As a Zoom veteran–having hosted more than sixty top-tier guests on my weekly “Biz Communication Show” such as Joseph Michelli, Michael Coles, Matthew Lampros and Dianna Booher–I offer these 7 ways to make sure your online presentations look and sound highly professional.
ONE: Do your homework
Zoom’s Website provides instructional videos for novice users and for more experienced professionals. For more individual guidance, hire a mentor. I did that initially, and still have the half-hour video that shows him guiding me through the process.
Although we are in the DIY era, with people taking pride in the “do it yourself” approach, you will learn Zoom quicker and more thoroughly if you rely on those who know what you need to know.
TWO: Get over yourself
That is the phrase that Atlanta video company owner Scott Williford uses to calm the fears of his clients, who experience strong anxiety about how they will look on camera, what their voices will sound like and what embarrassing mistakes they will make. I join Scott in emphasizing that your Zoom time is not about you. Instead, your appearances are about the message you bring, along with the relevant and helpful information you share. Concentrate totally on helping your viewers and listeners. Let the impression you make become secondary.
Ironically, that is the formula that will make you shine during presentations.
THREE: Be planned, not canned
Yes, you want to know your material thoroughly. I advise my clients: “The more preparation, the less perspiration during the event.”
However, remember that only actors recite memorized lines. Think about the Zoom presentations you attended that struck you most favorably. Chances are strong that your most effective presenters were not robotic mannequins reciting a script. Quite the opposite: they were having a conversation with you.
Keep this in mind. Leave “delivery” to UPS, FedEx and the post office. Forsake stiff formality. Franklin Roosevelt set the tone with his famed “fireside chats” on radio during the stressful years of World War Two.
FOUR: Use an attractive, relevant background.
When I interviewed a professional broadcaster recently, her setting displayed an array of her reporting experiences with CNN. While few of us will have such an eye-grabbing scene to work with, we can use a backdrop that confirms our business acumen. Nothing expensive required here–a neatly arranged bookcase will suffice. Or a wall with plaques and awards works well. Consider how much more qualified you look in these examples, compared to starting a Zoom interview or group meeting in your bedroom or den or outdoors deck.
FIVE: Use a top-quality external microphone
Yes, our Internet devices come equipped with internal microphones. Those mics are OK for sending a vacation video to your family and friends. Yet when you rely on them for a Zoom meeting, your voice will sound distant and somewhat muffled. Fortunately, you can purchase a freestanding mic that plugs into a computer’s USB port. Make sure you have activated that mic when you are checking into Zoom.
SIX: Look into the camera
Our natural tendency when we are talking with someone is to maintain eye contact with them. Quite possibly your family taught you that, and business courses emphasized the value of “eyeballing” while communicating. As a result, you will have to retrain yourself on this. If you look at your Zoom participants, they will see you looking down on the screen. Train yourself to stay glued to the camera.
SEVEN: Create video variety
Next time you watch a TV ad (if you really do watch them) pay attention to the rapid scene changes. You will want to do that with Zoom. For example, if you start off with Speaker View showing you as the only one on the screen, alternate between that setting and Gallery View. One of Zoom’s features most presenters welcome is that Zoom will switch back and forth between the settings automatically, depending on who is talking–just like network TV.
Additional ways to foster variety: hold up photos or use Share Screen to show PowerPoint slides or other visual aids.
You do not have to be a techie geek to succeed with Zoom. Follow these seven steps, and you and your Zoom guests will benefit professionally, and will enjoy each opportunity to transform from “remote” and “virtual” to “up close
NOTE: This article appeared first in Matthew Lampros’ book, The Awkward Turtle, available on Amazon. Reprinted by permission.