Dear Doctor Digital, i'm a bit nervous about using Zoom, do you have any tips to help me make sure i'm not the next inadvertent viral Zoom sensation?
Doctor Digital Says
Some of the great comic reliefs of COVID19 were stories of unwitting Zoom users caught in awkward moments during Zoom, kindly shared with the world by their gleeful co-workers. We and Zoom have come a long way in our humanity and understand all the features of Zoom, but there are definitely some rules of using the video conferencing platform that make the experience better for all participants. Here are some of my best tips to help you enjoy your meetings and co-workers.
- Mute and Unmute your microphone
To help keep background noise to a minimum, make sure you mute your microphone when you are not speaking. Conversely, save your colleagues the pain of repeatedly having to tell you your microphone is on mute when you are dropping your gems of wisdom by making sure you are unmuted when speaking.
- Consider background noise and vision
When your microphone is not muted, avoid activities that could create additional noise, such as shuffling papers, noisy typing, pets or children. Rule of thumb - if you aren't speaking stay muted. As distracting as background noise is, even more distracting can be the actual background you are using. Minimise mess and chaos, personal items or anything that could be deemed 'unprofessional'. Likewise, go for background scenery that is neutral and simple, a bookshelf is one of the preferred choices, or a piece of art.
- Position your camera properly
If you have spent an entire Zoom meeting looking up someone's nose as they balance their laptop literally in their lap, you will appreciate the joy of a well-positioned camera for a Zoom call. If you choose to use a web camera, be sure it is in a stable position and focused at eye level, if possible. Doing so helps create a more direct sense of engagement with other participants and limits awkward moments.
- Avoid multitasking
You can make it easier to focus on the meeting by turning off notifications, closing or minimizing running apps, and muting your smartphone. Take notes manually if you need to and focus on what is being said and the facial expression of your participants. Video calls make it harder to be in connection with people and you need to make an effort to be really present. You'll retain the discussion better if you refrain from replying to emails or text messages during the meeting and wait to work on that PowerPoint presentation until after the meeting ends. If you will be sharing content during the meeting, make sure you have the files and/or links ready to go before the meeting begins.
- Move away from the screen
Take regular screen breaks and encourage participants to stand, move, stretch, hydrate and breathe during long meetings. This will minimise eye and brain fatigue and keep your participants fresh and engaged.
If you want a deeper dive into the features and uses of Zoom for your business, check out our All About Using Zoom Factsheet.