By now, we’re all settled in at home and running our businesses smoothly over the phone and Zoom meetings, right? Well, not so fast…

Like you, I have greatly increased my Zoom meetings and what I have seen has disturbed me. There has been a surprising lack of professionalism, a lack of preparation, and an overall disorganized and ineffective approach to running Zoom meetings.

As you know, first impressions are everything, and if you’re meeting with a prospect or client via Zoom, there are some things you definitely don’t want to do and some you definitely want to do.

Follow this quick list of 5 tips to ensure that you not only make a great impression, but easily stand out from your competition.

Zoom Tip #1: Eliminate any and all unprofessional distractions. Oh I know, everyone is working from home, so a barking dog or screaming kids in the background should be fine, right?

Incorrect. You are a representative of your company, and you are a professional. I wouldn’t take my dog ​​to the office, would you? How about your children? Of course not. It’s key that you present a professional, confident and competent image, and that means an image free of distractions.

So get your wife or husband to take care of the kids, they’re probably home with you, take the dog out and close the door. Create an environment of professionalism.

Zoom Tip #2: Speaking of professionalism, what do you wear to your Zoom meetings? Because you are confined at home, do you show up with a t-shirt or a sweatshirt? Or do you dress business casual and at least have a nice button down shirt?

And if you’re a man, have you shaved? Did you comb your hair? Or does it look like he just got up from the couch? If you are a woman, does your hair look neat? How about makeup, if you wear it?

The way you appear makes a great impression on your customers and prospects. You want to look your best, and it doesn’t take much effort. Do it.

Zoom Tip #3: Lighting. Now I know you’re not in the film industry, but lighting is crucial for any kind of filming. I was in a meeting with someone the other day and it seemed like they were calling from a cave. It was so dark that I could barely see them.

And then I’ve been in meetings with people sitting in front of a sunlit window. Same thing: I couldn’t see their faces because they were drowned in shadow.

When considering where to shoot, make sure it’s not too bright so your face is dark, and if you’re in a dark studio or studio, turn on the lights or open the blinds.

You all know how much of a difference a well-shot, well-lit movie looks compared to a B-movie. Remember: the picture is everything that is in front of a camera.

Zoom Tip #4: The background is also important. Have you ever been in a Zoom meeting with someone and thought, “Ewe, that guy/girl is a bum! Look at that messy couch and bookshelf and those crooked photos. Yuck!”

Ladies and gentlemen, we know that your home is your kingdom and that you will live the way you choose. And you should. But we don’t need to see everything.

If you don’t have a professional background, then the solution is simple: use one of Zoom’s green screen backgrounds. There is a lot to choose from and you can find even more by googling “Zoom Background Images”.

Oh I know, if you move too fast, the background gets blurry. Two things about it: 1) Don’t move so much. In fact, if you look at any professional broadcaster, they move very little. You should practice that. 2) Everyone expects them to move, so you have some wiggle room there. Anyway, a background image is almost always better than what you have now…

Zoom Tip #5: Be professional and respectful at all times. That includes:

• Be on time.

• Don’t talk over someone.

• Send an email afterwards thanking them for their time.

You know, all the things you’d normally do if you were back in the office.

Incorporate these 5 Zoom tips and separate yourself from everyone else calling from their bedrooms, patios and beyond. Remember: You want to present your best during every interaction with a customer or prospect.