Zoom Meeting Tips for Effective Pitches

Photo by Gabriel Benois

With everyone staying safe at home due to covid-19, you’ve likely had to use Zoom, Google Hangouts or another video conferencing platform for meetings. But how can you put your best foot forward in these situations? Here are our Zoom meeting tips to help you nail that pitch or snag that job!

Hold a practice Zoom meeting

If you’ve never used Zoom or Google Hangouts before, do a practice session with a friend or family member. This way you’ll feel comfortable with the software before having to use it in front of an important industry contact. Make sure you download anything you need to and understand how the basic controls work. Also check to make sure your internet bandwith can support videoconferencing (Zoom requires 800kbps/1.0Mbps (up/down) for high quality video). If you’re having issues, uncheck the box that says “Enable HD” under Settings > Video.

Choose the right location

I like to do all of my Zoom meetings facing a window so that my face is well-lit (in flattering light)! Never sit with a window behind you or you’ll be back-lit and shadowy. You could also purchase a ring light. Try out different places in your house or apartment so that you can find the best light.

Also avoid busy or messy backgrounds that can be distracting. You don’t necessarily have to have a perfectly curated bookcase with books organized by color… but if your fellow Zoom participants are looking at dirty towels and takeout boxes, they may not get the best impression.

Try Zoom Virtual Backgrounds

To have fun with Zoom virtual backgrounds, you can use a green screen (or sheet or blanket – I use a blue picnic blanket nailed to my kitchen wall). Different phones and computers have different capabilities, so under Settings > Virtual background to see yours. Zoom will automatically detect the color of your background, but you can also manually select the right color behind you to get the best result. Be aware that changing lighting will change the effectiveness of the background (so you may not want to use a virtual background if you’re by a window just before dusk). Also, don’t wear a shirt the same color as the wall or sheet behind you, or you will blend into the image.

You can basically save any image from the internet as your virtual background – action shots of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker in Fast 5, rolling hills in Napa Valley, whatever you want! Many sites have also unveiled pop culture-themed Zoom backgrounds, such as these fun ones from Parks & Recreation.

Choose a virtual background ahead of time and make sure it works – you don’t want to waste time or distract attendees figuring this out during a serious meeting.

Keep your camera steady and find the right angle

One of the best Zoom meeting tips is pretty simple: if you’re using your phone for your Zoom meeting, use a tripod or lean it against something like a sturdy book. Don’t simply hold your phone as you chat – you will get tired of this, and your attendees might get dizzy. Similarly, don’t put your laptop on your lap, since it’ll always be shifting around. Set it on a table, desk or something stationary.

If you are sitting at a table or desk, you may also want to set your laptop on a large book (or pile of something) so that it’s up higher and straight across from your face. If your camera is too low, you’ll have to bend your laptop screen back, creating an awkward angle. You don’t want the meeting attendees to feel like they’re below you.

Look at the camera

Of course you want to look at your fellow meeting participants, but especially if you’re giving a pitch, look into the camera! This way, you’ll be making eye contact. Try resizing and moving your Zoom browser around your screen so that the other person’s face is as close to your camera as possible. You can switch between Speaker View, Gallery View, etc for the option that makes the most sense with your group.

Don’t look at yourself! It’s tempting to look at your own video feed to scrutinize your hair or expression. However, this means you won’t be making eye contact, and you also might get flustered or self-conscious. Sometimes it’s best to hide your own video – you can even minimize zoom completely and look at your pitch document on the screen instead. Your attendees won’t know!

Also, if you’re worried about how you look, you can check the box “Touch Up My Appearance” under Settings > Video. It’s like an airbrush filter.

Go Easy on Yourself

Finally, remember that you don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if things don’t go exactly as planned even if you follow all the Zoom meeting tips. We’re all just trying to get through this!

Lessons and Tips

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