The changes we have all experienced to our work habits and personal routines is something we never could have imagined at the start of the year.
Restrictions on leaving the house. Offices closed. Two-week waiting periods for grocery pick-up. And, like any major event that captures the attention of our country, the introduction of a new phrase in our common vernacular: social distancing.
I certainly hope that you and your family are doing well during this time as we all work together to make it through this crisis. One way that everyone is trying to be productive during this time is using Zoom for business meetings, internal meetings, and outside-of-work meet-ups.
Our marketing agency has been using Zoom for virtual meetings for a few years to connect with clients and hold internal meetings with our remote staff members. Many businesses and business owners are just becoming familiar with Zoom, which is why I want to share some Zoom meeting tips to have more successful (and professional!) meetings during this period of uncertainty and change.
Zoom Meeting Tips for Businesses
One of Will Ferrell’s most famous sketches on Saturday Night Live is the “Bad Boss.” Pierce Brosnan, who was the guest star for this 2001 episode, famously tried to keep a straight face while Ferrell’s character went over-the-top wild on employees in the office.
During this sketch was Ferrell’s famous declaration: “I am a professional!”
I’m sure many of you have felt the desire to make that declaration since experiencing a disruption in work routine.
Participating in a virtual meeting from your home office or temporary set-up in the kitchen could make you feel like less of a professional when you’re accustomed to “holding court” with clients, customers, or employees in the familiar setting of your company office.
During this time of disruption, let’s alleviate some of the discomfort and make sure you retain your professionalism with these Zoom meeting tips.
1. Find the Best WiFi Spot in the House
Hopefully the best WiFi spot in the house is where you already have a home office set-up. But, if you find that your connection is spotty in the home office, then try moving around the house with your laptop or mobile device to find the best connection.
This is important because you want to have a smooth meeting where everyone can hear you throughout the meeting. A choppy connection will lead to interruptions, miscommunication when your audience can only hear every other word, and, well, unprofessionalism!
And, test your connection before a meeting. Don’t wait until a meeting is happening to start moving around the house to find a good spot. You’ll make your viewing audience dizzy watching you move around the house like it’s a remake of Blair Witch Project.
2. Communicate with Other Household Members That You’re in a Meeting
Now, every meeting is different. If you’re having a serious business meeting over Zoom with a client, you probably don’t want family members (or pets) walking into the meeting causing a disturbance.
On the other end of the spectrum, you might be having an internal meeting that is acceptable for a lighthearted moment when a costume-adorned child slowly enters the room and the camera shot.
The point is that before you start a Zoom meeting, communicate with family members the nature of the meeting you’re starting and why it’s important to be quiet (or when there is an appropriate opportunity to casually enter the meeting).
All of that being said, keep in mind that we’re all in this together. Sometimes you just have to roll with a kid shouting in the background in the middle of a client meeting or an important sales pitch to a new customer. Everyone should be understanding when we’re all adjusting to a new work environment.
3. Arrive Early for the Meeting
There’s the old adage that five minutes early is on-time and on-time is late. Well, that certainly applies here. A good rule of thumb is to be early to the scheduled Zoom meeting time.
This way, you can get set up, arrange the web camera on your computer/laptop or find a good arm position to hold up the video camera on your tablet or mobile device, and get comfortable in your chair.
Your audience doesn’t want to hear you mumbling at the screen about how you can’t find the button to turn on your camera or audio. Take care of that before the meeting begins.
ProTip: when you do get set up in Zoom, select the Gallery view for a meeting with several participants. It may look strange on your screen, like the opening theme for Brady Bunch, but it’s much easier to keep track of who’s arrived for the meeting and who’s talking during the meeting.
4. Adjust the Background
Because of these unique circumstances, clients or employees are going to see you in a completely different setting. So, yes, definitely get dressed as professionally as you feel comfortable in the comfort of your home. And, be mindful of your background!
One of the most enjoyable aspects of a Zoom meeting is looking at everyone’s background. No one is going to say it, but everyone wants to know what room you’re in, where in the house you’re located, what books are on your bookshelf, where you got that trophy, and what that picture is that’s slightly out-of-view.
When you get set up (remember, be early!), adjust your computer or mobile device to where you’re comfortable with the background visible to others. Plus, it can be a good conversation piece to break the ice of a meeting if you have an interesting story about something in your background.
ProTip: if you don’t like the background offered by the room in your house or if you want to change up your background, you can select a virtual background in Zoom. It’s as if you’re in front of a green screen with a variety of backgrounds to choose from.
Also, Zoom has a feature where you can upload a picture as your background. You can place yourself on the football field, at the family reunion, or at the beach right in the middle of the meeting.
If you really want to get creative, you can use a feature from Canva called Zoom Virtual Background. Using this tool, you can create a custom (and professional!) background image that you can upload directly to Zoom. You can use a template, customize the design, download the file, and upload the design to Zoom to use as your background.
5. Use the Mute Button!
One of the most important ways to have a successful Zoom meeting is proper use of the Mute button. This goes both ways of muting yourself at strategic points in the meeting and unmuting yourself when it’s your turn to talk.
– Use the mute button when you have background noise like a dog barking, when a family member pops their head into the room for a quick question off-camera, or if you anticipate another interruption.
– Remember when you’re on mute! When it’s your turn to talk again, be ready to un-mute yourself so that you don’t start a sentence that no one can hear and other meeting participants need to tell you that you’re on mute. So unprofessional!
Okay, it’s not as big of a deal compared to using mute to avoid background noise that could interrupt the flow of the meeting, but get in the habit of using mute efficiently to lead a productive meeting.
An Effective Zoom Meeting is All About Good Habits
Prior to the current disruption, our team worked through many different Zoom set-ups to find what works best for us. We even have a Marketing Refresh Bingo board on our office wall capturing all of the different things that could happen during a meeting, like a dropped connection, a pet/child interruption, or a good old fashioned “Can you hear me now?” call-out.
Working with Zoom requires practice, good timing, and better habits to make sure each meeting with clients or team members is productive. Using these Zoom meeting tips will help you on your journey to more successful meetings. Because you are a professional!
And, we’re all in this together staying healthy, watching out for others by following recommended guidelines, and trying to be productive working from home during the disruption.