Zooming for the Holidays

December 21, 2020

Are you ready to Zoom this holiday season? Sure you may be using GoToMeeting or Skype, but no matter the format, video is here to stay. Let’s talk about getting your game on for video gatherings.

Here are our top five video tips to help you make it through the holiday season:

  1. Be Early & Test. Show up 10 minutes early to check your video, audio and lighting before signing in. Quick check with your camera. Click on the windows button (bottom left of screen), and scroll down to “Camera.” Click on this to see what you and your background look like. Check your sound too to make sure you can hear and be heard. Hint: If you are using Zoom it has a feature called “Test” that you’ll find at the bottom of the web site main page under “Support.”
  2. Check your Background and Outfit. Make sure your shirt looks good and the room behind you isn’t distracting – you want everybody focusing on the conversation. Get the pile of laundry out of the room or set a Zoom Background with your fantasy house instead. Get the dog and the cat out of the room if they are going to interfere and shut the door if you have one.
    • Block Out your Background. Are you sitting in front of a boring wall or concerned someone may walk through the camera view? A background picture will hide anything behind you. Here’s how to set a background photo in Zoom - At the bottom left of the Zoom video screen when you are in the meeting (you can set this up in advance using the Test mode), there is a video camera; click on the little arrow beside it and select “Choose Virtual Background.” Note – before using this feature, you need to save a photo where you can find it to upload it to Zoom. Google “free Zoom background photos” there are plenty to choose from.
    • Erase your Wrinkles. Do you want to hide a blemish or reduce those smile lines? Go into the Zoom Video Settings and choose to “Touch Up My Appearance”. Oprah says everybody does it.
    • Best Clothing Choices. Bold solid colors are best on video. Choose a color that looks good on you and if the lighting is low, try not to go too dark. Wear pants or a skirt that matches your outfit because one day you will stand up and that’s not the way to get noticed.
  3. Pro Tips.
    • Think about Lighting. Facing a sunny window is best. Otherwise, turn on every light you have and place a bright light behind the computer camera.
    • Camera Upgrade. If good lighting, touch-ups and appropriate clothing choices still leave the visual wanting, it’s probably your computer camera. Consider investing in an upgrade.
    • Disappear for a Break. Have a post it tab ready to “turn off” your camera if you need a break (because your background stays up). Then you can set a picture of yourself as the “background” photo while you are taking a breather.
    • Look your audience in the eye – look into the camera, not the monitor. If you have notes to refer to, place them as close to the camera as you can, or bring up in split screen.
  4. Technical Assistant. Assign technical duties to one participant who will be tasked with making sure there are no technical difficulties during your Zoom (everybody can hear and be heard, monitoring the chat feed, muting when necessary, break-out rooms, contacting missing participants, etc.)
  5. Chat Rooms. Are there going to be a lot of participants? Learn how to use the “Breakout Room” feature and separate people into smaller groups for a few minutes (experts suggest no more than three 5-minute breakout sessions). You will want to have a moderator designated in advance for each break-out room and consider having a specific topic for discussion. Zoom has video training sessions under “Support;” there is a video called “Zoom Rooms Training” – have your Technical Assistant and your Breakout Room Moderators learn how to use this feature for you.

Now go get them, you are practically YouTube ready!

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