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How to look and sound great in Zoom meetings

Hardly a working day goes by without being invited to a webinar or Zoom meeting. We've had desktop teleconferencing solutions for years, but events of late have made teleconferencing a business essential.

Appearing and sounding professional is something we've all spend years refining. How do we apply this to a Zoom meeting? Here are three tips to help you look better and sound better, without the need for surgery, or by getting too technical:

1. Raise your camera

Most people use the camera built-in to the monitor of their notebook pc or MacBook, and the image quality of these built-in cameras is usually quite good.

However, having the camera at near desk-level means that the camera will be pointing upwards towards you while you’re meeting or presenting. This is never a flattering look. A simple solution is to elevate the notebook closer to eye-level is by buying a notebook stand ($15-$60 through retailers).

My no-cost solution consists of a couple of old text books with an A4 binder on top. The wedge-shape of the binder enables me to have the MacBook sloped towards me, making it easier to see and use the both the touchpad and the keyboard.

2. Lights, camera, action!

As a general rule-of-thumb never have a window or bright light at your back when having a webinar or Zoom meeting during the daytime. This will lead to blown-out highlights behind you, while leaving you appearing to be sitting in the dark.

If a meeting is during the day it, simply turn yourself around so that the window is facing you. To better illustrate this, simply switch on your camera and if you’re sitting on a swivel chair, turn around until you can see yourself evenly lit.

We often see Youtubers using ring-lights or LED lights with diffusers in their work to give them evenly lit and flattering result. Typically, a ring light is an easy-to-use multipurpose lighting tool that enables users to obtain a source of uniform light that comes directly from the point of view of their cameras.

A ring-light with stand costs less than $120. However, daylight from a nearby window is still free. Iphone-sized RGB lights can be bought for as little as $50 and these give even the most boring of home offices the 'studio' look.

3. Be heard clearly (but only when you want to)

Generally speaking the closer you get to your microphone, the better. the sound quality. This is because as you move away from the microphone, your computer automatically turns up the sensitivity of your microphone (called ‘gain’) leading to some undesirable effects.

Firstly, your microphone will not just broadcast your voice, but pick up noises from around the room and maybe in some cases from outside your building.

Secondly, you may experience echoing from your rooms’ acoustics or even feedback caused by sound loop between your speakers and your microphone. All of this will be minimised by keeping a distance of ½ a metre or less between you and your microphone.

Although not essential, I use an inexpensive headset. Headsets allow the microphone to remain at a constant, but very close distance to you, even if you move around during the call.

Earbuds, like those supplied by phone manufacturers work very well also. Just check that the earbuds you have are connectable with your notebook PC or MacBook.

Please remember that when you are in a meeting, any loud noise coming from your end (including snoring) will highlight your camera and everyone will know it’s you!

To be safe, when you're in a meeting and not talking or presenting just press the mute button!

I hope that this helps. If you have any questions on the above, please don't hesitate to send me an email titled 'HELP!' to the address below:

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