Like most of you, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the virtual, Zoom world these days. We have hearings, do depositions, have meetings, and mediations all online. It saves time and money and, of course, is the only real option these days.

 

I’m continually amazed at how little attention people pay to their sound and appearance in online venues.

 

But for all the time we all spend online, I’m continually amazed at how little attention people pay to their sound and appearance in online venues. Most litigators wouldn’t think of going to court without a coat and tie yet forget the importance of considering their appearance in a Zoom hearing or meeting. I get the feeling that a lot of us don’t even bother checking how they look and sound in advance.

 

One of the easiest ways to improve your appearance is to pay attention to lighting. Far too often, the lighting people rely on is simply atrocious—I see too many people still with lights or a window directly behind them, so all you see is their silhouette. Or the room is too dark or too light. Before you go online, turn your camera on yourself and see how you look.

 

It doesn’t cost much to improve the lighting. Jeff Richardson who publishes the blog iphoneJD recently recommended the Lampat LED desk lamp that is relatively inexpensive to provide adequate lighting. I have two of them.

 

People often sit either too close or too far away from whatever camera or microphone they are relying on. If you sit too close to the camera, for example, your audience will get a great shot of your nose. Too far away, and you look fuzzy. Test your sound. You want people to hear you: most people will accept a less than perfect video, but bad audio will turn them off quickly, .and a far away muffled echo.

 

Just because you are online instead of physically present doesn’t mean the quality of your look and sound isn’t important.

 

Again, check your appearance and sound before you start. Just because you are online instead of physically present doesn’t mean the quality of your look and sound isn’t important.

 

And don’t forget about bandwidth. Make sure you or others aren’t running devices while you are online that sucks away bandwidth and makes it hard to hear and see you. Problems with video and audio distract from your message.

 

If you are going to be online a lot and especially if you are a litigator and going to virtual court, invest in some equipment.  Don’t rely on the camera and microphone that comes with your laptop or tablet. They are that good. Get a good web camera-it will make you look so much better. I use a Logitech C922 HD Pro Webcam camera, and it costs around $100.

 

And for goodness sake, get a good microphone. It will eliminate the distracting echo and make you sound like you are in the room with your audience. Again, people can forgive poor video much sooner than poor audio. I use a Yeti USB microphone. It costs about $130. At the very least, get a pair of headphones with a microphone. If you are an Apple person, use AirPods or EarBuds. You will sound so much better.

 

Sound and appearance matter. Look and sound like the professional you are.