Improve Your Zoom Communication Skills with This List of Best Practices…Like Your Career and Business Depends on it!

According to S&P Global, Zoom video conferencing software increased by 183,000 users in the first three months of 2020.

I’ve also heard various experts say the focus on virtual live presenting has progressed three years in just six months thanks to Covid-19.

In reality, with in-person event planners booking speakers “tentatively” and very cautiously, for mid-2021 and into 2022, Zoom conferencing and online meetings will prove to be the ONLY predictable way to present and receive content from one-to-many in a live setting.

There has been, and probably will never be again, a more important time in history to learn, practice and improve your live video conferencing presentation skills for Zoom meetings and events or other virtual live apps.

How These Zoom Video Conferencing Best Practices Were Created

These best practices below were acquired over a five month period where a small group of 20 of my friends, clients and colleagues joined me each week (usually 5 to 10 showed up each week) for one hour in a private online Zoom conferencing meeting room to practice their video presentation skills. I was the facilitator each week and produced a small curriculum of presentation objectives for all attendees to work through. Each presenter was complemented for content presented well and given supportive and constructive feedback for improvement. 

The photo below was taken at one of our early sessions. The guy on the right attended our first meeting where he had his laptop on the floor! When he logged in to the Zoom meeting, the only thing we could see was his feet in his slippers! He didn’t realize the only camera functioning properly was on his laptop! Watching how his background, lighting, and speaking positioning evolved over a few weeks was fulfilling to watch.

Joe Sabah (middle top) was in his mid-80’s when he decided to start developing his Zoom conferencing presentation skills.

The two women in the bottom row developed their Zoom presentations over the duration of our five-months worth of sessions. They (and others not shown) put their newly found skills to work by starting their own virtual live Zoom shows.

Business Networking using live video

Who Needs Live Video Best Practices for Zoom Meetings?

If you have produced video or live video and you want to improve your output, these best practices will help. No matter how good you are at presenting on video or on-stage, there is always room for improvement when presenting on Zoom.

If you have never produced a video for the internet before (live or recorded), you have probably thought of it as being too technical, too costly, too difficult, too time consuming, or all four combined. This post is for you too, because none of those claims are enough today to justify going another year without using live video. They are only excuses in 2020. You can no longer escape using  Zoom video conferencing or other forms of live video if you plan to have a growing and thriving business over the coming year.

With the Coronavirus impacting the public speaking industry as quickly as it has with so many cancelled events, improving on your video presentation skills will be of the highest priority to augment your live speaking appearances.

Will Presenting in Live Video Zoom Conferences and Meetings Make You Money?

This is the question everyone asks, for which the answer is simple: Zoom meetings  will not make you money. GOOD presentations and speaking skills in virtual live events using video conferencing software, like Zoom, make you money.

So, what is “good live video?” In 2020, live video quality does not always equate to high production costs like videos of the past. If you produce a live video on Periscope on Twitter or Facebook Live, LinkedIn Live for example, there are typically no post-production costs at all—because the video is happening in-the-moment.

Why Should Best Practices for Zoom Live Video Presentation Skills Exist?

I was eating lunch at a Chinese food restaurant recently. A woman walked in with a bag in her hand, pulled a take-out Chinese food box out of the bag, confronted the nearest waitress and said, “I’ve been coming here for YEARS and ordering Rainbow Fried Rice almost every time! This does not look to me like Rainbow Fried Rice! I know exactly what Rainbow Fried Rice is supposed to look like and that’s not it! I want my money back and I’m never coming here again!”

My point: It only takes a single visually poor experience to lose even a long-term customer forever. How much easier must it be for a prospective customer to stop watching your live video mid-way and never pursue a connection with you?

These live video presentation skills standards have been created to save you from losing potential customers as well as provide you with proven techniques to inspire new potential clients to do business with you.

Surprising Findings About Presenting in Zoom Video Conferences and Meetings

To transition into the actual Best Practices, here are some surprising findings we realized together during our 5 months of virtual live meetings of weekly presentations:

  • Some techniques used in traditional video do not work live.
  • What works in live video DOES translate to traditional video.
  • Professional in-person stage keynoters struggle in presenting on Zoom video.
  • Try publishing a new blog post just before producing a live video and you will know what to say because the content is fresh in your mind.
  • People with no video presentation experience become comfortable quickly.
  • Most presenters cannot memorize live video content.
  • Many people fear presenting on Zoom live video more than on-stage.
  • Teleprompters are best used for when you must say the exact words.
  • Viewers do not mind if you glance at notes occasionally.
  • A pretty face on women and full head of hair on men only helps for the first 10 seconds of a Zoom video.
  • Practicing live video in a private and supportive environment before going live to the public is key to presenting enough so that you look forward to opportunities to present on more Zoom-based events. 

How to Use the 2020 Zoom Live Video Conferencing Best Practices in Your Videos

Each section of Best Practices contains a brief introduction to summarize the standards. They are organized so that you can work through them in order even if you have never produced a live video before. Or, more experienced video producers may apply only portions of sections as needed.

Computer Hardware Minimum Requirements

  • 8Mb of RAM or More.
  • 32-Bit operating system or more (64 for some video software).
  • 2 Ghz processor speed or greater.
  • If using computer’s internal cam, Must be at least 720p capable.

Zoom Video Best Practices for Video Equipment

With so many devices, brands, editions, software versions, and available online resources, our Zoom video equipment best practices description will be limited to generalities. If you have acquired a cell phone or camera over the past two years, you have a good chance that it will be equipped for live video. Here are some general best practices for video equipment for Zoom meetings beyond hardware specs.

Video Equipment

  • Wired/wireless mic for any video 5ft away from lens or more.
  • Tripod that can extend 2” above your head while standing.
  • Stabilizer for hand-held videos.
  • If using external computer cam, must be at least 720p capable.
  • Use Neutral Density Filter (NDF) to reduce direct sunlight.

Video Streaming Connection

  • Minimum 4Mbps upload speed for Facebook Live.
  • Verify before broadcast at SpeedTest.Net (App for Phone)
  • Remove devices from internet connection except the one being used.

Video Area Setup Indoors

  • Adjust lighting to avoid reflection if wearing glasses.
  • Allow 5 ft. or more between your back and the the back wall.
  • Choose or develop a background that matches your message and branding.

Video Area Setup Outdoor

  • Allow more than 10 ft. between your back and background.
  • Use NDF or record on cloudy days or in shade.
  • Timely event coverage is more important than lighting.
  • Select a location that is related to your topic.

Zoom Video Conferencing Content Development Planning

  • Develop content with your audience in mind.
  • Plan for 90 seconds or less for top of funnel videos.
  • Plan for up to 5 minutes 2nd level funnel videos.
  • Is the topic interesting enough to attract live viewers?
  • Capture interest and make your point within first 5 seconds.
  • Reinforce main point with 3-5 benefit statements.
  • When a person joins late, give a quick overview of what you’re doing again (up to three times).
  • Spend balanced time on each topic, segment or step,
  • Use at least one visual aid for every one minute speaking.
  • Plan transitions from section to section of live video presentation.
  • Use humor once every 3 minutes.
  • Make someone other than you be the hero of the story.
  • When promoting an offer, build value of the offer to be at least five times the cost.
  • Recap your main points and, if possible, ask the audience to participate by repeating one of the main points back to you.
  • Tell the audience exactly what they should do next.

Zoom Account Setup Best Practices

Zoom has hundreds of possible settings configuration within your account. Here, we will focus on the setup components required for you to most effectively present yourself on Zoom.

Profile Photo

One of the most important setup steps you can make for your Zoom conferencing is to add a photo. The photo can be of yourself, your book, a logo, whatever you feel will represent you most accurately. To NOT have a photo at all appears amateur to attendees.

Zoom conferencing account profile photo to display best practices.

Profile Name

Your Zoom profile name can be changed at any time. Experiment with different versions of your name to see what the audience best responds to. When I have a meeting with my own clients, I use the name Marty Dickinson. If I’m presenting in a business group, or just sitting in on a virtual live session, I’ll change my name to
Marty Dickinson, Author: Lions Always Win.

Virtual Background

Using a virtual background can be a compliment to your presentation if you:

  1. Assure your internet connection is fast enough to not display black fuzz around your body image.
  2. Find one (or make one) that is related to your presentation content.
  3. Avoid distracting backgrounds that make you look unusually strange or unlikeable.

Plan Your Background Carefully

Construct your background so that it says something about your personality. If you speak about a consistent topic, try to create a background that compliments the topic. 

Shown below is virtual live presentation practice group I belong to where all members use Zoom to present on a professional level or use speaking to build their businesses. Notice how each background is constructed to match the personality of each presenter. The white spaces were faces of guests to the event. I felt it was inappropriate to show their faces and backgrounds in this example. 

Presentation Delivery Standards for Zoom Meetings

  • Position your camera eye so that YOUR eye level is at 75% to top of cam screen.
  • Show top half of torso and above for live meetings and from belt level and above for solo-shot live video.
  • Look at the camera lens 80% or more of the video time.
  • SMILE! But not all the time or viewers will start chatting in the background how you must have a smile painted on your face.
  • Cite your name and website address within first 10 seconds of your live video presentation as a means of getting more website traffic.
  • Speak between 70-100 words/minute.
  • Slow your speech rate every 30 seconds for 5 seconds to let viewers catch up.
  • Smile 5 seconds for every 20 seconds.
  • Adapt vocal tone to the mood of the topic.
  • Provide clear sentences (Eliminate “AHHs” and “UMMs”).
  • Limit connected sentences (And, So, y’know).
  • Keep mouse still when displaying a screen.
  • Click directly on function when demonstrating a screen.
  • Keep body movement to less than 50%.
  • Use hand gestures with meaning instead of continuously waving your hands.
  • Be sure your hands are raised high enough to be seen when using gestures.
  • Keep head straight (No Angles).
  • Acknowledge distractions in environment and tie-in to presentation.
  • Announce your name and website in last 10 seconds.
  • Develop a standard ending for which you will always use in your live videos, such as “Bye for now.”
  • Use a wireless remote mouse to turn off your recording device if you’re not holding it in your hand selfie-style.
  • If in a live meeting, provide the meeting guide with a signal to let him or her know your presentation is complete.

What Zoom Conferencing Presentation Skills Best Practices Should be Added to this List?

We will continue to add new best practices as we experience them ourselves. We also invite you to share with us any best practices you feel should be added to the list. Together, we can make this the most complete list of live video presentation skills best practices available on the web.

Use our contact form to suggest an addition to this list.

Want to Practice Your Live Video Presentation Skills in a Supportive Environment?

We occasionally conduct Zoom presentation practice sessions. These events are always free and open to the public. The only criteria is that you must be an owner of a business of some kind…or in the process of starting a business. Speakers, authors, consultants, trainers, coaches are welcome too.

Simply join our LIFETIME FREE Action Starter membership to get alerts for our next Zoom conferencing presentation practice event.