Succeeding in the workforce is more about appearances than we’d like to admit. Business is all about making good first impressions and maintaining them. Being professional can create strong relationships with clients and affect your reputation with your colleagues over a long period. If you want to be taken seriously as a professional, you’ll need to look the part.
This is especially true in a virtual sphere. Without the context and nuances of in-person interaction, you’re left with very little to show yourself off as a professional. Those who excelled at professionalism in person may struggle with doing the same on a platform like Zoom.
So, what are some ways to boost your professionalism virtually? We’ve put together this article to help. It features nine strategies you can use to make yourself look as professional as possible during Zoom calls. With these tips, you can make the right impressions.
Make Zoom professional with these tips and tricks
Dress for success
It’s easy to think that you can get away with dressing in sweatpants on Zoom calls. Sometimes, you can. It’s not like they can see your bottom half, right? However, by doing so, you risk coming across as unprofessional in a few ways.
First, there’s always the chance that someone on the Zoom call will spot your unprofessional clothing choice, especially if you don’t turn off your camera when you get up to grab a document. If that person is a supervisor or manager, it could impact how they view you in subtle ways. You don’t want to risk them thinking you don’t take your work seriously.
Also, the clothing we wear impacts how we see ourselves. If you’re wearing professional clothing, you’re much more likely to feel and speak professionally throughout the Zoom call. On the other hand, the opposite could be true if you wear casual clothing. When you dress casually, you may slip into a more casual tone of voice and mannerisms than what you would usually use in an office setting.
This is why you should always dress for success during important Zoom conversations. Even if no one can see your pajama pants, dressing in a relaxed way can be a detriment to your self-image as a professional.
Do a background check
Your background on a Zoom call can convey just as much about you as how you behave on the call. New research shows that people have strong opinions on this subject. Those polled said that the background affects how they see the individual in areas of authenticity, trustworthiness, and expertise. All of these factors can affect your professional appearance over Zoom.
So what makes a good Zoom background?
For starters, spruce up the place. Your background shouldn’t show piles of dirty laundry, cardboard boxes, or a litter box. Clean up what’s behind you. It’s also a good idea to sit at a desk. Decor like professional wall art and a bookshelf are nice touches for your background as well.
Of course, this won’t be possible for everyone. If you don’t have enough space to find a professional Zoom background in your home, then consider using a virtual background instead. Choose the right background for the tone of the call, though. Using a plain color or a tasteful landscape will typically be your best option.
Get into office mode
To appear professional, you need to act professionally. That means getting into “office mode” before your Zoom meeting begins. What does that mean? You shouldn’t conduct yourself as if you’ve just rolled out of bed. Take the time before the call to get focused, and you’ll be set up for behaving properly in the Zoom meeting.
One of the most important parts of this is eliminating all distractions that could cause you to lose focus during the call. This includes:
- Putting away your cell phone
- Telling your roommates or family members to keep the noise down
- Shutting your door to prevent animals from interfering
- Closing any windows that could be a source of noise
It can also be helpful to take care of some work in the time leading up to your Zoom call. If you’ve just spent the last 10 minutes responding to work emails, it’ll be easier to get into office mode than it would be if you were catching up on a podcast right before.
Don’t forget to use the mute button
Even when you’re not speaking, you could inadvertently be making noise that’s distracting the other participants on the Zoom call. That’s why it’s important to make heavy use of the mute button throughout the meeting.
For example, your microphone may pick up your movements or the sound of typing during the meeting. It could even broadcast the sounds happening outside of your window if they’re loud enough. These noises are distracting for other participants, and they’ll be annoying for those speaking as well.
That’s why it’s a good practice to get into the habit of muting yourself whenever you’re not speaking. This way, you won’t have to worry about all of the different kinds of sounds that could be broadcasted to others. It’s good Zoom etiquette, and it’s good practice for staying professional.
Improve your video settings
If you want to appear your best, it’s a good idea to take a look at your video settings before the call. You want to make sure you’re not grainy or blurred, as this can detract from the important points you’re trying to make.
Zoom has many great features that you can use to enhance your video settings. For example, you can:
- Enable HD video
- Adjust for low light
- Touch up your appearance
- Apply video filters
- Use virtual backgrounds
- Apply Studio Effects
These are all settings that you can use to make yourself appear more professional in Zoom meetings. The clearer and crisper your image, the better you’ll look throughout the call.
Focus on lighting and angle
Appearing professional on video doesn’t only boil down to adjusting your video settings. If you want to appear as professional as possible on Zoom calls, then these are two additional factors that you’ll want to keep in mind.
Experts recommend keeping one steady lamp on you directly and eliminating all sources of sidelight and backlight. Also, try not to sit with your back to the window. Otherwise, the camera will expose the light and turn you into a silhouette.
The angling of your camera is important to think about when it comes to Zoom professionalism, too. It should be pointed directly at you or slightly above you for a more flattering angle. The main thing you want to avoid is having your camera angled up at you. This isn’t a flattering angle, and you want to look your best.
Pay attention to your expression when not speaking
Many people that succeed in looking professional while actively participating in a Zoom meeting fail to do so when they’re not involved.
When you’re not speaking, the expressions that you use, the posture that you maintain, and even where you place your eyes can all have an impact on how others perceive you. This is why you should try to remain focused on the content of the meeting even when you’re not involved.
Ideally, you should try to behave just as you would in an in-office meeting when you weren’t speaking. That means making eye contact with those who do speak and nodding to show that you hear what they’re saying.
At the very least, be sure that you’re not dozing off or obviously working on something else during the meeting to maintain your sense of professionalism throughout the call.
Have a co-host for technical difficulties
If you’re hosting the Zoom meeting, then having a co-host standing by to work on technical difficulties is a must. These can derail your presentation if you have to completely stop to fix an issue and try to pick up where you left off.
If you have a co-host who can do this for you, then you can keep your focus on the presentation instead of having to completely abandon it to solve problems. By simply having a co-host, you’re showing that you have authority over the meeting, which can impact how your participants perceive you professionally.
It also shows your participants that you were prepared for anything that would happen during the call. Even presenters who do all they can to avoid technical difficulties before the meeting may still run into unexpected problems during it. That’s why it’s always better to be prepared with a co-host, even if you don’t expect any issues to come up.
Use a teleprompter app
Finally, if you want to give yourself the best chance of looking professional throughout every one of your Zoom meetings, then you should consider investing in a teleprompter app.
Virtual teleprompter apps like VODIUM give you a running script to follow at all times. This makes it much easier to stay on target with your messaging and pace as the meeting progresses. Your participants will see you as a natural speaker, and this can boost that professional image you’re trying to capture.
The virtual teleprompter can also be placed wherever you’d like. If you place it near the camera, you’ll be speaking directly to participants. Eye contact is vital for a good presentation, and this will ensure that you maintain it.
Having a virtual teleprompter on your screen will help you feel more in control of the meeting. This can have an impact on how you feel throughout the call, which could influence the perception that you give off to other participants in positive ways. By feeling in control, you can have more authority over your message.
Be an industry leader with a virtual teleprompter like VODIUM
Looking professional in your Zoom meetings is an important part of maintaining the image that you want to put out into the world. It’s especially crucial now that so many in-office meetings are taking place virtually.
VODIUM, the virtual teleprompter app, may be just what you need to achieve this.
Our product stands out by making it easier to read from your notes throughout the meeting without breaking eye contact. It’s also fully customizable so that you can set it up on your screen just the way that you need to hit your goals. Plus, it’s fully compatible with all video conferencing apps, so you can rest assured that it’ll work during your next Zoom meeting.
We’re offering a free trial of VODIUM today so that you can experience its value for yourself. Sign up to get started!