SMILE, YOU’RE ON CAMERA!
By Anne M. McCarthy
Zoom-bombing, forgotten mute buttons, eating on camera – when you move from your corner office to your dining room table, video conferencing brings a whole new set of protocols.
While it might seem like work-at-home is destined to create a host of technology nightmares and generate viral faux pas, we’ve actually seen the technology become much more user-friendly. It’s the unwitting “user error” – especially when it comes to Zoom etiquette – that seems to be on the rise! Here are some tips and tricks the Westmeath Netsortium of virtual consultants have found crucial to leading productive and positive meetings through the screen:
MASTER THE MIC. Communication is different when it’s virtual. Agree on ground rules ahead of time and adopt the best practice of identifying a ‘master of ceremonies’ in advance. For instance: how should someone politely interrupt if they need the speaker to slow down or would like to interject? The hand-raise reaction button is the politically correct way to send a signal to the meeting leader without cutting the speaker off. Account for potential lags in videos and take longer and more frequent pauses; that will give space for others to chime in. Make a habit of muting your mic when you’re finished speaking – background noises (especially sidebar conversations with others at home or rambunctious pets) can make for an awkward moment!
PRESERVE YOUR IMAGE. While working from home, maintain your personal brand. Consider body language that can (and can’t!) be seen from the screen. ‘Zoom casual’ still means brushing your hair and wearing something presentable (at least from your waist up) – regardless of your corporate culture. Set yourself up in a comfortable and quiet space and remember, you’re always on camera!
TEST YOUR TECH. Preparing the content before a meeting has always been a must – but via web, it’s just as important to know how you’re going to navigate the screen and manage your tools. Spend time with Zoom and its features before the meeting. Practice with a socially-distancing friend or coworker while catching up (try sharing your slides, use the chat section, and, for bonus points, impress your colleagues by changing your “virtual” background image or using the whiteboard function)! Be sure to send out agendas prior to meetings – organizing the meeting will help keep things running smoothly in case of a tech mishap.
STAY SECURE. As Zoom becomes a necessary tool for countless businesses, schools and non-profits, it’s also turned into an easy target for harassers to hijack meetings with ‘unscheduled programming.’ Consider investing in a paid subscription to a Pro, Business, Education or Enterprise Zoom account, send URLs and meeting IDs on private channels to prevent interlopers from accessing the link, and follow Zoom’s recommendations to make sure your meetings are for your eyes (and ears) only.
Of course, nothing beats face-to-face meetings or in-person conversations. Why not use this time to master the platform now and lead by example? Oh, and if you decide to host a “Zoomtini party” after hours, you might check with HR first, or at the very least, make sure the record function is off!
PS: For real pros who need help staying focused during those LONG Zoom meetings, we thought you might enjoy this “Zoom Bingo” card to help keep you engaged.
1. What’s your biggest Zoom (video conferencing) pet peeve?
a. Attendees forgetting to mute/unmute
b. Participants talking over one another
c. Screen freezes
d. Anti-social, multi-taskers who type, text and refuse to turn on their video
2. Pick up a new trick? Have a Zoom etiquette tip to share? What about your most embarrassing moment?