Zooming has become a way of life. Make the most of it in business and for fun. Two experts, Betty Dannewitz, a multimedia specialist with Ally Bank, and Carrie LaZotte, from Camera Ready Productions, will help us all look great and get the most out of our online interactions.
Looking our Best Online
- Pay attention to the angle of the camera. The lens should be slightly above eye level. You may need to prop the computer up on a book or box.
- Invest in a soft light that you can place in front of you. A small desktop cameral and microphone can also be help. Virtual meetings aren’t going away anytime soon, even after the current crisis improves, so now is the time to prepare for the future.
- Wear your favorite color to make you feel confident, but black or white are colors to avoid. Black makes you blend in to the background, and white is too reflective of light and can wash you out.
- For work meetings, dress as you would if the meeting were in person.
- Wear make up as you normally would, but be sure to highlight eyebrows, since those really help enhance our facial expressions and visually communicate our feelings and intentions.
- Pay attention to your background. Make sure that what people see on screen behind you says what you want it to say about you.
- Look into the camera lens when you’re presenting, so it appears that you’re looking people in the eye. This takes energy and focus, but it’s worth it.
- If you must move around your house or do something else that is distracting, make sure you use the “stop camera” feature of the software you’re using. If you can, set up a photo of your face that will appear when you stop the video.
- Lay out your objectives ahead of time, and determine the best way to accomplish them. Do you need a large group or smaller ones? Will one person do all the talking while others are muted, or will everyone be able to talk? Will you need to share your screen or present slides that you prepare ahead of time? What Zoom tools will be useful?
- Participant Buttons are found at the bottom of the screen. Click on Participants and find the options to “raise your hand,” give a thumbs up, or even express your need for coffee. The administrator can see those and can also clear them.
- Chat allows users to share a comment or question with the whole group or with an individual attendee. If someone is presenting while the rest of the group is muted, people can still ask a question via chat.
- Polls allow the administrator to ask a specific, objective question and gauge the response. This is not for open-ended questions, but can be useful for things as simple as offering options for lunch time or length, to ask a multiple choice question to determine if participants have grasped a major point.
- Annotate is a feature that is accessed from the top center of the screen under View Options. It allows participants to type or draw on a shared screen. It can be used to offer a comment, or to collaborate on a document. It’s also just a fun tool to use when you are Zooming with friends or family, and could be a way to play various games (from hangman and tic tac toe, to Pictionary).
- Breakout Rooms are used to separate a large group into smaller working groups. The administrator can set the number of rooms, and can choose specific participants for each room or allow the software to randomly divide people into a set number of rooms. The organizer also sets a time limit for the rooms, and when the time expires, all participants are returned to the larger group. While in the smaller groups, people can share screens and use all of the other tools available to the larger group, making it easy to work on documents or other tasks.
- Stormboard is an app that can be used while on Zoom. It is a collaborative brainstorming tool that works like a whiteboard. It can be divided into sections, and meeting participants can place virtual sticky notes onto the board with their ideas, which can then be organized into the sections as applicable.
- Virtual Backgrounds can be used either for fun, or if one’s actual background isn’t as polished as the user might want.
For more information on getting the most out of Zoom and other virtual meeting software, the book Interact and Engage, by Kassy Laborie, is a good resource.