Anatomy of … a Proper Zoom Meeting

Become a Virtual Virtuoso

Now that you’re taking meetings from home, you still want to command presence. These tips will help you convey the right message.

Keep your camera on. It’s easier to be overlooked when your camera is off, says Karin M. Reed, co-author of Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work. Even if your living space is small, “find a couple of feet behind you that can be clean and uncluttered,” Reed says.

Remember you’re always on camera. Unlike in-person meetings, virtual meetings provide no information as to where people are looking. Remain composed and don’t allow shock, disbelief, frustration, or other emotions to show, says Carol Camerino, career advisor for University of Phoenix.

Double-check your username. With so many of us Zooming professionally and personally, we may have different usernames based upon the audience. Check how your name is listed and change as needed based upon the group and meeting, says Camerino.

Mute yourself when you’re not speaking. Household noises can be disruptive. Remember to unmute when it’s your turn to contribute, says Camerino.

Avoid virtual backgrounds. Sometimes it can be difficult detecting where a person ends and the virtual background begins, creating watery edges on the screen. Such visual disturbances can distract your audience, says Reed.

Know where to direct your eyes. When you want to speak with impact, look primarily at your camera lens, Reed suggests. When you’re listening to someone else speak, look at the screen. Also, keep the camera at eye level, Reed adds.

Consider props. Before setting a plant or stack of books behind you, “give thought to what you want to convey and what effectively and accurately reflects your professional image,” says Camerino. “Take a screenshot with your video camera on and review what’s showing up in your background.”

Choose your wardrobe carefully. “See how fabrics and patterns play on the screen and against your background. Busy patterns and stripes can have a strobe effect, so avoid them if possible. Also, select colors that stand out against your background,” says Camerino.

Use sufficient lighting. Avoid having a light source behind you or it will look like you are in silhouette. Instead, ensure that your face is well lit. “Facing a window is always a good bet, provided you don’t have sunlight streaming in on you,” says Reed. A small lamp on your desk could also do the trick.

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