Actors share their tips on making an impression over Zoom

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Over the past six months, the entire world has shifted into a new digital realm where kindergarten, business meetings, birthday parties, job interviews, and auditions are held from the comfort of our own homes. 

Since the pandemic began in March, which shut down film sets across America, actors have had to get creative with the audition process. In the past, the industry was no stranger to at-home self-tapes, but with everything turning to fully digital set-ups, things have been interesting. 

Many actors were quick to research backdrops, lighting rings, and invest in a good tripod to facilitate self-tape recording, but what about in-person Zoom auditions? How can you put your best digital foot forward while sitting at your kitchen table or in front of your artfully staged bookcases?

What if I told you that all the tips and tricks that actors use for nailing their digital auditions could easily be applied to your next job interview or major presentation? 

That’s right. With a few helpful tips from the acting community, you can dazzle on camera. 

“Improv has made me better at meetings. Most conversations are predictable. Practice thinking through what may be asked and how you’ll respond. Take notes of important facts and figures. The nice thing about going digital is that you can have as many notes as you need!” — Maggie Lovitt (True Terror With Robert Englund and Dead of Night

So, before you log on for your next Zoom meeting, check out these helpful hints from 80’s icon Diane Franklin. (Better Off Dead… and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure)

“The most important thing about any online meeting or audition is being relaxed enough to be yourself and be in the moment. So how do you do this? Create an ideal Zoom room by setting yourself up before the meeting so you can just walk in, join a meeting, and not worry about anything!” Franklin explained over email. 

She’s right. Setting the scene around you will help you look good and help keep the person on the other side of the video engaged. 

Diane Franklin’s Go-To Tips: 

Check out these nine simple tips for going pro with your next Zoom call. 

  • Start your meeting with a smile!
  • Find the room with the best internet signal. 
  • Make sure you can close a door for quiet. (When the door is closed, it can signal you are in a meeting to others.) 
  • Have a computer and/or phone connectors ready to plug in [to] eliminate the worry of wondering when your battery will die.

“Light yourself! Either by sitting by a window that has natural light on your face (my favorite) or if that’s logistically impossible the setting up a small ring light on your desk/table.” — Lisa Coronado (Z Nation and Twin Peaks

  • Get a circle ring for lighting. Just do it. Trust me.
  • Check out what’s in the back of you when you are on camera. If it’s unsightly or distracting, remove it. Plain walls are ideal.
  • Let your wardrobe show your personality. Wear what you feel confident in.
  • Get in the habit of looking at your camera dot, not at yourself or others. (Yes, it feels weird, but it’s the closest thing to experiencing eye contact.)
  • Put an item in the room that helps you have fun and relax. (eg. picture of nature or animals, photo of someone you love, crystal, a funny quote.) 

Another tip, which is not included above, would be to look into investing in an external microphone. This isn’t to say that you need to go out and purchase a whole microphone set to clip onto your tie, but rather a USB microphone that sits on your desktop. It will improve the quality of your audio the next time you Zoom and bring your Zoom set-up to a new level. 

The same can be said about your headphones. Instead of camping out in front of your laptop with giant headphones that mess up your hair, consider exploring wireless headphone options. This way you won’t be struggling with wires that make you have to sit uncomfortably close to your desk. 

The key is to be as comfortable and natural in front of your computer, so you can do your best over zoom. 

Zoom Like a Pro

You don’t have to be an actor to act like one on Zoom. Using these simple tips, you can easily upgrade your Zoom experience and help put your best face forward when interacting with potential hires, high-stakes clients, and your friend’s digital bachelorette party.

After all, you don’t want to end up with a bad score on Room Rater, a trusted source of humor as we get a peek into everyone’s homes.