Today I’m going to give you my top 10 tips and tricks to make you look great on Zoom camera, and for also, for your students to get the most out of your online teaching experience. So let me take you through each one step by step. My favorite one, the best one, the most important one, is Number 10, so wait ’til the very end of this article so you don’t miss that tip.
Tip Number 1 that I’m going to give you is to find a quiet space. I actually created one of my guest rooms into my home office when I started transitioning to teaching mostly online the past year or so, but really the past three or four months, it’s all been online, as I’m sure many of you out there as well are experiencing right now. So find a quiet space. If you can’t transform a room that you already have, see if you can find a small corner or a nook area, or a space that’s going to be quiet and private, so you don’t have any distractions.
Another great idea is to tell everybody in your family, “Hey, for the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be recording some videos for my students,” or “I’m going to be spending an hour session on Zoom with my students, so I need utter quiet. Everybody go pop in your earbuds, go in your own separate rooms, because I need this time. “find a space that you have just a desk, just out what you need, and so not only is it quiet in an audible sense, but it creates a quiet sense for you when you’re working so that you can stay focused on your students And on recording, which sometimes gives us some anxiety and stress, so quiet space, quiet mind.
Tip Number 2 is going to be the background of your space. In my home office, I created this awesome shelf from Ikea, extremely inexpensive, and I have all of the things I need, so if I need to reach over and grab something from my class or a textbook, I’ve got them accessible right here if it’s a live class and I need to grab something really quickly. But you’ll notice that, visually, it’s really simple, it’s really clean. I don’t have a lot of things that distract the student. A lot of black boxes hide everything, and you can create this with almost anything that you have already right now at your house, so really simple background. If you want to use a blank wall or a curtain, anything that you have that’s going to simplify your background, or also something that could just make it more interesting to your students, but remember, keep it simple and keep it minimal. Another great idea that you can do is if you’re using Zoom, to use the virtual background options. And I did a video on Zoom, I’ll link it up in the cards for you right here, that tells you everything you need to know about Zoom and how to use those virtual backgrounds.
Tip Number 3 is the angle of your computer. Now this one is extremely important. For example, many folks we see teaching classes, we see them pop up, and literally, it looks like this. They’re looking up at an angle, they’re looking up into, eh, yeah. It’s just not the most flattering, and keep in mind, the students are looking at you across the camera, and they’re getting the same up angle for who knows how long that you’re talking to them or whatever you’re recording. The first thing is the angle of your actual camera. Most of us are using our laptop, and we’re using, see, if you’re using a desktop version, it should be fine, but if you’re using a laptop, you want the camera angle to be flat. So keep the side of your computer as straight up and 90 degrees that you can. Then make adjustments wherever you are. For example, one of my favorite things is taking your chair and lowering it all the way down to the bottom angle.
Already right now, I can set straight up so my back isn’t hurting all day after teaching for eight hours online, and also the students are now getting a more level angle, my face to the camera. You really want the camera to be eye-level if you can, or even a little, maybe perhaps above you Versus below you. Another option you can do here is, you can even see that I put a notebook Underneath my laptop to give it a little more lift. That way I can sit at my desk, I can sit up nice and tall, and I still have access to the keypad if I’m doing something on Zoom and I still need to access it, I can have that access without hurting my wrist and having to move it. I’ve seen a lot a people really stack their computer up really high underneath couple boxes, which does give you that front angle. If you are the working on your laptop at the same time that you’re videoing, and it’s like Zoom or Skype or what not, you wanna have access to the keypad, and I didn’t want to reach this way. So this has been helpful for me. Also, it does it at an angle as well.
Tip Number 4 is light. Now in my office, I made sure that I was next to a window that has a lot of natural light. It’s cloudy right now as I’m recording this, so I don’t even have much natural light. I also have a fancy ring light that is my new favorite friend that I use all the time. But I’m gonna show you the difference, and if you wanna purchase something, you can, But you don’t really have to. So for example, let’s say I turn off the ring light. So this is what it looks like with just natural light. This is what it looks like from the students’ version. There is least some light on my face. I would say record and film as much as you can during the day when the light is the brightest. Or if you’re doing Zoom sessions, again, during the day with the brightest light. Another thing you can do is create your space where your desk or the area that you’re working at is right in front of the window so the light is literally coming on to your face. You don’t want it behind you; I do have a lamp over here. But you want the light coming on to your face. Now my favorite friend is the ring light, because it looks completely different. So here’s the ring light on again (snaps). Ta-da! The ring light is such a magical wonder.
All of a sudden it looks bright and light no matter what time of the day it is. This ring light’s like 100 bucks on Amazon. I will throw one up here for you as well so you can see what it looks like. They’re really inexpensive. There are some great deals out there, especially right now. But if you are gonna be doing a lot of online teaching, I highly suggest a ring light, otherwise, lots of natural light, as much as you can get in your quiet space.
Tip Number 5 is your attire. Now you can tell right now, I took a shower, I fixed my hair, I put some makeup on, and I put a colorful comfy shirt on. Really, they’re mostly only gonna see you from the bottom up, so I would say wear your comfy pants and your slippers underneath, but make sure it’s something colorful. You can see right now, they can see me. When they turn the computer on, I can wave and say hi to them, and I am ready and I feel good. And I always say, when you teach, if you feel good, you’re going to exude that to your students as well and you’re going to energize them, and we really wanna keep that in mind.
So it’s not just about the students. It’s about you and how you feel on camera. So let yourself feel good, put on your favorite top, put on something that makes you feel really energized and shows you off, and keep in mind that that energy is going to then go across to your students when you’re recording. So if you’re going casual and comfortable, just try to spiff it up a bit. Brush your hair, I don’t know who needs to hear this, but brush your teeth, because the students may not smell your breath, but again, you want to feel good for your students, so dress it up a bit.
Tip Number 6 is headphones. Now if you are just recording something to send to your students,
Like a message or an assignment or a lecture, you don’t need headphones. But if you are using Zoom, then you definitely want to have headphones. I use my Air Pods because they are easy and they are quick. Again, time savers are always more important to me right now than the best thing. So my Air Pods are great. Any headphone that you have that is going to go into your computer,
That’s going to allow you to hear via Zoom or Skype or whatever system you’re using, is great.
You can also pull out your big headphones and your students will think you’re really fancy,
Especially if you have younger students and do the whole big headphone thing.
This is great as well if you are trying to block out sound from your house so that you can focus, again, in your quiet space. So whatever headphones you need to use that you have already, just use them. I would also tell you encourage your students to use headphones as well if you are doing a one-on-one or a group session. It’s just way better quality.
Tip Number 7 is going to be your microphone. Now if you’re using your computer, you already have a built-in microphone that works great. So you don’t have to really worry about it if that is just the level that you’re at right now. But if you wanna up your level, your game on online teaching, get an external microphone.
A USB will plug straight into your computer, which is what I’m using right here. I got this one on Amazon a few weeks ago, and I absolutely love it. I’ll put the link in for you below, but it’s a Fifine, F-I-F-I-N-E. It comes with this arm, and all I have to do is plug it into my computer, start recording or start a lesson with my students, and it’s amazing. It sounds so much better, especially if you’re singing or talking at a high level, or if you’re doing anything that’s more artistically, creatively inclined.
Tip Number 8 is focus. So when you are recording or talking to your students via online sessions, you want to be able to focus on them and make sure that they still feel like you’re there. So when you’re talking to them, talk directly into the camera, just like I’m doing right now. If you start to look at yourself on your screen, like on Zoom or what not, they’re not gonna get your eye level like you see right now. So look directly at them so they feel like you are focused on them and that is a very one-on-one conversation, even if you’re in a group Zoom session.
Tip Number 9 is posture. If you have already set up your space where you can sit tall, your posture is gonna not only be helpful for your students that are watching you or your colleagues or whoever you’re meeting with online, but for yourself. We are sitting quite a lot. If you can stand and set up your desk that way, super helpful, but I have really found that it’s more comfortable for me to sit,
And then I get up on my breaks in between. But you want to have a tall posture so that the students see it versus this, right? This is not as (laughs), not as nice to look at quite often, unless you’re just hanging out. But it gives you that professional appearance. Also it really helps force you to sit on your sits bones and keep your back straight, which, in the long run, is gonna help your health teaching online eight hours a day.
Tip Number 10 and the last one and the most important one that I really think that you should make sure you’re including is energy. If a student turns on the camera, and they’re talking just like this, it’s not as exciting to them as what I’ve been doing with you the past 10 minutes. (Upbeat electronic music) Exuding that energy and creating that positive atmosphere for your students
In this virtual online classroom is extremely helpful. It gives them the bump that they need to want to log on and be engaged with you and your personality.
So up that energy level, engage those students in whatever time that you have with them, and try to bring some happiness and light into their life, because we could all use that right now, I’m sure. It will definitely make you feel comfortable as well. It’s a little extra work, but it really makes a big difference, and it will help not only the students, but it will help your positive energy as well.
So I hope these tips have helped you. If you need anything else, leave me a comment below. Tell me how you’re doing your classes and your online teaching, what challenges you’re discovering and how I can be of help to you.
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