How to make a winning impression on Zoom video

First impressions count. Before opening the door to your Zoom room check out Mi Elfverson’s advice on how to set up for success.

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Mi Elfverson

If you were going to a networking meeting or a client meeting, I’m sure you would spruce up a little bit and make sure you have all your paraphernalia in order, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t rock up with a messy top and no makeup. And you’d definitely make sure that the branded material you’re handing out looks spick and span. Because we know that first impressions last.

So of course you need to ensure that you apply the same care and consideration when you do a Zoom call or video recording from home. You’re meeting people, just in a different setting. 

What your viewers see in that little frame, is your brand promise for the future. Everything, from your smile to the colour of the wall. But also the empty wineglass and your partner’s underpants drying on the radiator behind you.

The tricky thing is when you need to set up in an environment that isn’t your office or a fancy film studio, what do you do then? How can you enhance the whole picture of you and your brand from the corner of your living room or a bedroom?

Here’s how you can create your own simple studio without spending a penny.

Keep it tidy

Clearing out and decluttering is the simplest way to give a neat and tidy impression. Less is usually more, unless you’re an interior designer or props master, so keep it simple. A tidy bookshelf, a nice bunch of flowers, or even just making sure that there’s no mess behind you is a good start. If you have loads of messy paperwork, empty bags of crisps and dried out plants behind you, there’s a risk that the viewer subconsciously read this as the status of your business; a bit of a mess and dried out, no control and no care for the details.

Beware of anything that could be offensive to your target audience, it’s best not to risk anything with explicit paintings, alcohol, cigarettes, plastic bottles or single use coffee mugs – even children’s toys, as it could make it look like you’re about to run off to save a child from choking any second. 

Lights, camera, action

Light is a really important factor for any video format. The more light, the crisper and clearer the image will be and the more your colours will pop. So if you’re showcasing products, you will need lots of light to show off the real colour.

Daylight is the best and strongest light source, so make use of your biggest window and make sure you’re facing the light source. If you want to buy a cheap video light, look for something with a softener. This will be better for your skin tone. 

Camera composition

Composition is what we can see in the frame. You’re what people want to see, so make sure we can see as much as possible of your face and upper body, not the ceiling behind you.

You don’t need so much space above your head in the frame, it’s better if we can see more of your body. Positioning your head higher up (rather than bang in the middle) will allow us to see your hands.

Lift the computer or camera up on something, a box or pile of books, so you’re eye level with the viewer. This is the natural way of communicating with a person, you don’t want to look down upon anyone, or up. If you’re looking down into your laptop, the viewer will see up your nostrils and you’ll get a double chin (we all get one if we look down!) But whatever your camera is on, make sure it’s levelled and not wonky.

Mi Elferson sits on sofa in front of camera and waves

Using Zoom backgrounds

Zoom backgrounds is included in the Zoom app, allowing you to create your own backdrop or choose one of theirs. The problem is, unless you have a very plain background already and good light, you’ll risk half of your face disappearing into the background of a jungle or outer space and you’ll look like an alien. 

Sit still

It doesn’t get easier than that, does it? People moving around on Zoom, not being properly set up before the call, or fiddling around with their setup, can be very disruptive. So make sure you practice your setup before the call and then just stay calm and composed. 

Neutralise any incoming fire

You can bet your bottom dollar that as soon as you’ve launched your call your doorbell will ring, your child will burst in, your email will go nuts or your best friend will decide to send you a million pictures of their new puppy. Make sure you switch off as many devices as possible, put a note on the door to leave the parcel outside and let your children know that they can’t enter the room because you’re in an important meeting. 

It’s about you

No matter what you do with your background, in the end the impression your viewer will remember is you. We all know that listening to someone’s personal rambling isn’t exactly how we want to spend our time, so try and relax, be personable but efficient and to the point. Use a light-hearted tone, avoid negativities and always represent your brand in the way you want it to be seen.

People read into your passion and they love seeing passionate people. Don’t be afraid of showing how much you enjoy your work and let it shine, this is the best you can do for your business and yourself to thrive.

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