There’s a famous scene in Terminator 2 Judgement Day when Sarah Connor asks her son John how many police are outside the Cyberdyne building they’re about to blow up. He responds, “All of them, I think.”
How many work-from-home (WFH) capable employees are working from home? All of them?
According to a recent podcast episode of Workology (which I edit), Jeff Wald, co-founder, and President of WorkMarket told host Jessica Miller Merrell that if every single person that could work remote was working remote, that would be 42% of the workforce. According to Jeff, 40% are. That’s very close to “all of them.” This brings me to this: a Zoom survival guide. Do you have an IT department in your house? Probably not. Are you living on Zoom, Skype, or a similar video conferencing platform? If you’re WFH, probably.
Like many of us, 100% of my business changed overnight. From filming events and interviews at companies and conferences to recording interviews via Zoom Meetings. I recently started working with a New York City community theatre group to produce a virtual version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” a radio play. Since I’m the technical director and video editor, I realized I needed to get the acting troupe up-to-Zoom speed. So, here’s a list of tools, tech, and tips to elevate your Zooming, and make it a much more productive and enjoyable experience. Oh. If you’re in job search mode? Your interview will be conducted via video. You want to look good, sound good, and feel comfortable in front of your webcam.
Most important: Connect your computer directly to your cable modem using an ethernet Cat6 cable. Many newer laptops no longer have an ethernet port so you will need to purchase an adapter. Typically, these cost around $10.00 on Amazon, where you can find Cat6 cables of all different lengths. With everyone on WIFI, this is really important when trying to stream live video. If you are experiencing delayed audio when they’re speaking, buffering, and other glitches, an ethernet connection is the easiest way to remedy that headache. Cat6 ethernet cables come in various lengths and can be found on Amazon. For instance, a 25 ft cable is $11.84.
Height Adjustable Desk: If you are considering purchasing a desk for your home, I would recommend one that will allow you to stand part of the day. It’s good for your health, and during Zoom calls you’ll be more engaged. Ward Christman co-founder of HR Tech Alliances. has a standing desk, which allows for a more animated conversation. You can find adjustable desks starting at around $300.00. Google it. There are hundreds of them.
You want to get your webcam camera lens eye level – so you’re looking directly into the camera lens. If you’re using the camera on a laptop computer, an easy way to do this is with an adjustable laptop stand – about $30 on Amazon https://amzn.to/3boIW1b. You don’t want people looking up your nose at your ceiling during your Zoom meetings.
Lighting: The simplest way to make sure you look good on-camera is with a ring light. I like this one, that cost $40 on Amazon https://amzn.to/3lHvCtx — as a bonus, it comes with a stand and a bracket to hold your smartphone (your teenagers will love this!) A ring light will create a nice, soft, diffused lighting on your face. Remember, overhead lights create “racoon” eyes. Also, think about the background: You don’t want a window with bright sunlight behind you… it will “blow out” the background, you webcam aperture will try and adjust for the brightness and you’ll become dark and muddy.
External audio. Using your computer’s microphone for recording does not work well. It picks up too much of the room’s ambient noise (especially if you have kids and/or dogs running around in the background), and has an echo effect like you’re speaking in a tunnel. The easiest solution: your earbuds, or AirPods. But again, depending on your computer model, you may need to purchase an adapter to plug your smartphone earbuds into your audio jack. A USB headset is a great solution since many of them come with noise-cancelling microphones, like this one, a nice, lightweight noise-cancelling USB headset.
Camera: Newer laptops and desktop computer/monitors have pretty good cameras. Of course, there are a lot of external webcams available that offer HD quality and versatility. Here’s one, a Vitade HD 1080p (meaning its high definition). These cameras not only offer a higher resolution image, the ability to adjust the brightness, framing, and other controls, but the flexibility to place it independently from your computer. A number of webcams (like Logitech), do not have software for Mac computers, but if you’re on a Mac go to the App store and download the free Webcam Settings app, and you’ll be able to adjust the picture to your liking. If you do have an external webcam, I recommend getting a mini tripod.
Finally, here are a couple of additional resources you’ll find on YouTube:
Andrew Yang. Yang Speaks – Communicate Like a Pro with Michael Chad Hoeppner
Zoom Meeting Controls. Get a Quick Introduction to the basic meeting controls available on Zoom Calls.