Like many of you, I have spent the past couple of months really learning and working towards mastering the Art of Zoom Meetings. In the past two months, the lock down has introduced millions of people overnight to the wonders of Zoom. We are all adapting to the new norm of life.
Video conferencing platforms have become part of the new normal for individuals in many sectors. Turn up early! Getting yourself there on time and not in a flap is just as important as if you had to factor in journey time. Even if that journey is now just a matter of seconds. Prepare your talking points, write an agenda and set yourself an objective for the meeting just like you would for a face to face meeting. Treat virtual meetings with the same level of importance as if you were meeting face to face.
1. Turn your video off before starting the call. Video takes up lots of bandwidth, so can make your connection unstable. So do ask the other person if they would rather turn off their screen too. Of course, if your connection is strong and video is working fine then go for it – being able to see each other’s face is an important part of communication.
2. Use the mute button when you join a call or when others are talking. This is common etiquette not to have disruptive background noise or interrupt while someone else is talking, it becomes very distracting to the speaker.
3. Raise your virtual hand if you want to speak. Zoom has a facility to do this – you’ll find it hidden away under Participants.
4. The instant messaging feature allows you to ask questions or comment on something while the other person is speaking. This means you’re not interrupting and can return to the comment later.
5. And joy of joys, Zoom has a Touchup My Appearance feature (smooths out the lines and generally blurs things). Go to Settings/Video/Touchup.
6. Share your screen – if you’re talking about a document or a design, share your screen and you can really collaborate closely and talk through what you’re reading or looking at.
7. Watch what’s going on in the background.
8. Have a glass of water close to the computer – but not within the camera’s view. I once had a coughing fit and I was unprepared.
9. Close your other windows, especially email and anything client-sensitive. You don’t want to be in a screen share, end up on the wrong page, and accidentally expose something you shouldn’t have. Do not minimize these screens; close them. Operate under the assumption that if the screen is up, the audience will see it.
10. Turn off your cell phone or silence it just like you would in a face to face meeting. A cell phone notification in the middle of a presentation or discussion can become very distracting.
11. Of course, we’re all in the same boat at the moment so let’s also understand that children of all ages can’t be expected to understand why their home is now a place of work and their parents have an alter ego they normally don’t see.
12. Look at the webcam while you talk. It’s a common mistake to look at the other information displayed on Zoom or at your notes. This may have a distracting or jarring effect on the audience. But remember… everyone on your team is most likely in the same boat as you are: A dog barking, a toddler interrupting, or an issue with the internet isn’t the end of the world.
Let’s be accommodating and patient with each other on these calls. We are living in very uncertain times and are all trying our best to adapt and cope. Go easy on yourself, take it one step at a time, and keep up the good work.