Introvert’s Guide To Feeling Comfy on Zoom
Including: How to turn on Zoom’s hidden Fountain of Youth Filter.
by Thea Fiore-Bloom, Ph.D
I want to get on a Zoom call just about as much as I want an IRS audit, a gum scaling, or a “Six Pack Abs” workout.
Why do I avoid Zoom? Well, like you, I’m an introvert.
Most of us creatives are.
And that’s a good thing.
Because our job as creatives is to dive into the deep blue – camp out there and send messages back to the surface about what we’ve seen or heard.
Yet now the times dictate that we race up out of the depths, slam our dripping wet diving helmets on the desk — and get on a Zoom call?
Are you kidding me?
But Anais Ninn had a point when she said; “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
So let’s get the skinny on how to look, sound, and even feel good on a Zoom call.
Come check out the 5 road-tested tips I discovered. I bet they’ll work wonders for you too.
Zoom Call Tip 1:
Get a Big ‘Ole Stack of Books
Don’t want to look like Jabba the Hutt?
Then don’t let anyone (including you) film you from a low vantage point.
Grab a big ‘ole stack of books and put them under your laptop. Stack until the camera is at, or a little above, your seated eye level.
The good news? You’ll look way thinner!
The bad news? If you haven’t chosen the right window or added the right lighting, you still may feel you look 112 years old and want to chuck it all.
Never fear, we can fix this, keep reading.
Zoom Call Tip 2:
Find Your Dream Window
Natural light from the front is key to not looking like a serial killer on zoom.
Side lighting will shade half your face making you look like an eclipse; not a good look either.
But whatever you do, don’t place your set up with the window behind you! Trust me, I tried this. I looked like a talking silhouette in the witness protection program.
If possible, place a makeshift desk a few feet in front of a sheer curtained window.
If you don’t have a good front-facing window or that window is in the wrong place in your house (i.e. it’s in a place with bad internet reception, or it’s in the path your grandkids usually ride the dog through), you’ll have to go with plan B.
Plan B: Set up your desk in a quieter, darker place and plunk down a plain old table lamp close to or behind your laptop computer or smartphone.
Take the lampshade off and turn it on. Voila, cheapo stage lighting.
If you test this out on Zoom, you will see you look way better, maybe you’ll feel only …88 years old.
No worries, we’re not done yet!
Zoom Tip Three:
Artificial Light Can Be Your New Best Friend
If the lamp sans shade didn’t do it for you, get a lovely, youth-inducing, dimmable, ring light for under twenty-five bucks. (Make sure you’re not facing a ring light right on, or it will create weird circles in your pupils.)
The ring light I love comes with a free wee tripod and a built-in clamp your smartphone clips into (in case you want to be perfectly lit when you Zoom call on your phone instead of a computer.)
Oh, I’ve also heard wrapping some cheap fairy lights around your phone may also help.
Watch Rena Hedeman’s video below if need someone to walk you through all the info on lighting:
I bet by now, you are looking better (which only matters because it has the effect of making YOU feel more comfortable and confident.)
But wait, there’s more.
Now you are ready for the pièce de résistance, what I call, the fountain of youth filter.
Zoom Call Bonus Tip
The Fountain of Youth Lighting Setting
If Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon stumbled on this button in his search for the fountain of youth in Florida in the 1500’s he might have felt the expedition wasn’t a total waste of time after all.
You just need to switch on the “Touch Up My Appearance” setting on Zoom to look dewy, glowy, and fabulous without much makeup. Watch this super short video from Sheryl Plouffe to find out how:
Okay, by now, you look fabulous. But what’s the use of looking great if you sound terrible?
Zoom Call Tip 4 :
Wanna Sound Good? Get a Good, Inexpensive Mic
The Zoom techs have done a lot to make you sound ok just talking into the mic built into your iPhone or laptop.
But if you want to sound a smidge better, try popping on those earbuds that came with your phone. You know, the ones that have that white rectangular microphone built into them? (See photo to left.)
But want to sound silky and respectable for classes, interviews, and the like? Use a USB microphone. There are dozens of high-quality /low-price options, and they’re easy to set up.
I use the Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone for podcasting as well as Zoom. It plugs right into the port on the side of my mac.
For a helpful, short video that simply explains techy aspects of better-sounding zoom calls, go here.
Let’s finish up by talking about how to feel less nervous on Zoom.
Zoom Call Tip 5:
Make it Sacred
The other tips thus far have dealt with surface details to help you look and sound good.
But I did promise to address how to feel good, especially if you’re teaching anything to others on a Zoom call.
So here’s my answer for introverts like us: after we get the tech stuff taken care of, we need to change the focus from outer to inner.
We need to try to make it sacred.
By that, I mean at some point, we have to stop running around with our hair on fire worried if people will approve of us or not.
Instead, we need to focus on what our imperfect but beautiful heart wants to say that might help a few other imperfect but beautiful hearts out there that might be listening.
What can you communicate to your audience that will help them understand how to approach something differently or help them get through a difficult time?
Okay, hope those tips give you the support you might need to shine on Zoom.
Over To You: What Do You Think?
Do you love Zoom? Hate Zoom?
Got any tech questions? Lay ’em on me.
Got any zoom tips? I’d love to know in the comments below.
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