April 3rd, 2020
How to get the most out of ‘Zooming’ & video conferencing
Most people in the business world will have heard of ‘Zoom’ by now or seen screenshots of businesses’ virtual meetings on LinkedIn (yes we have shared a few!!).
We’ve found Zoom works well for meetings, both formal and informal and it has become a firm constant in our working from home life. We’ve been experimenting with its features and also seen some fine examples of good and bad ‘video etiquette’ on the calls and webinars we have joined. So we’ve pulled together some hints and tips which we hope both newbie Zoomers and those more up-to-speed will find helpful. Of course many apply to video conferencing in general.
1. Getting on Zoom
You can download the App for free both on your phone and your computer. With a basic ‘free’ Zoom account you can join calls and talk 1:1 to people to your heart's content. Any calls with more than three people and longer than 40 minutes need to upgrade to Zoom Pro. You can find out more from Zoom here.
For professional use, we suggest using Zoom on a computer / laptop rather than on a phone. The image is more static and professional and you position yourself in front of your camera.
2. Joining a call
Choose video When you first join a call you will have the option to join with or without video. We recommend you do use video! You can check out what you look like on the screen before joining. We know, it may seem daunting at first having a video meeting but in these very isolating times seeing familiar faces, whether it is your team or clients, offers a sense of normality and a slice of comfort helping to boost morale.
- Think about your setting and make sure the background is tidy so people on the call are not distracted. If you want to block out your background completely you can choose an image as your background.
- Consider lighting - don’t sit in front of a window or in a dark place and make sure your face can be clearly seen on the screen.
- Use the mute feature - if you are worried about background noise you can join the call with your microphone on mute. On larger group calls it is good practice to mute yourself when you’re not talking.
3. How to effectively use Zoom features
- Use the chat feature - in the bottom of your screen you will see a feature to chat. You can use this to message the other people on the call if you are on mute.
- Raise your hand - also at the bottom of the screen there is ‘reactions’ button with a hand raising image, so you can make the meeting host aware that you want to speak.
- Viewing other people on the call - you can choose to view everyone as a ‘gallery’ or just the host of the call or whoever is speaking with a small image of each of the participants. Experiment to find out what works best for you.
4. Keep it professional
- Dress appropriately for the virtual meeting. You will feel better and more professional if you get into ‘your working from home’ appropriate attire and your clients and team will take confidence from the fact that you appear calm and in control.
- Let your family members or housemates (and your dog), know that you have a video call and how long it’s going to be to avoid unexpected interruptions.
- Make sure you have the right equipment e.g. an agenda, notes, pen and paper and, like an office meeting, have a drink to hand - being prepared will minimise the chances of you having to leave the call for various things.
- Set up your profile image - you can add a professional image as well as your full name to your profile, so if your video cuts out people can still see who you are.
5. Connection issues
Of course with the majority of businesses working from home for the foreseeable there is a surge in the amount of people using the internet during the day causing connections to struggle.
- Dodgy broadband - If your broadband is not up to speed, then Zoom will optimise the best connection. This means your video might drop out or your screen may freeze. If this is the case then it's best to turn the video off. If that doesn’t help have someone call you and put you on loud speaker so you can still hear / participate.
- Schedule meetings off the hour, as on the hour is when most people will be logging on which can impact people’s internet connection.
- Conference calls are still an option, If that doesn’t work, save your bandwidth and the faff of trying out different ways around it and use the good old trusty conference call instead.
6. Hosting a meeting
- Be time efficient - We’ve found some of our client meetings have been more time efficient and to the point compared to how they usually are in the office which is an added benefit. We’ve also found that meetings are more intense and so it is good to keep meetings short so that people have time to get up and move around. If you need a long chat, maybe break the meetings into short sessions.
- Appoint a chair and share an agenda - We highly recommend that someone is appointed as the leader of a meeting (even small team meetings) and that an agenda is agreed prior to the meeting, so people can follow and to make the most out of your allocated time.
- If you are the chair, you can read some very helpful hints and tips from our friends and colleagues Nat McMillan from McMillan Associates and Michelle Mook from Pro-Development here.
- Familiarise everyone with the ‘etiquette’ - A great thing about Zoom is multiple people can join a call but many businesses are only just getting used to it and so with that in mind, it’s worth setting aside a couple of minutes at the start to go the ‘etiquette’ on the call eg. how to muting when not speaking.
- Encourage participation and be prepared to speak up - If you are in charge, give everyone the opportunity to speak and manage people so they’re not speaking over one another. Similarly don’t be a lurker and make sure to speak up when and if necessary. So come prepared to share ideas!
- Take breaks - Zoom meetings are more intense than real face to face meetings and so we recommend avoiding having back-to-back meetings. Allow time for breaks and have 15 minutes in between calls if possible. This gives you time to take a breather and put the kettle on, whilst you calmly digest the previous meeting or simply switch off for a few minutes...it is ok to do that!!