Video platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become an integral part of everyday communication. Even as people return to the office, the hybrid working approach remains popular. With a recent LinkedIn survey showing that 41% of people think how you look and sound on calls is crucial for your career, it’s vital to portray yourself well on video calls.

Napier recently held a webinar ‘How to Look the Ultimate Professional on Zoom and Teams’ with on-camera coach Luke Westwood, and explored:

  • Why good quality sound and video is vital
  • How small background changes make a big impact
  • Tips on how to have the optimal set up for online meetings
  • Easy ways to make your calls look like a professional video production

Register to view our webinar on demand by clicking here, and why not get in touch to let us know if our insights helped you.

Napier Webinar: ‘How to Look the Ultimate Professional on Zoom and Teams’ Transcript

Speakers: Luke Westwood, Mike Maynard

Mike: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the latest webinar from Napier. Today I’m joined by Luke Westwood. Luke is a zoom coach. So his job is really focused around making people look like the ultimate professionals on Zoom and team teams. So Luke is going to run through some guides some hints and tips on how to look better. And hopefully during the webinar helped me make my Zoom game a little bit better than it is today. Welcome to the webinars Luke.

Luke: Hi, Mike. Thanks for having me really excited to be here. I’m really looking forward to sharing tips and some top tips how to make your zoom setup and teams better and take it to the next level. So really excited to be here.

Luke: So the first slide I want to talk about before we get into the tips and tricks is actually thinking about why we should start thinking about zoom. With the COVID pandemic, it will happen so quickly remote working actually became a thing that was something we could do, it happened very quickly. And we kind of started rushing to work from home or from office co working spaces. And we haven’t really had the time, even two years later nearly to take the time to think about the setups and how we’re presenting ourselves to our companies, our clients and our colleagues. And this might sound dramatic on why we should think about it. But it can actually have an impact on your professional brand. We’ve all heard about personal brand as marketers and PR people. But in our internal brand within the companies we work with with our colleagues and our clients. It’s important that we think about how we come across and how we’re representing the companies we work for, and how we’re looking in front of clients as well.

It’s amazing, even PR companies or video production companies all focused on how we look in and how we come across in the media. But even on a resume and team meeting. Sometimes we’re still not given the best image. And if you’re looking to go into roles that are client facing or sales or marketing, it can actually have an impact as well. So when you’re not thinking about how you’re coming across, we will think about first impressions and how workouts look, well, first time we meet someone. But as a professional brand is important that we think about how we’re coming across and why it matters to the people around us that we’re working with. And this slide I want to share my journey of my setup. Now on the bottom left, you’ll see the typical setup, low angle, low light in the room lights and just about you creating a bit of a halo effect. And it’s what you’ll see on the news. And I’m going to reference news and media throughout this tips and tricks training because it’s why I always talk about in these sessions, your news, the universal we see the news everywhere. And you’ll be amazed when you start seeing these mistakes people making that you’ll see them over and over again, politicians, industry experts and commentators given a chance to shine on the news and talk about their industry. But when they’re on the news, and they don’t take the time to set up their remote video calls, instantly killed their credibility, and they completely lost the impact they could have had as a thought leader in the field, they’ve lost the chance to come across as someone impactful and can really make a difference on the news. So the bottom left, like I say is what we will start with the middle one is something I tried to create like a YouTuber look. Many people on YouTube you see lots of coloured lights in the background, lots of studio make it look our full professional set. But for Office day to day, I really found this was too much it was a bit too in your face, and a bit too distracted with the colour backgrounds as much as I love it. And I think it’s really nice. I think for day to day and day to day meetings as well. There was a bit too much and a bit too dramatic. And bottom right is what you can see now is the plain coloured lighting. I’ve got a clean background, I’ve got some artwork in the in the background, I’ve got a shelving unit over here, which I personalised everything from Amazon really cheap and affordable, some ornaments and fake nature, some hobbies of mine cameras and photography, and just some nice lighting as well. I’ve also got the lights and in the background behind me which is changing throughout my meetings, which is another way just to personalise the space that you want to look at. And you want people to see that you come across as professional. And again, small, very easy steps, not expensive to come across as incredibly professional. And he’s actually taking the time to actually impact and put the effort into making your professional setup come across as well.

And you’ve actually taken time to think about it. I’m going to come back to Mike setup in a minute throughout this set this webinar as well and in a minute and how to improve his setup but this slide really just shows you what I’m trying to have you avoid looking like on your backgrounds. Obviously it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but things like clutter, home life, clothes in the shop clothes in the washing line. You’ll be amazed amount of times I’ve been on professional team events on Zoom, or teams and company events where people have just got stuff The background from home life, and they haven’t taken the time to look behind them. And all it does is distract you the whole time they’re talking. So Mike, if we go back to your setup now, it’d be nice to look at some maybe some clutter you’ve got in the background and see what we could improve for your next meeting.

Mike: Yeah, thanks, Luke. I’ll just make this a full screen as well. So I’m now realising that my setup is not great. I could see quite a lot of clutter in the background there.

Luke: Yeah, so what we’re seeing here, we’ve seen some stationery behind year we’ve seen some file filing cabinet I think would be fine by itself. It’s the filing cabinet. But we’ve got some books on the bottom right of the screen. We’ve got some like some homie ornament things, but that would be nice if they were by themselves, but without the clutter, got some stationery and some filing as well. I think for your next meeting, if you just remove all of that, and then have it as a nice clear background, and maybe you have pet some home ornaments you’ve got from homes and things that mean something special to you. I think they’d be a great way to clear that space as well.

Mike: Yeah, no, I mean, it’s something I’ve not really realised in terms of the amount of clutter I’ve got there. I mean, I guess my question is about the pictures, because I’ve also realised that my pictures are kind of out of shot, aren’t they?

Luke: I think if you’re able to do it at home, I think it’d be really nice to bring them down. Once we get rid of the clutter, you can organise it around the filing cabinet, it might sound a bit dramatic to move artwork on the wall. But even just having something in the background, it’s another way to show your personality and your hobbies, you’ve got the artists that I’ve got this from Steven Brown, he’s one of my favourite artists. And I just put him in the background as behind me, just in short, not too dominating. But again, talking piece, it’s another way to have some conversation in your meetings and have a talking point force behind you. And when you do have sex out, which is different to everyone else, which doesn’t look like what we saw before the bottom left of the screen, the low angle shot, the bad news lick, it really does make the impact.

Mike: Great. Now that’s really helpful, I think I’ll have to go on a bit of a spring clean, thanks, Luke.

Luke: So if we just go back to the slides, so we’ve had the avoiding the distracting backgrounds, we’re going to have to tidy up, we’re going to take some time to really think what’s behind us. And now we’re going to talk about the hardest part of being on a zoom or meetings call. And that’s been on camera, many of us hate being on camera, I hated being on camera, even just for zoom or team meetings or company calls, it’s still something that people are still struggling with two years on. And it’s one of those things that when you do start doing it, you get used to it. It’s a bit like what we call media trading. And in the PR world, when you’re recording a video or recording media, you start doing it and you get used to it, you forget about how you’re listening to yourself, or how you look on camera. And the more you do it, the more you get used to doing it. And there’s a few reasons why I really want to encourage you and people you work with to turn your video on as well. The first is it creates a human connection. When we see people we can read body language, we can see how they’re reacting to us. And we can have eye contact with them. We can see how they’re thinking, what facial expressions are given to us as we’re talking, maybe you’re on a sales pitch, or you’re presenting to a client a really big project. And if they’re not on camera, and you’re not on camera, you’re not going to be able to see who those reacting and who’s in the room even as well. Sometimes you want to know who’s in the room or who just looking at. And when you haven’t got the camera turned on, it’s really difficult to see how people are reacting. And I know from talking to Mike, that they’re struggling with a neighbour still, and might give you some talk about that. If that’s something you’re still looking into to try and figure out how to get people on camera as well, your team?

Mike: Yeah, I think it’s something that every company does. I mean, nobody really wants to be on camera. I think the interesting thing was we did a survey on LinkedIn. And 41% said that how you look on Zoom is crucial to your career. And yet, the number of times on calls were less than 40% of people even have their camera on. So it’s really difficult. It definitely within a company, I think builds it builds a team spirit. But it does require you to be prepared to turn the camera on and, you know, put a bit of effort in and I think, you know, I don’t like it. But equally I probably was aware that my background wasn’t great. I you know, I didn’t look so good. Maybe if I put more effort into the background, that’s gonna make me feel more comfortable on camera.

Luke: Definitely. And I think it’s quite interesting when we all started working from home that companies actually created a no camera policy where you weren’t forced to be on camera. And that was something that started getting introduced. And I think we did that too quickly. Maybe I understand about different levels of poverty and home life. Maybe some people are embarrassed about where they work. But I think the more we start to become comfortable on camera, the more we get used to it and it becomes such a less big of a thing that is at the moment. And hopefully again, like you’re saying, just create that team morale and you see each other. If you haven’t seen people in person, you’ve joined the company remotely. And some people I know have joined companies remotely and people just don’t go on camera and you don’t see your team For the past few months, and it’s really demoralising for people who do want to be on camera as well.

Mike: Definitely, I mean, we’ve just hired a couple of new people. You know, I’ve been in the office today, it was great to see them face to face. And I think part of that is we probably don’t use our cameras enough. So it’s something hopefully we’re all gonna have a resolution to improve going forward.

Luke: Yeah, that sounds great. So the next part I want to talk about, I’ve mentioned it already, but about personalising your space, add objects that you find from Lily that you find relaxing to be around in your environment. So many people I’ve spoken to, since we started working from home out of necessity, because of COVID, that we started hating the working spaces that we’re working in, maybe you’ve got a home office like I have. But after a while, maybe the first six months, it was exciting, it was fun. But you started hating the space you’re working in. And again, adding things from your home from your family. It’s all part of making space and enjoyable space to work in. I hated this room for a while just because I spent all my time in it. And it was just I wasn’t enjoying it. And it was just boring. And it wasn’t making me happy to be in here. But by other things like background lighting, some nature, some qualifications to show your credentials, I’ve got my degree in the background, as were anything you want to show that’s yours is all about adding the space which makes it yours, which makes it personable, and it makes makes an enjoyable space to work in. And as working from home, you’re starting to ease off a little, I still think he’s going to be here for a long time. And if we can make these spaces more homely, like they’re part of us and part of who we are, then we’ll start enjoying actually working in them as well.

Now I want to talk about making your calls like a video production, where we talk about the lights, the cameras and the audio as well. We’ve all heard in the Commonwealth video, world Lights, Camera Action. And now we need to start thinking about that. And we’re going to be looking at Mike setup after these ties as well. And going more into detail. I’m going to talk about the three levels of the different parts of the lights, the cameras and the audio. So lighting, like I said earlier, the first thing you’ll usually see is no lights at all, it’ll be the low angle or the webcam on the laptop, there may be some overhead lighting in the room that you’re working on. And that just creates shadows because it’s above your head. It’s creating shadows all underneath you. And it’s really unnatural. And it’s really bad what’s called news look. And the first thing many people do is use what’s called a ring light, you’ll see this on YouTube a lot. It’s literally a light that is a rain that can go around your camera and just add some extra light. It’s not expensive, and it’s not a big cost for you or your company. But the impact it has is massive. So for lighting for me, I’ve got two lights here, I’ve just got one there and one there is a more high production LED lights, which will be provided links for afterwards as well. I’ve created three different budgets for your lighting and your cameras and your audio. And if I show you a low budget, like there’ll be something like this, it’ll be an LED light, where you can just have it behind your camera. Or even what I do now is face it against a white wall and it bounces up on my face. And the reason I do that, because in the film world, when you have a big soft light, there’s no shadows is a soft light isn’t a harsh shadow lighting. And it creates a pleasant look, when you haven’t writing your face, it creates a little glare, you’re squinting the whole time. And it’s very difficult to concentrate when you’ve got a light shone in your face. So light is really important. So Mike, if we could go back to your setup quickly.

Mike: So here it is, I don’t actually have a light on at the moment I sit in front of a window. And I’m kind of relying on that for light.

Luke: Yeah, and that’s a lot of tips you’ll hear people say is use natural light use the Windows news to you. But the problem with that, especially here in the UK, around mid afternoon like today, around three o’clock isn’t the moment the light starts to go and the clouds start coming over. And we start losing light. And that’s where an extra light, just a simple LED light in Lightroom I think would really make an impact even if he just bounced it off the wall in front of him. And then it comes across on his face. It’s a nice soft light. And we know that Mike’s got some green walls in his room as well. It’ll get rid of that green glare on his face. And just make him look a bit more human.

Mike: Yeah, I don’t think the green wall is very flattering because the light comes through the window bounces off the wall and then people ask if I mils. So that’s a really good bit of advice to try and get rid of that.

Luke: So we go back to the slides again, like cameras. Now this is one of the biggest issues that people struggle with. They get so hung up on the cameras and they forget about everything else. And one thing I always say before investing in a camera is invest in your audio, which we’ll be touching on next. But the cameras doesn’t have to be expensive. There’s lots of ways to get around using big expensive cameras. Some people will say use big professional photography cameras. Some people say invest hundreds in the webcam. But if you just want to use your smartphone and you don’t want to invest in a webcam, you can do that as well. There’s an amazing app you can use called Arium, which We’ll give a link to you on the landing page after the webinar, where you can actually just connect up your smartphone and use that as your webcam, you can have a list of adapter that connects your phone to your, your monitor or wherever you’re working, and it creates a webcam out of your smartphone. So if you don’t want to invest in a high big webcam, or a photography camera either, and that’s another great way to go. I think Mike, that’d be worth something for you to do as well, whether either using the smartphone or investing, maybe upgrading the web camera a little bit, I think for your setup currently, that’d be a good thing for you.

Mike: Yeah, that’s that’s probably a great point, because I’ve got quite a cheap camera. And as a confession, I’ve had to wedge something underneath it, because it’s so cheap that it’s actually a bit lopsided. So yeah, I think I can certainly see the benefit of getting a better a better webcam, and therefore a better picture.

Luke: Yeah, and that trick of sometimes on my web camera, it can actually be a bit wonky, so I’ve just put a bit of loose tack underneath mine to make mine a bit more stable. And it stops at wobbling and just looks a bit strange, as well. So that’s the camera. So don’t get too hung up on the cameras. There’s lots of cheap options out there. And we’ll be providing links to Amazon on all different projects and options that you can go to, and start experimenting with your video setup. Now let’s talk about audio. And this is the biggest issue along with video and lighting. But audio can really kill your video setup and your zoom meetings. How many times since we started working from home that you’ve been in a meeting someone using a really bad headphone or they’re outside, and there’s wind blowing, and there’s rustling noises, and you just can’t hear them? It’s the biggest killer to having a bad meeting. And it can be even frustrating for people in the meeting as well. For your clients, especially for people you’re working with your stakeholders, and just your colleagues in general. And audio doesn’t have to be difficult either.

There’s three levels to what I call the audio setup. The first is using headphones like this, the Apple White headphones that you’ll see all the time. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. But even that doesn’t look great, it’s messy, you’re seeing your wide headphones on your neck. And even that can be a bit distracting. Then the next middle range setup is what you see typically on the news, people in offices are these headsets, similar to what Mike’s using at the moment. And that’s great. If you want a mid range for a really high quality setup for your audio. That’s the best way to go. And what I also started using recently is wireless headphones as well, they come in these little boxes, and just little small with ear pieces like that wireless. Now the only issue the wireless ones, which we just had before we started, sometimes they can be a bit unreliable. So the wired headphones is really good. And or the headsets as well is a great way to go. I would advise avoid trying to get away from the wide headphones just because it can look a bit messy. But if that’s all you got at least have the microphone close to you as well. And lastly, before we finish, I just want to say just have fun with it. Try and make your space your own, I spoken about this already. We’re trying to enjoy the space, try and make it somewhere that you enjoy working, and that you’ll be proud to work on as well, your video calls, there’s nothing worse than the look of the blurred background. And that’s something we’ve all tried to do to hide what’s in our background and our home and the space we’re working in. But when we see the blurred background, we all know what we’re doing, we’re trying to hide the space around us. And if we just took the time and the thought and the effort to really try and make it a space we enjoy and we’re proud of that we wouldn’t have to do that. And it takes away the stress of the space we’re working in as well. And I think now it’s gonna come to q&a. And if you’ve got any questions or any tips or questions on the tips I’ve spoken about be happy to take some questions.

Mike: Thanks so much, Luke, that was amazing. And clearly, I’ve got a little bit of work to do to make my space look, you know, something similar to yours. But, you know, one day I’ll look maybe not the ultimate professional, but at least professional on teams and zoom. Just a note for everybody. If you want more information, we do have a landing page, it’s Napier b2b dot com slash look Pro. And if you go there, there’s not only the materials from this webinar, but there’s also as Luke said, he’s put together three different kits and a different price points to improve your setup. So you can actually go click through and see the products on Amazon. And also, most importantly, if anybody is interested in talking to Luke about, you know, getting some one to one coaching, there’s also contact details for Luke on the webpage as well. So I know Luke helps a lot of people just a short session going through their current setup and giving them some tips in the way he’s done for me, and certainly that’s something I’d really recommend.

Luke: Yeah, thanks, Mike. And if anyone does want to connect as well, online, LinkedIn is the best place to find me. So feel free to correct me on LinkedIn as well.

Mike: Fabulous. Just one thing to say is we do have some time so if anybody has any questions So some already, please just put them into the chat. And I know Luke will be very happy to answer them. And the first question from John, thank you is, he’s asking Luke, can you turn the camera around so we can actually see your setup?

Luke: Yep. Okay, forgive the wobbliness. So obviously, the desk is a bit messy because we’re doing a demo with the webinar with the equipment. So with my lights in, I’ve got one LED light there on the right hand side of me. And then I have a microphone for recording voice over an audio work that I do. And then there I’ve also got my second LED panel as well. And you’ll also notice that there is some bedding just on a very simple frame stand, which has been coming up with some clamps. And the reason for that is that the bedding actually provides some dampening for the audio this from the very, very echoey room. And by having just some bedding on the back just behind you doesn’t have to be a huge setup like this. But it provides just a bit of way to remove the echo. And Echo was something that I was really conscious of about the audio in my meetings as well. And probably another way that can really annoy people in your meetings. So hopefully this is helping just reduce that echo for you as well.

Mike: Brilliant, that’s really helpful. I got a question from Hannah. So Hannah’s asking, I think, a really good question here. If you’ve got a set up, that’s not great at the moment. What would you do in terms of prioritisation? Would you spend money on audio lights or camera? First? What would be your priority?

Luke: Yeah, that’s a great question. And it’s gonna be a bit controversial, but I’m going to say audio is the most important thing. Laptops these days generally have a webcam, you might already have a webcam or camera available, you can use your phone already, if that’s available to you, as well, like I mentioned with the app, you can connect. But the audio really is the way to improve your setup straightaway. And it doesn’t have to be customer can have one of these headsets, like I mentioned earlier. But by investing some money in your audio setup, you’ll be able to impress the people working with you, everyone around you in your team, your clients, your meetings are going to have bad audio, but by being the person that the audio is that clear and professional, and they can hear you and understand you most importantly, the audio is going to have the biggest impact, then go with the lights and then go with the camera.

Mike: Perfect. That’s great. Another question here from Elana. And I guess she’s asking about a selfie, she doesn’t have a home office as a separate room. So what can you do to make the best of having to do zoom calls in a normal living space.

Luke: I think even if you’re working in living space, which I do sometimes as well, it’s finding a way to make it seem professional, even if you have to work on the sofa or on city or chair. Even if you have to do that still trying to make a way to make it sound professional. Having good audio, having your background clear. If you’re on a cypher and not having personal items on you, it just makes a way just to have a space that’s yours or working. If there’s a corner, you can work in the room where you can have the corner the background corners, also great raised to have space in your background as well. So if I show you briefly, so let’s say that corner is my working space, behind me, corners adapts to your background. So if you’ve got a living space, like a lounge you’re working in, you can find a corner that you can sit in front of just have a plain background or not, you have got a dedicated working space, which I know many people haven’t. Another way is to find a space that can be yours that can be clean, that can be tidy, and just look professional. That’s the main thing. You don’t have to have this big setup or office space like I’ve got, you just need a space where you can work that you can have dedicated and calm and tidy and just look at you know what you’re doing in professional and you’re coming across as tidy and professional as well.

Mike: Perfect. That’s really good advice. I love the advice about the corner. We’ve got a couple of questions from John now. The first one, I think it’s quite technical. He’s asking about reducing TCO. And he says, is it worth using a shotgun mic to reduce echo or is that just too much money?

Luke: Funnily enough, John, that was actually my first option that I tried to do when this all started my background is in video production and film production. I’ve worked with Mike in the past on video work and my first idea was to have a shotgun mic just on top of the webcam pointing down research you would use the echo I thought about putting like a wind muff on front of it to reduce the echo. But actually I found because of the way the shotgun mics are designed, it was actually creating more echo there maybe with a webcam I was using or the the microphone I mentioned it as well. And I also think it’s quite overkill especially for the price that shotgun mics and go into when you want the quality one. I would avoid the shotgun route. I gave it a try. But it was more hassle then it was worth because you need adapters, you need connectors that connect to your laptop or your computer. So I’d stay away from the truck primary mind.

Mike: Some great advice there. So last question again from John. And I think this is, this is a fantastic question. So a lot of us see people using the corporate logo as an artificial background. And so John’s asking, what’s your view on using the logo? As a background image rather than having a real background?

Luke: I think it depends, it depends on a few things. One, your company policy for one, are they happy with you using the corporate company logo, when COVID remote work and started, a lot of companies invested in custom graphics, or maybe their own internal team or they outsourced it to companies that could actually make it for them. So be careful on how you do that, and contact your local internal team, make sure they’re okay with that. I think if you really can’t work in a space where you can dedicate it at work, and it is a way to hide what’s around your home, and that’s great, as long as your company’s happy with it, and it isn’t too distracting. Just don’t have your logo in the background, which is a huge logo behind your head, and it just dominates your screen, maybe have a photo, your logo in the corner or in another corner, just having somebody in the shot as well. Photo backgrounds with a logo on top. That’s a great way to go.

Mike: Brilliant. And I said I do a last question. But I think I’m just going to add this. You know, it’s a question, asking about the background again. So following on from the previous one. If you don’t have a good natural background, what’s the best thing? Are you better to use a single colour and neutral background? Or something with you know, more going on? So perhaps and marketing logos and things? Do you have a view as to what’s a good artificial background,

Luke: I think we’d like to single colours and keep them kind of single. If you’re not going to have a graphic or photo just a background, we can have a plain background, the simpler, the better, the less distracting you want. It’s really important. So my wall behind me is just a cream wall. I know I’ve got my background behind me things but it’s pissing away. It’s not distracting. By keeping it simple. If you’ve got lots of behind your marketing messages behind your slogans, again, people will be focused on what’s behind you. And they’ll be strapped in and not focusing on you in the meetings, which is what you want. I think keeping it simple is the most important thing.

Mike: Perfect, I really appreciate it. Thank you everyone, for listening. Thank you for the questions that came through as well as some really good questions there. And just as a reminder, if you want more information, the slide deck, Luke setups are all available at Napier b2b slash look Pro. And most importantly, if you want to talk to Luke and perhaps get some personal advice about your own setup, or maybe get advice for your team, and help your team look good, because obviously, as a manager, having all your team look good on Zoom is going to reflect well on you. Then there’s contact details for Luke there. So once again, thank you all for listening. I really appreciate your time. And if anybody would like to share the the webinar or take a look at any part again, we will have it available on demand that will be on the webpage. And that will be up by the end of the week. So thanks once again, and particularly thanks to Luke for your contribution. It’s been absolutely brilliant.

Luke: Thanks, Mike. Thanks for having me. And thanks to everyone for the great questions and for attending today.