by Nataliya Lykhosherstova
LINC Literacy Instructor at TIES
For all those whose “new normal” is Zoom-ing with the class every day, here are some tips on how to avoid common mistakes and enjoy the experience to the fullest.
There are some things to take care of both before the meeting as well as during the meeting.
Before the meeting, it’s important to check your settings. You might want to enable waiting rooms, screen sharing, chats and breakout rooms, and at the same time, make sure you don’t forget about Zoom security settings. But here, I am not going to talk about Zoom settings but rather share a few specific tips that helped me after I first tried Zoom a month ago.
First, before the meeting, check your audio and video settings. There are three factors you need to consider: light, camera position and the background.
Let’s talk about why these are super important:
- It takes 10-15 minutes of your one-time setting to figure out where the best lighting is, what the best camera angle is and what a non-distracting background is. The source of light is crucial. Any light coming from above, from behind or from one side will cast a lot of harsher shadows on your face or black you out completely. The best lighting is going to be some nice diffused natural light from a window that you are sitting directly in front of.
- Next you need to find the most flattering camera angle. The worst camera angle is always from below. Here your participants will see your double chins and neck wrinkles. To look your best, you want to be looking slightly up to the camera. Try experimenting with your phone or laptop to find the right angle and to make sure the camera is slightly above your eye level.
- The last but not the least is your background. You want to keep your distractions to a minimum. So make sure your background is neat and tidy. It’s very distracting if your participants see a messy corner or an unmade bed behind you.
To get an idea what your video will look like, you can log into Zoom and select New Meeting. Then, you can see if your picture looks good or if it needs some editing.
Now we will talk about some time managing tips:
- Before your Zoom meeting with your class, put all your files, pictures, links and audio you are planning to use on this day in one folder on your desktop. It will save you time trying to look for a specific item that you want to share with your students.
- During the meeting, the most important is to manage your audience. I prefer muting all the students while I am giving instructions, explaining the new material or playing a recording for a listening activity. It’s very distracting when there is a child crying or a family member talking, and everyone can’t help but listen to them instead of you. Let your students get used to your muting and unmuting them so that you can keep control of the class.
Finally, if you don’t want to click around your screen all the time, check out the List of Hot Keys and Shortcuts for ZOOM.
I hope you will find these tips useful and your next Zoom class will be a happier experience!