At Home with Tech

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Tag: Zoom video tips

The Struggle Between Good and Good Enough on Zoom

Showing up properly for your next meeting requires a different set of tools and attitude in this Zoom-centric reality. Here’s why it matters.

Over the past year, the Zoom revolution has put the spotlight on home video production to handle content creation for any number of needs including work, web and broadcast.

If you want to create a quality video feed using something less than professional video gear, it’s been demonstrated that you can do that. It takes some cash, though not a boatload of money, compared to what professional gear costs.

You may need to invest in:

  • A good webcam
  • A desktop tripod
  • Lighting that’s soft on your face
  • A decent microphone

Then, make sure you’ve got a real background that’s interesting, but not cluttered. (I’m less excited these days about virtual backgrounds.) And now you’re probably ready to create some decent looking video content.

No, it’s not going to be the same quality as what thousands of dollars of gear can do for you, but it’s not terrible either.

Unnecessary Effort?
But to generate a video and audio feed that’s good, you’ve also got to put in some effort. It’s not only about the gear you’re using. And there’s the rub.

It takes time to set it all up and maximize your shot.

It’s clearly a different level of commitment than opening your laptop and clicking on Zoom (or other video conference apps).

A simple click is still going to get a video and audio signal out to your viewers. And I bet a lot of people would say that’s good enough.

Good enough.

If good enough works for you, why spend money and unnecessary time to make it better?

The Allure of a One-Click Solution
I think that everyone should always try to look their best, both in person and in a virtual environment. Presenting yourself to your world is a life-long task. But I think when using Zoom, that can be a difficult sell.

Sure, if you’re hosting a webinar or doing a live shot for a media company, you probably understand that your video and audio feed should be the best possible.

But I imagine there are countless Zoom moments when people feel it’s not particularly important to do anything more than the bare minimum. Why not just open your laptop and simply click and start your video stream?

It’s good enough.

Why Deal with the Mess?
Whether using your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, technology has given us the ability to do the impossible. Generating a live video feed once took lots of people and expensive production gear to accomplish the same feat through a TV station’s full resources.

Professional video production often looks like a mad scientist’s lab with cables and power cords running askew and bright lights dangling from the ceiling.

You can also create a mess if you’re trying to improve your Zoom game at home when adding in your extra gear. Simple isn’t exactly the way to describe the experience.

On the other hand, simplicity, speed and dare I say… elegance is what comes to mind when you just lift up your laptop screen without any additional video prep, and you’re instantly ready to activate your next Zoom.

That’s hard to beat and a great reason for good enough.

Zoom is Now a Part of Life
In most Zoom situations, why should anyone feel the need to do more? (Heck, even activating your video feed is an step that so many opt out of.)

I like to say you’ve got to show up for your close up. But it’s really more about simply showing up.

This is your life. Like it or not, Zoom is now a necessary part of it.

We are a social species. To be most effective when communicating, people really need to see you. And a terrible representation of your image that barely looks like you isn’t enough. It can say you’re dialing it in. Or worse… You don’t care.

That’s why good enough isn’t good enough.

It’s Time to Shine
Face it. Your life is being televised now.

So put on your Zoom shirt. Set up your Zoom shot. And do your best to fully inhabit your little Zoom box.

Then reach out and connect.


Why Now’s the Time to Go Mobile with Zoom

Do you feel like you’ve exhausted all options to improve your Zoom video set up at home? Here’s a new angle to help solve your problem.

If you’re experiencing a general sense of malaise while using video conference apps like Zoom to maintain your tether to the outside world, it may be due to your mediocre home-office arrangement.

You could be responding to the suboptimal visual conditions of your Zoom shot. Or perhaps your background reveals the current state of messiness in your home (not judging).

I’ve shared best practices that will minimize these challenges for you. Still there are probably only so many places where you can safely and comfortably relocate your computer or laptop.

To access that perfect location for your Zoom shot that’s probably out of reach for your computer, you need a mobile solution.

And that right there… is your answer.

Use the Zoom app on your smartphone!

Don’t Make Zoom a Balancing Act
By untethering myself from my iMac and instead using Zoom on my iPhone, I immediately opened up several new shot possibilities for my video communications.

But you can’t simply hold your smartphone for thirty minutes in the perfect location for your next Zoom call. Instead, you need a way to safely mount it.

In one of my less inspired moments, I tried carefully placing my iPhone on the top ledge of a living room window. The lighting was glorious, and the framing was perfect. But using that plan for any extended period would be begging for disaster.
(Our cat would certainly find an interest in ruining that scenario!)

So, the only reasonable way to get the shot is to securely mount my iPhone onto a tripod.

Many of us may already have access to a tripod at home, but you also need a way to attach your smartphone to your tripod.

That’s the situation I found myself in.

How to Mount your Smartphone to a Tripod
I needed to buy a smartphone tripod mount for my iPhone. There are a variety of options on the market and fortunately not that expensive.

I went with a Square Jellyfish Jelly Grip Tripod Mount for smartphones.

It’s $12.95 on Amazon Prime.


Break Free from your Desk
Now, I’m free to Zoom around my house! And a huge added benefit is the option to stand in my tripod-enabled shot. Believe me, that’s so great when you feel like you’ve been glued to your chair for the past nine weeks.

So, go ahead and take your next Zoom call on the road… or at least to the next room.

A change of scenery may be just the adjustment you need!

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