We all want to feel more confident and less anxious on Zoom. Let’s face it a couple of years ago, if someone had told us we’d be spending so much time on Zoom, Skype, or Teams, we wouldn’t have believed them! And now here we are, all over other people screens!
The first time I used Zoom I have to admit I was in a bit of a panic. It was at the beginning of Covid and I was used to working with people face to face, in physiotherapy clinics and in their homes. So my first time online was a really big deal for me. I felt tense and anxious, which is no good for someone who teaches other people how to feel great at the computer! I soon came to see that everyone else was having the same problems as well – worrying about how they looked, about the room and their background, and generally being tense and on edge! But it didn’t take me long to get over it. I just had to follow my own advice!
I’m one of the lucky ones. Many of us still struggle with confidence on Zoom Skype or Teams. Luckily the very same process, that we use to help people improve their posture at a desk works perfectly for helping people overcome ‘Zoom Tension’ and ‘Zoom Anxiety’, leaving you looking and feeling much better.
HERE ARE OUR TOP 5 SECRETS TO HELP YOU LOOK AND FEEL MORE CONFIDENT AND LESS ANXIOUS ON ZOOM, SKYPE, TEAMS, OR YOUR VIDEO-CHAT WEBCONFERENCE SOFTWARE
SECRET NUMBER ONE: HOW TO FEEL CONFIDENT ON ZOOM
First of all, remember you aren’t alone!
Everybody else is worried about how they look, too. We’re all in the same boat, and frankly they’re more worried about how they look, than how you look!
A study by Foreo suggests that 91 percent of us tend to look at ourselves more than other people on video calls. But there’s really no need to look at your own face – you can choose different views on each of the video chat platforms, so it just shows the other people. If you struggle with seeing yourself, you can always put a post-it note over the screen!
If you’re in control of your own work schedule try to take a walk outside in your garden or local park a little before your zoom session which will give you a healthy glow and make you seem much less stressed than if you have just come out of a previous call.
When you don’t have the opportunity to take breaks between calls I recommend switching to a sit stand desk like this so that you can move around. Standing for a zoom call makes you seem more confident and gives you a greater range of movement.
You really don’t want to be sitting down all day, it will take its toll on your health, on your posture, and on your levels of happiness. So even if you just have a normal desk, be confident enough to stand up, and don’t be afraid to say “I’m going to stand up and stretch for a while whilst we talk because I’ve been sitting here for a long time”. Nobody minds. They want you to feel comfortable too.
If you’re worried about your posture or it hurts to work at your desk, check out our 5 best ways to improve your posture working from home.
SECRET NUMBER TWO: HOW TO LOOK CONFIDENT ON ZOOM
Some handy hints for looking good are…
Consider getting some better lighting if your picture looks washed out – webcams are getting better with low light but still have a long way to go.
Natural light is your friend. It can work wonders, so try to be by a window. Just be sure that you can still see the screen without the light from the window making your screen seem too dark for you. You can even invest in a light-ring to sit behind your webcam, like the models and influencers do. But whatever you do, don’t sit with a bright window behind you, you’ll look too spooky!
Be sure to avoid fluorescent lighting, it can leave you looking washed-out. This goes hand-in-hand with avoiding being lit from above, which can give you shadows under your eyes.
The best height for your webcam is at eye level. If the lens is too low it can make your eyes look baggy or your chin look funny, and who wants to look up your nose? My laptop’s webcam is at the bottom of the screen – a big no-no! And if the lens is too high, you’ll look like you’re looking down for the whole time! It’s easy and affordable to get a separate webcam – go on, treat yourself! If you can’t afford a stand for it, use anything, books, kitchen roll tubes, anything!
As for clothes, avoid plain colours like black white or grey, and instead try to brighten up your appearance and accessorise for some added vavavoom! Avoid narrow stripes if you can, these can confuse cameras.
Dressing properly for a meeting isn’t just for the benefit of your other viewers, feeling confident in the clothes you wear will help you to feel more confident too.
Have a top and a jacket or blazer ready on your chair in case you need to jump on quickly.
Why not make some brief notes before your web call with key points that you wish to say, and have them propped up in front of your screen: no-one else will know they’re there.
Get used to the way you look on web conferences without worrying too much about filters as you won’t have the time to add filters each time, like you may do on other social media channels. People like you because of who you are. They are less interested in you having perfect appearance, and worrying less about your appearance will make you come across as a happier and more confident person.
I’m no expert on makeup and hair (trust me!) but I can say that no-one’s going to see the back of you, so just concentrate on getting your hair good at the front, and maybe a little colour for lips and cheeks if that’s your thing – but don’t ask me any more than that!
SECRET NUMBER 3: HOW TO SOUND CONFIDENT ON ZOOM
Your posture and breathing are going to help you look, feel and sound more confident.
You can also practise breathing exercises which are readily available all over the internet and in our courses.
Make sure that your laptop is set at a good height using a laptop or monitor stand, a pile of books or some sheets of paper. Or use a separate screen. This is really important, otherwise you will end up with a sore neck staring down at your laptop screen which is going to make you tense and tired. That’s not a look you want!
If you do raise your laptop (you should!) then be sure to invest in a keyboard and mouse so you can use them independently of the screen. Investing in a good computer monitor and a webcam is a lot more affordable than it used to be – go on, treat yourself!
I like to have a cup of tea or a glass of water handy when I’m taking a zoom meeting. It’s good for your voice and also gives you something to do and to enjoy. Whatever you do don’t eat your lunch in the middle of a web conference. Nobody will thank you for that!
You can warm up your voice easily before a web call, use tongue twisters, sing your favourite song, do some yodelling, whatever works for you!
SECRET NUMBER FOUR: HOW TO MAKE YOUR ROOM LOOK GOOD ON ZOOM
Most video conference software now allows you to change your background, so you could choose something you feel comfortable with. This works best if you have a plain background behind you, so bear that in mind. A blank wall can suddenly become a beautiful sunset or a cleverly lit library.
You can get green screens that simply slip into place over the back of your chair, they make it easier for the webcam to remove the background and replace it.
It’s probably best to keep most personal items away from your background. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have found myself browsing through someone’s bookshelf rather than listening to what they have to say.
If you’re short of space, hang fabric behind you to mask the room.
For those of you with plenty of space, make up a video room, or even a video corner, where everything’s set up and good to go, reducing the hassle of hiding the laundry and clearing the clutter.
SECRET NUMBER FIVE: ZOOM ETIQUETTE
It’s considered bad form to leave a meeting without letting people know, just like in real life, as they won’t know if or when you are coming back, so be sure to either let them know in the chat window or by telling them yourself verbally.
There’s nothing wrong with turning off your camera and microphone if you need to nip to the toilet or to get yourself a drink, and it’s not unusual to have to go to the door to receive a parcel if you’re working at home, so don’t worry about that, everybody should understand.
We all love eye contact so if you have something important to say to someone be sure to look at the lens of your webcam rather than at their image on the screen, because looking at the screen makes it look like you’re looking down generally but looking at the webcam gives people the impression that you are speaking straight to them.
Be sure to smile with your mouth and your eyes! You could pretend you’re talking to just one person, a good friend, as you look at the lens. It’ll come across as much more approachable! You can even put a photo of your pet or someone you really get on with behind the webcam.
I like to have a silent clock, digital or one that doesn’t tick, at the base of my screen so I can easily see what time it is without squinting to the bottom of the screen to see the time on Windows or Mac.
If you can, put your phone on ‘do not disturb’ or airplane mode – you won’t get distracted by it, which people can see, and it won’t make annoying noises.
It’s easy to mute yourself with these applications, so be sure to take advantage of that remembering to unmute yourself if you need to speak so that other people aren’t distracted by other noises, especially children, dogs, or the road outside. Particularly watch out for typing on your keyboard as it can be noisy if it’s near the webcam, and nobody wants to hear you stomping around on your keyboard like an elephant
Do a test run – call someone you know, or even just start your own empty session. I do this at the start of every day to make sure everything is working as it should, and nothing is hiding behind me to cause embarrassment!
Moving your webcam around can make people feel sea-sick! Unless you’re on one of our home posture or home ergonomics courses, there’s no need to shift your camera around: Apart from one! If you’re on a call with one or maybe two people, and your webcam is over one one side of the screen and the person is over the other, go ahead and shift the webcam to be over on their side – you’ll look like you’re giving them much more attention!
That’s it for our Top 5 Secrets to help you look and feel more confident and less anxious on zoom, skype, teams, or your video-chat webconference software.