Is your at-home setup working for you or against you?
By Elan Paris
March 9, 2021
Whether you’ve been FaceTiming with your grandparents or attending endless Zoom calls, we’re all learning new ways to communicate this year. But did you know that only seven per cent of what you communicate is verbal? That’s right — fully 93 per cent of how we relay information is non-verbal in nature. Thirty-eight per cent is vocal (meaning tone of voice and pitch of speech) with 55 per cent being visual. How you appear to others as you speak, and the way in which you speak, is much more impactful than the actual words that you use.
So how do you ensure that you’re being seen and heard properly? If you’re feeling overlooked and less influential on Zoom meetings lately, or are leaving online encounters slightly deflated, don’t despair. It may not be that you’ve lost your spark. Instead, it just might be time for an audit and update of your audio visual equipment. Is it helping you or hindering you?
Here are three top tips to guide you to becoming a more dynamic communicator online.
Check 1, 2
Think about a time when you were on a video call and someone had a low-quality microphone. How frustrating was that for the listener? Whether you’re in a team meeting, client-facing role or even speaking at a virtual conference, it’s a good idea to step up your microphone game. You need to sound like a pro to project a pro’s image. Here are our microphone recommendations:
- Go for a USB microphone. For the best audio, we recommend purchasing something like this.
- A mic you can mount close to your mouth is even better. Check this out if that’s more your style.
- If you want to look really professional, you can kick it up a notch. We recommend this microphone.
- Get set up like a TV anchor. Finally, if you’re going for a discrete look, this is the way to go.
And when it comes to headphones, avoid sporting a massive headset. Try something like this instead.
Work with the sun, don’t fight it
If you’ve ever wondered why some of your colleagues or clients appear so much clearer on camera, it might be because they have a ring light. However, when the sun is shining through a window behind you on a sunny day, even the best light won’t help to deflect it. You’ll need to play with your window coverings to get the right shadow effect.
Opt for a room or desk light with a range that adjusts from very bright to minimal, depending on your need of the hour. Something like this should do the trick. If you’re willing to make the investment in a higher-end light, here’s our recommendation.
It’s all in the details
Look around your office. Does it convey the right impression? We’re used to looking at our same surroundings every day so we might not be conscious of how it appears to others. You wouldn’t invite important guests into your home without cleaning up first. The same effort needs to be made when meeting online with colleagues or clients. The right setup will go far to improve your appearance on camera:
- Have your laptop at eye level. If you don’t have a laptop stand, pile books or place a box underneath your computer to move it to the correct height.
- Don’t have a window behind you or beside you. If possible, use the window as your light source and have it directly facing you.
- Make sure your ceiling lights aren’t in view. This is an easy way to make your setup appear more professional, so be sure to do a quick check before joining a call.
- Select an appealing background. Whatever your home environment, it’s not always possible to quickly declutter your background before a call. We love our children and pets, but full transparency can be a real challenge. Give yourself a break and make use of your video conferencing software’s features of built-in backgrounds or background blurring. Remember that your face needs to be the dominant visual in the frame, so be sure to choose a background that won’t detract from your power position.
Now you’re set to communicate like a pro
Your audience will take notice of you now! Working from home shouldn’t reduce your effectiveness in meetings as long as you have the right tools to make sure you are communicating in the best way possible. Set yourself up for success. Happy Zooming!
Image credit: Ken Tomita / Pexels
About Elan Paris
Since graduating from Capilano University with a degree in Communication and Media Studies, Elan has honed her skills as a researcher, critical thinker and problem solver in sectors ranging from fintech and health-tech to blockchain and finance. Elan thrives on both workplace and fitness improvement – she volunteers at a spin studio in her spare time – and has her sights set on completing a marathon one day.