As we are all finding ourselves thrust into the “on-camera” world (like it or not!), we are faced with learning how to make the strongest impact in a broadcast medium. Here are 10 tips — small adjustments that can make a big difference in your Zoom, WebX or Skype appearances:
1. Set up a Comfortable, Consistent, Conducive Environment
In any situation, human beings fear the unknown — including when it comes to public speaking or, in this case, speaking to someone via the computer. Finding a spot that you can use consistently for your online meetings is crucial. Ideally, it should be in an area that’s removed from the other goings-on in your household: away from the kids’ rooms, away from the kitchen and, ideally, without windows. If there are windows, the lighting is bound to change based on the time of day.
2. Choose a Visually Appealing, Non-distracting Background
A blank white wall does nothing to enhance an image. Sometimes, it takes a little creativity to create a better background. Recently, a client mentioned two possible options for a background in her home, neither of which looked good. One was in front of a window and the other in front of a blank white wall. During our session, she picked up her computer to walk me around her home, and I saw a beautiful, soft brown accent wall. It was by a fireplace and had a shelf and a small table. It was perfect! She added a plant and voila! She had a great background for her meetings.
3. Check Your Framing
Framing is one of the most important considerations for online meetings, but is also the most frequently overlooked. The ideal framing for your shot is from the chest up, with your face filling the frame and just a touch of headroom above you.
4. Properly Position Your Camera and Body
To look your best, and to create a strong connection to your audience, your camera should be at eye level (prop it up with books if you have to), and you should fill the frame. Your posture should show engagement and authority.
5. Improve Your Sound
Don’t rely on your computer microphones for your sound. You can buy a lapel microphone for around $20 and dramatically increase the quality of your sound. Not only does it take away the amateurish, tin-like quality, but it will launch you into DJ status! Using a good microphone also has the benefit of reducing feedback, and a headset will cinch it.
6. Set up Flattering Lighting
A small ring light around your computer’s camera can make a world of difference to your appearance, as can a full-size ring light on a stand. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Even the least self-centered people I know order a ring light when they see the difference it can make. Just be aware that if you wear glasses, the lights will show in them; you can rectify this problem with a simple tilt of the head.
7. Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact is always critical in communication; it conveys trustworthiness, credibility, engagement and likability. So, how can you make eye contact with a person in a different room, in a separate square on the screen? It’s simple: Look directly at your camera. It takes some practice, because it’s natural to want to look at the image of the person to whom you are speaking. Looking directly at the camera, however, is like looking right into their eyes.
8. Be Animated
Just because you aren’t being seen below your chest doesn’t mean you can’t speak with enthusiasm. Hand gestures and some body movement shows that you are three-dimensional. No one wants to be thought of as a “talking head.”
9. Have Compelling Content
In virtual meetings, your content needs to be even more interesting than in an in-person setting. People sitting at their computers will be distracted by things like what’s on their desk and their email notifications. Hold their attention by cutting long stories or examples in half, using visuals, and changing them up a lot. Even better: Engaging the other person or people by asking questions will encourage engagement and encourage them to stay awake!
10. Be Real
Nothing says “relatable” more than realizing we are all in the same boat and acting and dressing accordingly. If your child or pet walks in during your meeting, don’t panic. The people on the other end of the meeting have probably had something similar happen to them. The good news is that relatability results in likability.
One last tip: When everything is in place, do a run-through before your meeting. Hold a practice meeting with a friend or family member, ask them to take a screenshot, and review and adjust accordingly.
These 10 tips will enable you to appear more visually appealing to your audience. They will help you come across as more authoritative; enable you to deliver your messages with strength and clarity; and give you peace of mind and confidence, knowing everything within your control, is … well … controlled. Show your teammates, your boss and your staff that you are still a pro — and have your meeting production quality support that fact.