Over the past year, video-conferencing tools have become an irreplaceable part of our work culture and will undoubtedly continue to play an important role post-Covid.
It’s also led to some pretty hilarious Zoom moments, like having your cat climb halfway up your face during a meeting or accidentally showing your pyjama pants (aka the modern ‘office’ nightmare).
But, now that virtual meetings are the new norm, it’s time we put more effort in to make sure they run smoothly. So we’re here to help you prepare for the future of work with some tips for being a good Zoomer.
Don’t worry, they're not as hard as you might think!
There’s always someone who pops into the Zoom meeting 10 minutes late. It’s not a huge deal, but it can get a bit irritating for your team mates, especially if it occurs on a regular basis. Plus, with all the appointment scheduling tools out there, there’s no excuse for showing up late to your virtual meeting anymore!
Zoom allows hosts to schedule meetings and send participants invitations ahead of time. By connecting Zoom to your calendar of choice, including iCloud, Google Chrome or Outlook, you can have appointments lined up in your planner and receive notifications five minutes before the start of each session.
This is particularly useful when you are constantly worrying about being late for important meetings or losing the links and passwords you need for each meeting.
Like many work-from-home guides suggest, finding a dedicated quiet space at home for office work, and Zoom meetings, is key! Trust us, it is not a good idea to conduct your Zoom meeting from the comfort of your bed. Sitting at a desk, at dining table or anywhere you can place your laptop at eye level is preferable for a few reasons.
Firstly, it is much better for your posture. Secondly, placing the camera too low may be unflattering while having a camera angle from above may come off as unprofessional. Having your laptop aligned at about eye-level with at least an arm’s length distance is perfect.
Good lighting is another feature to consider. Try placing your laptop by a window or in a place where you’re facing the window head-on, rather than having your back to the window.The sunlight can brighten up your video, making you appear more energized than you might feel. If natural light isn’t accessible, a desk lamp will do the trick.
And of course, avoid having a busy and cluttered background, or sitting in front of anything reflective such as a TV screen or a mirror. Preferably, your Zoom background should be a plain wall or a neat bookcase if you have such a space in your home. There is also the option to use a virtual background, but don’t forget to pick a plain background photo.
If you simply can’t find a suitable spot in your house or feel you can’t get away from other household distractions, you can always opt for a co-working space. Try the BOOQED app (available on Android or iOS) to find a workspace or meeting room near you that you can rent by the hour or the day to take any important Zoom meetings.
Zoom takes a little time to set up, so preparation is key. Before starting or entering a meeting, you can check your Zoom settings a few minutes before the meeting is set to start so you can make sure everything is ready to go. The “mute microphone when joining a meeting” audio setting is a must to make sure you are not interrupting the call with loud sudden sounds.
For those of us who are not great at remembering names, the “always display participant’s name on their videos” setting is what you need in Zoom (and in real life). The waiting room setting can also be toggled off for private and large meetings so you don’t have to admit each participant individually.
Zoom also offers a “touch up my appearance” setting which softens the focus of the camera and lightly touches up your skin. While facial filters may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it sure comes in handy for one of those days.
Last but definitely not least, check your internet connection prior to each meeting. Having to runaround and sort out your WiFi at the last minute or being cut out halfway through a presentation is not fun. Take a few minutes beforehand to make sure your internet signal is strong will save you a ton of grief in the long run. Bluetooth earphone users should also do the same with their devices to make sure everything is connected and ready to go.
Don’t you just miss the good old days in the office when you could easily read each other’s non-verbal cues and body language? Effective non-verbal communication is just as, if not more, important in virtual workplaces. Someone’s tone of voice, posture, hand gestures and facial expressions can show engagement to ensure effective communication in a video meeting.
Lagging internet speeds as well as audio and video delay can feel disorientating for participants. For that reason, if you’re the one speaking, try to slow down and work some pauses into your talk to ensure everyone has time to listen and catch up. You should also pay attention to your posture, especially when it comes time for you to speak. Having good posture reflects confidence while being slouched can indicate disinterest. Don’t be afraid to show a few hand gestures during your speech but don’t wave your hands around too much.
Whether you're more of a speaker or a listener, it is important to make an extra effort to display active listening without interrupting your fellow Zoomers in the virtual workspace. For instance, nodding or showing a little smile can show understanding and engagement. People might not realize that small gestures like this shows that you’re listening and lets the speaker know they’re not boring you to death! In short, make the most of what you have and take advantage of non-verbal cues from the waist up.
It is easy to get overwhelmed and feel lost with the ever-changing world of working. We hope that these tips for the best Zoom etiquette can be helpful and serve as a little reminder for successful and effective communication in a virtual working environment.