How to look professional on video
Videos have become a crucial element for business communication today. For millions of workers forced to work from home, video meetings are now the norm.
Who doesn’t want to look their best on video? While many of us have dabbled in homemade videos from time to time, few of us can honestly say we know how to behave professionally in front of the camera.
The stress of looking professional on video is enormous because we know the event is being streamed live and our colleagues, bosses and in some cases, our clients are watching too. One wrong move could be a career killer.
How to look professional on video
Looking professional on video is not being vain. The image you project on live video streams can impact what others think about you and how they behave towards you. If you are a manager, a strong video presence can mean motivating staff to stay engaged and productive while they work remotely from home. If you are in sales, a pleasant video personality is more likely to appeal to a customer than one that comes across as bossy and arrogant.
Every aspect of business communication is now driven by technology and video features dominantly in this space. So, it’s time to get serious about your video presence.
Common mistakes people make when they on video
My clients come from across Australia, so I’ve been using Zoom to coach and consult long before the pandemic popularise it. But even a seasoned professional like me suffer from the occasional video meltdowns. Being prepared can minimise many common video mistakes. Knowing how to behave when a glitch occurs (and believe me, they can happen!) will also help you navigate out of the problem professionally.
Here are some common mistakes people are making on ZOOM meetings:
Not taking technology seriously
Guess what? Murphy Law applies to technology – ‘whatever could go wrong, will go wrong’ – if you allowed it. Imagine hosting a department meeting with your boss as a participant and your microphone is not connected.
Not looking professional
Don’t even think you can get away with just dressing the top half of the body and leaving the pyjama bottoms on. If the meeting is a lengthy one and you decide midway you need to excuse yourself to get a cup of coffee, all will be revealed…
Failing to connect with your audience
Connecting with a virtual audience is not simply logging into Zoom or Skype. Your camera must be positioned right so people can see you. You must speak clearly so they can hear you. Ideally, you want your staff or client to focus on what you are saying so you can push your point across.
Stopping at every mistake or miscue
You’re midway through your presentation to a group of clients before you suddenly realised the slides you’ve shared the notes you’ve written for your presentation. You’ve got ‘winking face with tongue’ emojis on your notes to remind you to make a joke and laugh. Now, it’s displayed on the screen… What do you do?
Don’t stop. Make a passing joke about the faux pas and keep going. If you keep starting and stopping for every mistake or miscue, they will not be impressed.
Not muting when you should mute
Your colleague is speaking. Hubby wanders into the room to ask if you want him to heat-up the leftovers. Now everyone in the office knows you’re having yesterday’s lasagne for tea.
Trying to do something else while on video
You’ve decided you can multi-task while on a video call, so you open a new tab to check your emails. Someone’s asked you a question. You did not hear the question.
Failing to understand video attention span
You get carried away with your Zoom meetings and insist on marathon brainstorming sessions. Everyone is working at home with their dog, cat and kids. No one has the luxury of lengthy meetings anymore.
Professional Video Conferencing Etiquette
1. Use business headphones or earbuds
With so many people participating in video meetings and conferences, having a good business headset with a microphone and noise-cancelling functions is essential if you want to stay in touch and engaged with your virtual audience.
Here’s my recommendations:
Apple AirPods Pro – Effective noise cancelling with superior audio
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 – Wireless with fantastic noise-cancelling properties
Plantronics BlackBeat Pro 2 – Incredible 24-hour battery life
2. Install a good webcam
Laptops are equipped with decent webcams but if you want superior quality visual for your Zoom meetings, consider investing in a good webcam instead.
Here’s my recommendations:
Logitech StreamCam – Superior 1080p video quality with content creation functionality including auto-focusing, smart exposure and facial tracking.
Logitech C922 – Built-in lowlight function is excellent for streaming without switching on the lights.
Microsoft LifeCam HD3000 – Affordable with auto-focus functions to keep you well-lit during business conferencing and video presentations.
3. Don’t like headphones? Use a microphone
A simple laptop is not going to deliver the high-quality audio you need for that important meeting or client presentation.
Try the following:
Blue Yeti USB – Four different pattern modes to suit all types of uses from conference calls to recording music.
Shure MV5 – Detachable microphone with three pre-set modes (instrumental, flat and vocals).
JUNIVO – Affordable with a central LED-equipped mute button for those moments when you need to press MUTE quickly.
4. Ensure proper lighting
Zoom does not have a lowlight feature. Because of this, you will need proper lighting – whether it’s natural or artificial – while you are zooming. The best type of artificial lighting for Zoom meetings are LED lights because they have a more video-friendly tone. Position the lighting directly on your face for the best effect.
If you prefer natural sunlight, sit in a well-lit room and have your meeting earlier rather than later in the day especially in winter when the weather tends to turn greyer as the day progresses.
5. Test your equipment
Test your equipment and your internet connectivity before you start a Zoom meeting or presentation. Sharing platforms like Google Docs and Slack are great to circulate documents or files before a meeting.
6. Frame your face
Smartphones and webcam are notorious for a wide-angled face. If you get too close to the camera you are going to have a slightly weird over-bloated face. Ideally, your head and shoulders should be visible to your audience. Practise your best frame before you start a Zoom or Skype Meeting.
7. Check your background
Backgrounds are distracting. Consider adding a virtual background or sitting behind a neutral wall. Check what you have on the desk that could be visible to the camera and get rid of any item that will draw attention away from you.
8. Touch up your appearance
Business meetings are professional meetings so dress for the part.
Zoom V4.0 for macOS, Windows or iOS has a special feature you can use to further enhance your visual appearance when zooming.
9. Mute your mic
When you are not speaking, mute your microphone so you don’t accidentally share private remarks or background noise with others.
10. Keep track of who is joining your Zoom Meeting
You can run a report after a Zoom Meeting to see who has joined the meeting. To do this, you must 1) be the host of the meeting 2) have Usage Reports authorisation 3) be the account administrator or owner. You also need a Pro, API Partner, Business or Education Plan.
11. Be engaging
Speak clearly. Use the right tone of voice and just enough non-verbals to convey your interest and engagement in the meeting. Pay attention to what others are saying. Respond appropriately.
12. Stop Zoom Bombing
If you are the host of the Zoom Meeting, create a Waiting Room and put anyone joining the call on a queue that you can easily manage. That way people cannot zoom bomb your meeting. You can create a screen for the people in the Waiting Room. That way, you can keep everyone on the same page even though they are joining at a different time.
13. Do something fun like a Zoom Poll
Struggling to find ways to engage with your team? Add a Zoom Poll to your bi-weekly meeting to collect responses from your team.
14. Generate database
If you are running a free web session, getting participants to fill up a Zoom Form is a brilliant way to collect data.
15. Share and annotate visuals
Need to share a visual? Share and annotate it on Zoom. You will need to use the Zoom web portal (not your app) to enable this function. Go to Account Management, Account Settings, Meeting (tab), Meeting (Basic).
If you are a participant and want to join in by marking an image that has been shared go to the Toolbar, View, Option, Annotate.
16. Record your Zoom
Zoom meetings can be recorded and shared with participants who cannot attend. A recording is also important if you want to transcribe notes.
Video meetings are becoming commonplace in the new normal. Whether it’s Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, WebEx or Hangouts, we all want the same thing. Push a point. Engage the audience. Close a sale. And dare I say it? Look good and impress others. Good luck, Zooming!