Steve Dunn’s Basic Guide to Looking Good on Zoom

by Steve Dunn, Mediator 

 

In any video conference, especially a mediation, it is important to be seen and heard clearly. This ensures a high quality of communication, even if not quite as effective as being there in person. Here are some basic tips to help you look and sound your best in a video conference.

 

Lighting

The most important consideration is lighting. Make sure you are in a well-lit room with a bright light illuminating your face. Avoid sitting in front of windows. I like to place a fluorescent ring light, also known as a “selfie light” right behind my laptop. This ensures even illumination without harsh shadows. You do not need any special products to look great online, though. Just make sure the stronger light is in front of you, not behind you. 

 

Eye Level

Next, be sure to place your device’s camera at eye level. My solution is low-tech: I just sit my laptop on a stack of books! You want to appear to the others online as though you are speaking directly to them, not looking down on them from above. 

 

 

Sound Quality

For sound, quality varies widely depending on your device. Many newer computers come with high quality speakers and microphones built in, so you may not need any special equipment. If you want to take it up a level, headsets are great for ensuring you can hear and be heard without background noise or feedback. I use my laptop’s onboard speakers with a lavalier microphone that clips to my tie. You just need to experiment and find what works best for you. 

 

Background

Some video platforms like Zoom also offer a “virtual background” option. This can be great if you do not have a suitable location while working from home or if you wish to maintain a consistent professional appearance in all your meetings. To get the best performance from virtual backgrounds, you may consider using a green screen. This is basically the same technology your TV weather reporter uses on the local news.

If you choose to use a green screen, you want to make sure it is non-reflective (most on the market are muslin fabric) and a uniform color. This means it is flat and evenly lit. Place yourself as far in front of the screen as you can, and light the screen from behind you so you do not cast a shadow on it. With this arrangement, there will be a crisp, imperceptible border between you and your virtual background. Be careful not to wear green clothing, though, because that will become part of the background, too!

Green screens are not necessary for most people. Just the basic tips are will keep you looking and sounding great online. If you only take one thing away from this, please just don’t sit in front of a window. Put the light on your face! 

 
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ABOUT STEVE DUNN

As a full-time mediator at Miles Mediation & Arbitration, Steve Dunn handles complex business and labor and employment disputes. Steve is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.