Five Basic Tips for the Zoom Newbie
Before We Get To The Tips
First, I should share that I’m no longer a Zoom Newbie. I’ve been using Zoom for over two years. I’ve used it for business meetings, to chat with family members, to check in with friends, to attend workshops, and even to attend Church. It’s a very versatile program, and it has drastically changed how we humans communicate. Luckily, it was already in place before COVID-19 shut everything down.
Secondly, Zoom is not the only video chat program that I’ve used. In addition to Zoom, I’ve also used other programs, including Skype, Microsoft Teams, and several others. I must say, to me Zoom is just intuitively easier to use. Most of the people I connect with have little or no difficulty installing it and running it. There are the exceptions, but Zoom is generally user friendly.
With that said, I’d like to share five basic tips for using Zoom if you’ve little to no prior experience. These are not directed at the Zoom veteran. I’m addressing mainly those of you who were just thrown into video conferencing without so much as a cheat sheet.
1. Test Your Equipment
I use a Logitech microphone that sits on my desk, along with Logitech speakers. I don’t use earbuds or a headset, although a lot of people do. I just think it makes the experience seem much more natural if you don’t have a headset on. I also use the video camera that came with my computer. You can get a separate camera if you wish, but if you’re just starting out there really isn’t a pressing need.
As with anything electronic, be sure to test your equipment before the meeting. In Zoom, there is a handy “test” feature available. Go the settings (the little round icon that looks a little like a flower), and drill down to check your video and audio. There are several other settings on that page. Don’t worry too much about those when you’re starting out.
2. Be Early
Actually, I do this with all the meetings that I attend. I show up early, so that I can settle in. If I’m just a participant, I generally show up about two or three minutes early to meetings I’m attending. If I’m hosting the meeting, I back that up to 5 to 10 minutes or more, so that I have time to address any technical issues that may crop up.
It’s a personal pet peeve of mine to have people show up late, and then disrupt the flow of the conversation with, “I’m so sorry I’m late, but I just had to finish alphabetizing my spice rack. What did I miss?” First, I don’t really care why you were late. Secondly, you’ve just disrupted the entire meeting flow with your entrance. Lastly, now we all feel the need to back track and catch you up, which is just disrespectful of other people’s time.
3. Be Camera Ready
For the love of God, check out your surroundings before you join the meeting. Look at what shows up behind you and to your sides. Move or cover up anything you don’t want the entire world to see. For example, if you have a file folder labeled “Divorce” clearly visible in the background, you may want to move that off screen.
Also, take a few minutes before the meeting to check out your personal appearance. Is your hair combed? Did you brush your teeth? Is your clothing clean? Are you glasses smudge-free? These are simple things to check in a mirror before you get on camera. There is no need to “dress up” unless you want to do that. But you should at least be presentable.
I usually pick a solid color top. Since only my torso is visible, I don’t worry about what pants I am wearing (except for the fact that I am, indeed, wearing pants). Some people will advise you to wear business attire for meetings – top and bottom. This is probably wise, just in case you need to jump up from your desk to close a door, turn off a fan, etc. If you’ve forgotten to wear something “bottom appropriate,” you also have the option of turning off your video feed briefly while you take care of business.
4. Actively Participate
Come to the meeting prepared to participate. Ask questions, make comments, and generally join into the discussion. Unless it’s intended to be a “one-way” communication, you should strive to be an active participant. Review the agenda and prepare your notes in advance for any business meeting. Jot down a few thoughts you want to include if it’s something more personal. Don’t just show up and sit there.
Also, try to stay awake. It’s annoying and disrespectful to nod off during a meeting in person, and same goes double for an online meeting. Drink some coffee, splash some cold water on your face, pinch yourself, or whatever else you need to do to wake yourself up and be alert.
5. End On Time
Just like “in-person” meetings, you should have a designated start and end time. It’s also a good idea to plan more time than you need, as opposed to running out of time at the end. You may want to intentionally specify an ending time that is not “on the hour.” For example, the meeting starts at 2 PM and ends at 2:45 PM. For business situations, this encourages people to stay on point, and gives you time to prepare for your next meeting, if it starts on the hour at 3 PM.
Got Any Hot Tips?
If you’ve got a hot tip, I’d love to hear them. Please include it in the comments section below.
Which tip do you think is more important?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Carolyn Fields