From TV news interviews to international business conferences, Zoom calls have become a stand-in for face-to-face interactions. It may seem easier to conduct a live interview or speaking engagement in the comfort of your own home, but virtual speaking opportunities require you to take on the roles of camera operator, set designer, producer and technical support, all in addition to your duties as spokesperson.
On top of practicing and preparing as you would for a regular media interview, take a look at these best practices for setting up so you can “Zoom” through your next virtual speaking opportunity with ease.
1. Set your username and profile picture.
Your username is displayed below your video feed. Make sure it is your full name, and not your spouse’s name or a distracting screenname.
The same goes for your profile picture, which will be visible if you pause your video feed. Choose a professional image that helps you put your best foot forward.
2. Set up screen sharing, if necessary.
If you plan on sharing your screen, you will need to adjust your computer’s privacy settings beforehand to allow permissions. If you have multiple screens, know which one you want to share and prepare your screen beforehand by opening the right file, queuing up your video, navigating to the correct website and closing all other tabs and windows.
3. Close all other programs on your computer, silence your phone and turn off notification sounds.
There’s nothing more distracting than seeing (and hearing) your new emails or text messages come in while you’re trying to hit all your talking points during a live media stream. Minimize notification distractions as much as possible.
4. Know your hot keys and shortcuts.
The Zoom Desktop Client has keyboard shortcuts that allow you to navigate the settings without using your mouse, which are especially useful during virtual panels. For example, if you want to quickly unmute yourself, just press and hold the space bar down while talking, then release to mute yourself again.
5. Make sure your internet connection is strong and secure.
If possible, we recommend using a hardwired internet connection. With WiFi, you may notice that you need to be closer to your wireless router, or you may have to ask other members of your household to log off for the duration of your session. If you use WiFi, be conscious of the areas in your house with the best signal and set up your camera accordingly.
1. Place your webcam at eye level.
This vantage point looks more professional and prevents you from slouching to the camera’s level. It also helps you avoid the dreaded up-the-nostril or double-chin angles. If your webcam isn’t adjustable, stack up books or boxes under your computer to get the right height.
2. Step into the light.
Webcam images already appear low-quality, so good lighting is a must. Make sure the lighting is coming from in front of you (behind the camera), and not behind you. If possible, face a window to take advantage of natural light.
Another way to improve your image is to use the Touch Up My Appearance option. Not only does it smooth out your skin and minimize imperfections, it also subtly brightens the overall picture.
3. Check your background.
Be aware of what’s in frame and clear your background of any distracting or problematic clutter. Think carefully about the message you may be sending based on visuals alone. For example, if you’re speaking about sustainability and recycling, you may not want to have a bunch of plastic bottles in frame. If you’re speaking in a professional context, you don’t want to have your unmade bed in the background.
Want more? We’re compiling a list of presentation tips so you can prepare for your virtual speaking opportunity with confidence. Stay tuned for Part 4 of our virtual events series, and be sure to check out our previous blog posts on planning virtual events: