We are all dealing with change right now. One potential change for you is becoming accustomed to using video conference. Being a user myself before social distancing and now a regular user, I’ve got 35 tips to share about Zoom and video conferencing in general.
- Circulate an agenda beforehand. For some reason, many drop the usual formalities of a meeting when it’s transformed to video conference
- Pre-plan for the meeting if you’re the organizer since a mastery of the technology (and using functions like the breakout room, screen share or whiteboard) needs to happen on your own time, not during the meeting
- If you’re leading the video conference, ask participants if they can see your screen share. You don’t want to be talking at length about a document that everyone should be seeing that’s not actually there!
- Check the tech. Test your setup before the video conference starts. Make sure you have Internet connectivity and that your webcam and microphone are working. You may also have to download the software if it is the first time you are using the application.
- Check invitation acceptances if you’re the organizer and ensure that the essential people will be in attendance (or reschedule if need be)
- If you’re going to lead the video conference, it’s nice to have a co-host who will manage the tech side of things or chat room
- Clarify time zone differences – this can really make a difference!
- Use slides or the whiteboard function. People retain 80% of what they see
- Keep conversations centered on relevant topics since things can really go off the rails during a video conference (especially with large groups)
- Use the “record” function – with everyone’s consent. This could be useful to you or the group afterwards
- Take a break
- Go to the bathroom before you get on the conference. This avoids having to take your laptop to the bathroom with you (yes, there’s a video about this that’s gone viral)
- Think through where you will be when you are on the conference. Turn off the TV, phone and other distractions.
- Carefully consider what is in the background. Zoom offers the ability to change your Virtual Background in its Settings. (I’ve been using an image of a courtyard in the Caribbean lately just to lighten everyone’s mood – this might change next week:)
- Hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door. Let anyone who will be nearby know that you will be on a conference and should not be interrupted. People are more relaxed about this one right now. I personally love it when a child storms into the room or someone’s cat joins the meeting!
- Look at the webcam when you speak, not at your screen. When you look into the camera, it appears to the other participants that you are looking at them directly
- Use a USB-connected headset instead of using the computer’s speakers, which can improve the sound quality
- Prop up the computer so that you are not looking down at it and practice where to sit so you are framed correctly by the webcam
- Keep your clothing color choice in mind. Check how the colors of your clothing appear on camera. Just like TV news anchors avoid some colors — and most small patterns, pick colors that will show up well on video. Jewel tones or pastel colors work best.
- Plug in your computer so you have plenty of “juice” (battery life) for the conference.
- Have a glass of water nearby in case your throat gets too dry
- Turn off notifications on your computer and close your other software programs. You do not want to be distracted by beeps every time you receive an email.
- “Mute” yourself during the meeting, especially if you need to type or make distracting sounds – it’s really annoying when you can hear other people shuffle about.
- Be aware of your habits because they become amplified when on video. If you like to twirl your hair, everyone else will see that!
- Be aware of your facial expressions:)
- Lean in to the camera when making an important point
- Set clear action items for everyone at the end.
- Forget to silence your cell phone when you are on a video conference
- Talk over each other
- Answer another call when you’re on a conference. If you need to excuse yourself, you can turn off the video option and mute yourself to take a call.
- Chew gum or eat anything during a video conference- it’s distracting
- Be too quick to answer questions. With video, there is sometimes a delay or interference, so make sure you pause before answering
- Talk forever. One of the biggest mistakes you can make on a video conference is not knowing when to stop talking
- Log on with both your phone and computer. It messes Zoom up, particularly in the breakout rooms
- Think you don’t need to wear pants since the other people are only going to see the top half of your outfit. You should always expect the unexpected. You never know when you might need to stand up. Pyjama pants or shorts with a dress shirt, tie, and jacket just don’t work.
What did I miss? I’d love to hear from you!
My thoughts are with clients and colleagues, and their families and businesses impacted by COVID-19. I am committed to working with you to help you through these extraordinary times. Lawyer Coach Paulette