Like probably everybody else I’ve been doing a lot of Zoom “meetings” lately and they really can be productive. The way Zoom has removed the barriers to sharing your screen and also see the reactions of people has been an absolute game changer, especially if you’re in any kind of sales whatsoever. The fact that Zoom has really enabled virtually anybody with an internet connection and a half-way decent computer, smart phone or tablet to become a video conferencing pro is just another plus.
But I’ve noticed that a lot of people are just bad Zoom callers. So here are tips to make your Zoom calls so much better.
If you have no other example to use, consider the television news as a benchmark for what you’re trying to do. Their audio and video quality has been good even with many of the newscasters coming to you from their homes. It’s not difficult to achieve a really high quality presentation and, really, you don’t want the quality of the call to overshadow the brilliance of your message.
Sadly, I’ve been on Zoom calls where there was more discussion about technical hurdles and trying to get the message itself as the primary focus rather than the actual topic of the meeting.
In so many cases recently I’ve seen people either use their laptop computer microphones or the headphones that came with their phones for Zoom calls. But I’ve been on more than one of these calls where the audio was so bad it overshadowed the message.
Now there are exceptions. Many newer laptops do have surprisingly good sound so if you bought a computer recently, you’re probably the exception.
Since I also produce a podcast I’ve been using our professional microphones and mixer that I use to record the podcast but you don’t have to be that much of an overachiever.
We also use a Blue Yeti microphone sometimes which sounds great and hooks right to the computer’s USB interface.
I’ve also seen people using USB headset mics which can sound pretty good or even USB lavalier mics like they use on TV news shows.
Also, in order to improve the quality of sound we’ve hung quilts in our office to deaden the echo. I’m sure you know of a room in your home that has less echo. If not, you can follow our example and use tension rods to hang quilts or tapestry which will make a huge difference in the echo effect. Plus, good looking quilts make a nice backdrop.
If you combed your hair before your meeting and at least wore a clean shirt (who needs pants nowadays?) you probably care about appearance. If this is the case, lighting is also a factor. You can make a huge, huge difference in how your video looks with simple lighting adjustments.
If at all possible, avoid sitting in front of a bright source of light like a window. Instead have the lighting coming toward you from the front. What has really worked for me is a desk light that I bought on Amazon which has variable lighting settings and even a fan and two USB charge ports. I can point the light directly at me at its lowest setting and it really fills in shadows well.
Unfortunately our office has a lot of windows which is great for looking at the garden (we also grew a Covid garden) but is terrible from a lighting standpoint. We actually had to pin the curtains to the window frame behind me.
There are also a lot of people using what are called “ring lights” which are exactly what the description implies, it’s a ring of light. A lot of YouTubers and other people shooting indoor video use these. There are a some that can be mounted on a tripod with the phone, if you’re using Zoom with your phone.
This is another area where doing something just a little bit differently can alter the outcome significantly. I’ve been to a lot of Zoom calls where people were calling from their laptop computer sitting on a desk. This means the camera’s looking right up your nose.
Even your doctor wouldn’t do this if they weren’t paid to do so.
This is another reason I like my external USB camera as I can place it on top of my computer monitor and it’s at the right height to look me in the eyes. This is how most business schools tell you to approach someone so this makes sense.
If you are using a notebook computer, perhaps consider getting a notebook computer stand for it to raise it enough to look you in the eye.
If you’re using your phone, perhaps a mount of some sort so that it sits slightly above you would also be a good thing. I have a mount that allows me to use my phone on a camera tripod which means I don’t have to hold it. I can also then move the phone to where the lighting is ideal and even use the USB microphone that I have! In fact, this all works really well with my iPad as well.
Lastly, some Zoom etiquette
There is always that one participant who’s doing something other than paying attention to the Zoom call in any virtual conference. I’ve been with people who were tapping on the desk with a pen, talking with someone else in the room, or otherwise making noise.
Zoom attempts to highlight whoever is talking at the moment so the tapping or other distracting sound is going to highlight you. Please, when you log into a Zoom call take a moment and mute yourself. There’s a little mute button on your window. That way all those sounds you might make don’t distract from the presentation being made.
One more tip...
If at all possible, a physical connection for your computer makes for the best quality with a video conference. This means using an ethernet cable attached to your computer instead of using Wifi. While this isn’t really a big deal, if you’re looking for the highest quality conference with the lowest chance of dropping calls this the way to do it.
Some Zoom uses...
You can use Zoom for so many things. For example, the RV dealership that I used to work for uses Zoom for walk-through videoconferences of their RVs before someone has to come to the dealership.
Real estate agents are using it for walk-throughs of homes so people don’t have to come look at them in person. This has to save the agents a bunch of time and makes it easier to shop remotely for the customer as well.
It is absolutely possible to host Zoom classes and workshops. Perhaps you have some great skill like gardening, candle making, business tools or whatever that you can share with others and it’s possible to sell those lessons or use them to drive sales to your product or service.
You could offer secret tours, behind-the-scenes looks and other exclusive content to people if they share their contact information. This is a great modern version of fish bowling.
With a little change your Zoom experience can really make you look and sound fantastic. This is such a great way to communicate moving forward. I haven’t even touched on creating custom backgrounds and other Zoom effects.
Do you have a great Zoom tip? Share that in the comments on this article or on my Facebook Page.