Stupid Simple Mac Tips #76 – Okay Zoomer

by | Apr 27, 2021

A pandemic propelled us to quickly become “Zoomers” without any instructions at all.  This tech kept us connected but often looking bad, sounding bad, and struggling to optimize virtual meetings.

The virus will be defeated, but office dynamics may never be as they were pre-pandemic, so it’s time to come to embrace and improve with the practice of “zooming.”

Over the next several weeks, I’m going to share three awesome apps that will improve your Zoomiverse by streamlining scheduling, automating enhancement, and preserving ideas by transcribing calls.

Before going next-level, however, let’s start with a few simple tweaks that will make you look and sound more professional.

The Zoom Boom

It’s hard to believe that one year ago, many of us had yet to embrace Zoom.

In the blink of an eye, everything changed: our world, our work, and our language. Suddenly quarantined, we all worked remotely and no longer had meetings. We “Zoomed.” 

Most weren’t ready.

As daily use of the service shot from 10M sessions to 300M, many found themselves (literally) fumbling in the dark while peeling tape from never-used webcams. Collectively, it was the most significant exposure of technical illiteracy since grandparents discovered “The Facebook.”

Ready for My Close-up

Twelve months (and one thousand Zooms) later, most have at least grasped the basics…but it’s still shocking how many participants join calls from horrible windows. It’s not your fault — you’re no videographer — but you can look/sound like one with these easy tips:

1. Set your camera just above eye level

Looking down at the camera makes us look older and overweight. Raising the lens is like an instant diet and can be the difference between Jabba and Luke.

2. Look at the camera, not your screen

It’s human nature to address someone’s face as you speak, but on Zoom, eye contact requires looking into the lens. A good trick is to position caller windows right below your camera, aligning you with both at the same time.

3. Balance your lighting

Ideally, you should be lit directly from the front to eliminate odd shadowy effects (but not so close as to cause facial glare). If your space features lighting from one side or the other, counter it with an opposite source of light.

4. Control the noise

Nothing is more distracting than background noise on a call, but not everyone has a quiet workspace – that’s why I recommended Krisp’s AI app to filter out all but your voice. (Seriously, I consider this a MUST-have)

5. Get a quality camera

Built-in webcams are pretty terrible, even in the newest Macs; if you spend considerable time on Zoom, it’s worth investing in an external camera. The improvement is vast, and the cost very reasonable — two that I recommend are the (very good) Logitech C930e ($88 @ Amazon) or the (best) 4K Logitech BRIO ($169 @ Amazon).

That’s a good start – a few minor setup adjustments that will quickly have you looking like $1,000.

Practice these steps, order a new camera, and admire your new look on the screen…then return for next week’s app, which will keep you from ever fumbling around for the Zoom link at the time of your meeting.

And if there’s anything you always wanted to know about Zoom but were afraid to ask, just shoot me an email with “Zoom” in the subject line and ask away.