With the start of Fall 2020 rapidly approaching, you have surely prepared and modified your syllabi, online class materials, synchronous tasks, asynchronous assignments as well as assessments and evaluation methods. How much time have you spent thinking about your Zoom class sessions? Have you wondered what it takes to achieve a perfect Zoom class session every time? Unless you were teaching online via Zoom before March 2020, you probably did not need to use Zoom often and you may not know what to look out for to enjoy a great Zoom meeting. Experts who have always been managing their work using Zoom have some tips for us!
10 Tips that will Help You Experience a Perfect Zoom Meeting Every Time:
Good lighting, experts say is very important during Zoom meetings. It will help your students see your face easily and clearly. The best part is that you do not need fancy lighting equipment to achieve good lighting. Most experts say, all you have to do is sit in front of a window and let natural light do all the hard work.
- Perfect camera angle.
In order for the camera not to distort your face to body proportions you need to make sure to place it at the perfect angel, experts say. To achieve this, you need to make sure that the lens of your camera is placed a little above your eye level. If – like most of us- you are using the camera in your laptop, you need to tilt the camera a little towards you as pushing your laptop camera away from you will give the illusion that your head is larger than your body.
- Computer Position.
Placing your computer too far or too close to you during your Zoom session can also result in a distorted image. Experts advise of placing the computer itself at arm’s length where it is far enough from your face, but also close enough for you to reach the keyboard and the mouse when needed.
- Sound better, Look better.
Experts agree that in an online class setting it is important to make sure that you sound crisp, clear and professional like. If your students can hear you well, experts emphasize, they will “see” you well. Therefore, they advise of using an external mic especially if you have indeed placed your computer at arm’s length as suggested above.
- Audible distractions.
To make sure you sound good, you also need to minimize audible distractions. These can be in the form of pets or background sounds. Selecting a quite location in your home or office is one way to reduce audible distractions, experts say. If you are teaching from home, keeping your pet away from your work zone is another way.
- Eye contact.
Now that your students can see you well and hear you clearly, you need to make sure to maintain eye contact with them during your class session. During the class meeting most of us, experts say, will have a tab where we can see our students. The trick, they add, is not to look at students in this tab, rather look directly into the camera lens as this will give the impression that you are looking them directly in the eye. Placing your camera a bit above eye level (point 2 above) ensures that you look close to natural as you look into the camera lens.
During your Zoom class session your students will be looking at you and listening to what you are saying. However, you are not the only thing they will be seeing. They will inevitably have a view to whatever is behind you. Therefore, expert advice to be vigilant of what is in the background. Firstly, they stress that the background should not include private aspects of your life. Second, they also stress that your background should not be distracting them from the class session. Finally, it should also not be completely boring. If this seems like a difficult balance to strike, then perhaps it is worth considering the virtual backgrounds that Zoom offers. Some instructors actually use these virtual backgrounds to connect it to the contents of their class. If you are still finding it hard to pick, Unsplash has a great variety of virtual backgrounds for you to consider (click here)
- Running tabs.
Just as you don’t want your students to be distracted during your class session, you also should be completely present. Hence, expert advise to close all running tabs on your computer that are not directly related to the class you are teaching then. At the same time make sure that all relevant tabs (videos form YouTube, or online group activity) are ready and open on your desktop especially if you plan on sharing them on your screen.
- Put a little bit of effort into your look.
Whether you are teaching form home or from your office, experts say, you need to make sure that you never neglect putting a little bit of effort into your looks. You need not, they emphasize, go overboard. Nevertheless, you need to maintain a professional appearance which will in turn help your students retain the feeling of being in a classroom setting even though it is virtual.
- Pay attention to your posture. Consider teaching standing.
Last but certainly not least you need to pay attention to your posture during your Zoom class sessions. Keeping an upright posture will not only help you stay active and energized during a long day of teaching, but it will also help your students stay engaged as they listen to you during class session. You might also consider standing as you teach sometimes. Standing and teaching is known to have a number of positive effects on learning such increasing students engagement, focus and attention (read full article here, Page 12).
No class session is ever perfect and there is always room to learn and improve. I confess that as I was researching, reading, and creating this list of ten tips for the perfect Zoom session, some certainly seemed like they made perfect common sense. Others were not ones that I had considered or thought of! Have you been following all ten tips during your class session? Which ones have you got under control? Which do you struggle with? Do you think you have more tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
If you want to learn more, see resource list below.
Resources consulted for writing this piece:
Consider The Physical Elements
Consider the Physical Environment as You Teach Online (CT COLT, World Language News Exchange, page 12)