If the thought of sitting through one more Zoom meeting makes you want to hide under your desk, you’re not alone. We’ve all had to readjust our work lives to the new reality of social distancing at a pace nearly unheard of in business — and there are definitely going to be a few speed bumps along the way!
Now that the novelty of Zoom has worn off, it’s time to work toward using this powerful technology to our advantage. Let’s start by eliminating some of the most common problems with Zoom.
Virtual Backgrounds are great…until they are not
Using a virtual background at all times is a bit like using an Instagram filter while speaking to your colleagues. It’s fun at first, but then it begins to get distracting — or, worse, undermines the seriousness of your message. (Plus, those backgrounds have the unnerving effect of making you look like a cyborg when you move onscreen.) Save those sandy beaches and the Eiffel Tower for Zoom happy hours with friends.
Welcome People to Your World
Zoom becomes much more inviting and welcoming when you create an attractive space. I like to think of my Zoom setup as the place where I’m hosting a fireside chat. Don’t be afraid to surround yourself with personal items like books and photos, but declutter stacks of papers and other messes.
Don’t Abide by Different Rules of Etiquette
In the real world, we wouldn’t come in and out of meetings or zone out when someone else is speaking. So why do we click our cameras off and on when we’re on Zoom? Why do we clearly get distracted by private chats or email during our virtual meetings? Avoid multitasking and you’ll get more out of your meetings.
Zoom requires us to think like film directors and frame ourselves properly. The most common mistake I see is leaving too much space above the head, which risks cutting off the view of your space when you toggle between the speaker pane and the gallery pane. Get ready for your close-up by placing yourself squarely in the center of the screen (this is especially important if you’re using two screens at once).
Know Your Medium
Speaking on screen is much more intimate than speaking onstage — think of the difference between a theatre actor’s exaggerated movements and a movie star’s controlled actions. Avoid big hand gestures (hands can appear distorted onscreen), don’t bob and jig around while you’re talking, and make sure that people can see your facial features and reactions. Focus and direct your energy to the people watching you from their own screens.
If you’re finding it difficult to be productive on Zoom, let me help. I have conducted hundreds of meetings and seminars via Zoom and can chair meetings for you or teach you and your team how to have more effective online gatherings. In just a session or two, you can learn how to beat Zoom fatigue and use this tool to your advantage.