Published on: June 11, 2020



Zoom. I haven’t used that word since I was a kid playing with paper airplanes. But these days, it’s always on the tip of my tongue. I’m not sure we’re ever going to be rid of it. It does make meetings easier. Why force a dozen people to travel all over town to meet in one location when they can stay where they are and just click on that Zoom invite.

Since we’re stuck with it, we should figure out how to master it. Here are a few tips I learned mostly by trial and error. In other words, by my mistakes.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a family gathering, a work meeting or a committee get together, the most important thing is how you look. Seriously. We use Zoom instead of a conference call so we can see each other. So, everyone is expecting you to look like, well, you!

Due to my television background, I should be an expert on lighting. I’m not. But here’s what I do know. Never sit in front of a window during the day. Too much back lighting. Side windows are not much better. Facing a window can be ok. My biggest downfall is florescent lighting. I cannot escape it in the chamber building, so I’m always surrounded by this weird red glow. I just bought a computer camera light, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

Your background is important. If your computer is new enough, you can select a virtual background which can place you anywhere you want, from the beach to a skyscraper to a sports arena. If you’re participating in a lot of work-related phone calls, I recommend putting your logo on that virtual background.

No virtual background? You need to stage your background. Nobody wants to see you sitting in your laundry room. Large bookcase behind you? We don’t need to see every book you’ve ever read. We know you’re smart. Keep the background simple. Make sure you are eye level with your camera. Looking up or down to make eye contact makes you look, well, weird.

Watch your clothing. I know there is no need to wear pants, unless you plan on standing up for some reason, but stay away from white or black shirts – they blow out the camera. And wild patterns are too distracting.

Get familiar with all the Zoom extras. You can present a PowerPoint presentation with the shared screen option. And then there’s the white board. You can write your presentation with a virtual pen to amaze your attendees – if your handwriting is better than mine. And figure out how to use the chat feature to ask questions during any Zoom session.

Use the waiting room to keep out the uninvited. And remember you have the ability to divide your group up into separate meeting spaces.

Last but not least, there is a setting you can click on that’s actually labeled “touch up my appearance.” But don’t get your hopes up. I try it every time I Zoom, and amazingly, I still look like me but with that unwanted red glow.

Please stay safe and remember, we are better together.

Lynne Conlan is executive director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email