Since lockdown you will have experienced the joys and pitfalls of using Zoom whether it is for work or play. I have been using it on an almost daily basis and I have picked up a few do’s and don’ts to help improve your presence.
But what are the potential pitfalls of this platform we all find ourselves in and what can we do to overcome them?
Here are my 10 top tips to help you optimise the way you use zoom and appear more professional.
- Make sure your participant name aligns with who you are
Common errors I have seen including having your husband’s name on the account and (I kid you not!) Senôr Big Cock (left over from a Zoom quiz) – not a good look at your workplace Monday meeting (although it did raise a laugh all round!). I sometimes include my job title in my name if I am running an online training session. *Note: you can only change your name after you have joined a meeting (participant – rename).
2. Switch your camera on!
You don’t want to be in a meeting of a group of little black squares – yes, you may have to get out of your pyjamas and at least put a presentable top on but don’t be like this guy and get caught without your trousers on!
3. Take care with lighting
Don’t sit with your back against a window as you will appear in shadow. Sit opposite the window and let the lovely, natural light reflect on your face. *Side note: make sure your camera is not pointing at the ceiling (iPad users!)
4. Consider your background
Think about what image you are projecting. A plain white wall doesn’t have much personality, but too much clutter looks distracting and disorganised.
5. Virtual backgrounds
These can be fun but will depend on your computer spec or the use of a green screen. Personally, I use one all the time (yes, my house is a mess!) I like to use them for different settings; for example, when teaching a course about social media I use the logo of the platform as my background.
Think about which room in the house you are going to Zoom in (if you have the choice). Is the internet connection good? Will you be disturbed? And while pets and children can be a welcome distraction and raise a universal ‘awww’, your partner in his underpants will not!
7. To mute or not to mute?
That is the question. In larger meetings it is polite to mute yourself to reduce background noise and allow everyone to focus on the speaker. If you are running the meeting it is fine to take control of the situation and mute all (set the ground rules first!) and ask participants to unmute themselves when you ask them to speak. I recently attended a large Zoom event (100 participants) and it was amusing to hear minor domestic discord – mute yourselves, people!
8. Using the chat
The chat box can be useful for leaving your contact details or web address (during a networking meeting for example). You have the option to chat to everyone, or to one person in private (depending on meeting settings), but do bear in mind that the chat can be saved (including any private chat), so leave those sarky comments about your boss for later!
9. Sharing documents
If you are sharing any documents or web pages during a meeting, have a little practice beforehand and make sure everything you need is open and ready. There is nothing worse than seeing someone fumble around trying to find a web page and accidentally showing an embarrassing search history!
10. Think about framing
I have seen so many participants of Zoom meetings looking like they are struggling to be in frame, with half of the frame left blank. I elevate my laptop on a shoebox to get the camera to the right height.
I hope these top tips will help you to appear poised and professional in your Zoom meetings.
What pitfalls have you encountered during your Zoom meetings? Do you have a funny story? Leave it in the comments below.
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(I promise I won’t be in my PJs!)