Zooming isn’t going away; in fact, it will become a lasting reality of the workplace.
This news comes from experts in human resources, finance, and economics who forecast that up to 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will remain hybrid or remote in the coming years, with video conferencing technology as a centerpiece.
While remote work and video meetings have clear-cut advantages, they also make employees who are connecting virtually less visible to the higher-ups. And for those workers who still refuse to show up professionally on video, the risk of being passed over for a promotion is real. Since 2020 when I created the ZoomScore™, I’ve been preaching that how you look, sound, and behave on video conferences can make or break your career, your business, and your reputation.
The experts agree that working remotely can weaken an employee’s bonds with people who can influence their careers. They recommend that remote workers remain front-of-mind, visible, and engaged at every opportunity online.
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to fade, you may be tempted to lower your standards when you join a video call. Don’t be too quick to retire your green screen, ring light, or podcast microphone. You’ll need them well into 2023 and beyond. Showing up as your best professional self on Zoom continues to be a business necessity to stay competitive, ace an interview, and win a promotion.
Just when you thought that it no longer matters how you and your background look on camera, Room Rater, the satirical Twitter account that critiques the virtual décor and appearance of political figures and journalists, has published a style guide. How to Zoom Your Room: Room Rater’s Ultimate Style Guide offers a breadth of great advice on bookshelves, furnishings, plants and flowers, window treatments, lamps, fireplaces, kids, pets, wall art, clutter, and other aspects of a great Zoom room. Authors Claude Taylor and Jessie Bahrey seek to “bring a bit of joy to all of your rooms.” I am so glad they continue to promote awareness of the power of visual language when you show up on a video call.
Zoom consciousness begins with understanding your personal ASSETS, as I wrote in February 2021. It’s as true today as it was then. After coaching and designing dozens of workshops on Zoom excellence, I see ASSETs as the five basic ingredients of success on video calls: Appearance, Staging and Styling, Energy, and Technology.
Appearance. What you wear reflects your professionalism, as does the color of your clothing. How is your posture? If you like the way you look, your confidence will show.
Staging and Styling. The physical or virtual setting and your choice of props for video calls speak to your message and personality, as Room Rater recommends. From artwork to plants and flowers to brighten and enliven your set, the way you stage and style your shot speaks volumes.
Energy. You convey energy and presence via your body language, facial expressions, and vocal quality in the physical world. On Zoom calls, these are even more important because of the immersive nature of video. What you say and how you say it will set you apart.
Technology. Know how to work the controls of Zoom or your favorite video streaming platform. Your tech includes Internet connection, lighting, webcam, microphone, and virtual backgrounds, and filters that work in concert to deliver you and your message to a meeting.
You can measure how well you’re using your ASSETs every time you engage on Zoom by checking your ZoomScore™, a yardstick based on the 10 essential elements of a professional Zoom presence. I created it in 2020 to help my clients step up their video IQ.
You can apply the ZoomScore™ system to your work online by checking the following:
1. Sharpness of image.
Is your video shot well focused? Is your image displayed clearly on the screen? Is it bright or dark?
2. Overall composition.
Composition is how the elements of the video shot are arranged. Is the image cluttered? Is there harmony in the use of shapes and colors?
Are you positioned properly in the frame? Ideally, your head should appear in the top third of the image area.
4. Proper lighting.
Is your face evenly lit from the front with minimal shadows? Are your eyes and features clearly visible? Avoid backlighting unless you have an equally bright source in front.
5. Eye level and eye line.
The webcam lens should be directly aligned with your eyes to avoid awkward upward or downward angles.
6. Background choice.
Do you have minimal visual distraction and a tasteful backdrop? A physical green screen is highly recommended to avoid the amoeba effect with virtual backgrounds.
7. Background styling.
In physical sets, choose objects strategically to match your industry and reinforce your message. Place artifacts behind or near you as visual cues about who you are and what you stand for.
8. Distance from the camera.
Too close, and your face will appear distorted. Too far away, and you’ll look small and diminished. The ideal distance is about 25 inches or arm’s length from the webcam.
9. Attire and wardrobe.
Are you dressed for the occasion or your occupation? How you dress has a direct correlation to your success mindset.
10. Personal appearance.
Are you well groomed? Watch for flyaway hair that tends to get magnified on the screen. Keep a mirror near your video workplace to check how you look before you turn on the camera.
There’s no going back to a life without Zoom. Video conferencing technology is being integrated into smart offices and meeting rooms. The way you work has been permanently altered, and you will be expected to manage video communications with natural ease and confidence. As you evolve your mastery of virtual alternatives to in-person meetings, resources like your ASSETs, ZoomScore™, and Room Rater’s helpful styling tips will be of use for a long time to come.