By now, most of us are quite comfortable using virtual meeting platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. While these are great tools for connecting with people remotely, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for us to stay engaged throughout these virtual interactions. When we can’t clearly see or hear the person we’re “connecting” with, this virtual experience can become very frustrating, even painful at times.
If you’re the one leading these virtual meetings, you need to present yourself in a way that makes people feel engaged. Otherwise, you’re wasting your—and everyone else’s—time. Here are 5 tips on how you can stand out in your virtual meetings.
- Fix your audio.
It doesn’t matter how great you look on camera. If people can’t hear you clearly, they’ll switch off. Improve your audio by doing these:
- Use a headset or a pair of earphones with a decent microphone. Most people just use their computer’s built-in microphone, which can make your voice sound very echoey, and picks up a lot of background noise.
- Want to sound even better? Use an external microphone like a lavalier or USB microphone. They’re very easy to use and can make you look and sound like a professional broadcaster.
2. Get ample lighting.
Next to your audio, your lighting is the second most important element. If your lighting is bad, you’ll look bad. Get great lighting with these tips:
- If you have windows in your room, use the natural light coming through as your main light source. Not only is this light free, it also makes your skin look good. Make sure you have that natural light in front of you, instead of having your back towards it.
- Don’t have windows in your room? No problem. All you need is an external light source like a lamp, a ring light, or an LED panel. Position this light source 45 degrees in front of you to get the most flattering look. This will leave just the right intensity of shadow on your face, thereby adding definition and giving you a dramatic look.
- To soften that shadow, get another light source and position it 45 degrees opposite your main light.
3. Aim your camera at eye level.
Most people who use their laptop’s built-in camera simply put their device on their desk and stare down at their camera. This can make your audience feel like you’re looking down on them. You’re also forcing them to look up your chin or your nose, which is very unflattering.
To fix this, set up your camera at eye level. This makes people feel you’re connecting with them at the same level. Use a laptop stand or a stack of books to get your camera at just the right height.
Make sure you don’t angle your camera too high, either. This gives your audience the impression that they’re looking down at you, and could diminish your credibility as the host of your meeting.
4. Stop using your laptop’s built-in camera.
Just because your laptop has a built-in camera doesn’t mean you need to use it. You may think your video looks “fine” but the resolution of most of these cameras is very low. This makes your video feed look grainy, and in some cases, even distorted.
The good news is, you don’t need to buy an expensive webcam to improve your video. There are many apps that allow you to use your smartphone as your webcam—and the quality is better than most webcams out there. Try using one of these apps:
- If you’re an iPhone user, you can use EpocCam.
- For Android users, consider using iVCam.
Want the ultimate solution to look like a real professional in your virtual meetings? Use a DSLR or a mirrorless camera paired with a video capture card. Your video will be impeccably crisp, and you’ll have that cinematic blurry background.
5. Make your background interesting.
First, let’s talk about what should not be in your background. Your background shouldn’t show your clutter or anything that’s inappropriate or distracting. People have a short attention span so their eyes will naturally wander to the space around you. When that happens, they can either get distracted by what they see or find something that makes you look more interesting or relatable as a person.
Most people just settle for whatever background they readily have available (e.g. their kitchen or a blank wall). These aren’t bad, but they’re boring because they say nothing about you as a person. You can fix this by choosing your background deliberately. Spend some time making the space around you visually appealing.
Include elements that give people a glimpse into your personality. Add pictures, memorabilia, and books into your background. These can make you look more interesting as an individual.
With proper planning and a bit of effort, you can make it easier for people to connect and engage with you. You’ll also be able to build your virtual brand, which is a must for any leader who wants to thrive in this digital world.