicate in-person contact, virtual tech limits our interactions to the confines of a rectangle on a screen. Think of the lens as a pair of eyes. Visualize the face of a loved one, your pet, an action hero or cartoon character who makes you smile. Tape an image or illustration to the back of the webcam to keep you focused. Scan the screen to take the “temperature of the room” and get visual feedback from the participants’ body language and facial expressions.
2. What do I do to keep people engaged for more than an hour?
There are many ways to spice up video meetings to make them more engaging and exciting. Start with making meetings shorter. Focus only on what requires group input and discussion and use asynchronous email and chat to accomplish tasks prior to the video meeting. Have a clear agenda and assign roles such as moderator, tech director, Q&A facilitator, waiting room greeter, and breakout room leaders. This way you will achieve more participation and allow the meeting host to focus on moving through the agenda.
3. Is it rude when they do not turn on their videos?
Yes, it is rude. There is a big difference between teleconferences (audio only) and video conferences (video and audio). When you convene a meeting, make it clear that video participation is required. People who regularly do not turn on their videos may not be dressed and groomed, may be in bed or other inappropriate settings for a business call, or may be tremendously shy. Generally, it is poor etiquette not to show your face unless there is a compelling reason otherwise, or you are unable to join by video and opt to connect by phone.
4. What is the proper lighting for my video?
It is important to calibrate your lighting. Place the light source facing you, not behind. Play with soft fill from the sides. Use LEDs instead of fluorescent lights which cast nasty shadows. In daytime, find the best natural light sources, but do not sit with the window at your back, which will give you the appearance of a “shadow creature.” Good lighting can be a matter of trial and error. But if you cannot achieve even illumination on your face without hot spots, you may need to invest in LED panel lights or a ring light with different color modes and dimmer. Ring lights start at about $20. A pair of quality LED lights with stands will cost $100-150.
5. Do I need to have a green screen to use a virtual background?
The virtual background feature on Zoom allows you to display an image as your background during a meeting. This feature requires a green screen to allow Zoom to detect the difference between you and your background. Prices for green screens range for $10 for fabric photo backdrop to $150 for a collapsible model. If you do not have a green screen, try streaming from a location with a solid color wall as background.
Virtual backgrounds require more computer processing power. Make sure your computer meets the system requirements for using virtual background on Zoom. For more information, check this support page from Zoom.
When deciding on a virtual background, do not pick the Golden Gate Bridge or another pre-loaded artwork. Take the time to create a background that speaks to who you are and what you do. Virtual Office provides HD professional backgrounds that incorporate your logo. Or you can create your own using an original image or stock photography.
6. What is the best way to dress for Zoom?
Make sure you are dressed. There are numerous well publicized cases of unintended on-camera nudity that can ruin careers. Learn to identify when your webcam is live (blue light) or better yet, step away if you are not camera ready. Assemble a Zoom wardrobe. Keep in mind that when you are fully dressed for success, your mindset will follow, and you will project that confidence on the screen.
Note that some colors and patterns display poorly on video calls. A lot depends on your lighting and background, but fundamentally, there are some colors that show up better than others. Consider using solid colors that contrast with your background. Wearing green with a green screen may offset the shape definition feature that makes virtual backgrounds work. Red, orange, pink and fuchsia hold their values. Cobalt and powder blue often display as black and grey, respectively.
As virtual meeting platforms evolve, become more competitive, and introduce more advanced features, questions will arise that we may not even anticipate today. So it pays to take the time to understand your equipment and your online platform of choice, whether you use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GotoMeeting, BlueJeans, Google Meet or any other.
Remember that the fundamentals of becoming a confident speaker and presenter in the virtual world will only serve to strengthen your abilities in the physical world. This is a good time to invest in refining your online presence and prepare for the next normal.
How well do you show up on Zoom? Take my ZoomScore™ quiz and see how you rank.
Write me at email@example.com and keep adding to the list of most asked questions about Zoom meetings.
For more articles like this, visit rosemaryravinal.com/blog/video-conferences/