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About Improv Blog and Resources

How to prepare for your online improv class on Zoom

Updated: Jan 17, 2021

5 easy steps to set-up Zoom, your lighting, sound, and workspace at home, so we can see and hear you clearly. You want to look good on camera, right?

Zoom is the online meeting application we use for School of Improv classes. You'll find Zoom is user-friendly and you'll soon be at ease with it. With a little preparation, you'll feel much more comfortable working from home, and we can help make adjustments during the class so it's the best it can be for you. We'll always guide you through the in-meeting controls, and help you every step of the way.

You will have the best experience by using Zoom on a PC or laptop for our online improv classes. This way, you will be able to see the full 'gallery view' of participants and have easy access to all the in-meeting controls. Some manage with a tablet, but you will need to swipe to see everyone and to use the controls, so a bit more hassle. Mobile phones are not suitable.

Follow these 5 steps:

1) How to Install the Zoom App:

Download and install the most recent version of Zoom to your device. Go here and select 'Zoom Client' for meetings, then follow the simple installation instructions: (Zoom Client is just another term for App). It only takes about minute to download and install Zoom.

2) How to get the best from your device and internet connection.

  • If you have an ethernet cable to connect your device to your internet router (rather than using WiFi) this will give you the strongest, fastest and steadiest signal.

  • If you are using WiFi, you will improve your internet signal by being close to your router. If you are in a different room to your router, keeping doors open, so as not to block the signal, will help.

  • Prioritise Zoom during your class. Close your browser, and pause any other downloads, uploads, or notifications that may be running in the background on your device, as these will slow your signal strength down.

  • If someone else in your household is gaming online or steaming a movie, this means they will be sharing your bandwidth, and this may cause your video and sound to lag and be intermittent. This, of course depends on how much bandwidth you have from your internet service provider, and it may be worth upgrading if you have a busy household.

  • Make sure your device is fully charged, and better still, plugged into power. You don't want o run out of juice part-way!

  • Close any other unnecessary windows and applications on your computer, as this will help it run smoothly - and stop you being distracted!

3) How to sort out your camera and microphone (and possibly earphones).

  • PCs and Laptops usually come with a camera and microphone built in. (If not, you will need to use an external camera and microphone instead.)

  • If you are using an external microphone, you need to wear earphones, otherwise we will hear echoes and feedback from your mic.

  • If you are hard of hearing, we recommend you use earphones.

4) How to get your position right:

  • Find a comfortable position to sit or stand directly in-front of your camera. If you are using an external camera, try to position it directly above your device or as close to it as you can. You want to be looking at us, and we want to be looking at you, not at the side of your face.

  • Raise your computer up on a small box so your camera is at about level with your forehead.

  • Have your computer about an arms length away, so we can see your head and shoulders, and your face is centre screen.

  • Give yourself some room to move. Rather than sitting against a wall, make some space behind you if you can.

  • It's worth spending a little time to make adjustments to your space, Your experience will be all the better for it.

  • A note on 'virtual backgrounds'. Don't opt for using them. They are distracting and rarely work well.

5) How to get your lighting right:

  • Your main source of light needs to be in-front of you, so your face is well-lit. For example:

    • Turn-up the brightness level of your computer screen to full, and turn-off your main room lights.

    • Or, place a desk lamp just above your computer, and point it down towards your face. If this dazzles you, try using two lamps, one on each side of your computer, pointing towards your face.

    • Or, for nice, soft lighting, buy a ring light. They are inexpensive and make you look good! Here is the one we use.

  • You never want bright light behind you as this will cause you to be in silhouette.

  • You don't want light below you, unless you want to look like you're in a horror film.

  • Remember, it's you we want to see, not your background. Light yourself. Not your room.

Here is a great video that will help you find the best position for your computer and lighting, so you look good on webcam.


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