As many companies and institutions have transitioned to virtual meetings, we’ve all become familiar with Zoom, Google Meet, and other video-conferencing tools.

But with new tech comes new technical difficulties, like lags in connection, poor audio, and not being able to properly explain a presentation, for example. To avoid these issues and have the best video-chat experience possible, we need to familiarize ourselves with different features, tips, and tricks.

Here are our top 10 tips for making the best out of Zoom:

  1. Get the right camera angle

Most people put their laptop directly on their desk or table, which means your camera is much lower than your eyes. For best results, raise the height of your camera to eye level by using a laptop stand. A couple of thick books underneath your laptop will also do the job.

  1. Ensure high video quality

The webcam that comes with your laptop is fine for chatting with friends and family, but for professional video calls—meetings, interviews, etc.—it doesn’t make the cut. You can get an external Logitech camera for a good price, but the ideal option is to use a digital camera as a webcam. With a crystal-clear video image, you will come across as professional and trustworthy.

  1. Check that audio

Audio is more important than video in a Zoom call—or any video-chat software. Where possible, avoid using your computer or laptop mic, as the audio quality is quite low and picks up background noise. It also makes your voice sound hollow and a bit far away. We recommend using a USB condenser mic, but any earphone will do. If you’re on a budget, the mic on your smartphone is also a big improvement from your laptop mic.

  1. Disable “mirror my video”

If you need to show others a physical document while on the call, the text will appear inverted, as the video image is automatically mirrored on Zoom. To fix this, go to your settings and disable the “mirror my video” option.

  1. Perfect the lighting

Many people use a bright window or a white wall as their background. But because cameras adjust their brightness according to the average brightness of the entire image, your face will appear dark. You want to position yourself next to or facing a window so that your face has natural light on part or all of it. If there’s no window in the room, you can use a desk lamp to bounce light off a wall and light up one side of your face.

  1. Showcase your background

Use your background to your advantage! Put books and artwork behind you (as long as it’s not too distracting). An artistic or creative arrangement will make you stand out from others.

  1. Wear pants!

While it might seem like a professional shirt is enough for a Zoom call, there are other factors to consider. First of all, to make your face appear brighter, you should wear dark colors. You should also avoid too many accessories to reduce distraction. But mostly importantly, wear pants! You don’t want to be in an awkward situation where you need to stand up to get your coffee or charger and can’t.

  1. Have your phone handy

Avoid using your smartphone as the device for the Zoom call. The people on the call may send you a last-minute message or email to reschedule. You also might want to google something quickly during the call, or send an important Whatsapp. It’s best to have the call on your laptop or desktop and keep your phone handy.

  1. Get to know different features

Learn how to use functions such as chat, send file, share screen, and annotate. These features come in handy, and you don’t want to be caught off guard if someone on the call requests that you use one of them.

  1. Smile and use gestures

As we all know, on a video call we can’t see others’ full bodies. This makes it hard to read people’s body language, so it’s important to smile more often than usual and use your hands (in the frame) to explain things. Another common mistake people make is to position their eyes in the middle of the frame. It’s better to have your eyes 1/3 down from the top of the frame, as it shows others a more natural proportion of your face and feels more organic.

Technologies like Zoom provide a flexible and efficient way to collaborate with peers, seamlessly moving meetings and classes to a platform where you can connect from anywhere in the world. If you follow these tips, you’re sure to have a successful and professional experience with your video calls. Good luck, and happy Zooming!