So, we've been on Zoom for over a year. But even with many offices reopening, the use of video meeting software will continue to be important as hybrid workplaces take their place at center stage of 2021's workplace trends.
While many of us feel like Zoom pros by now, video meetings come with their own unique set of rules and even those of us who fancy ourselves Zoom pundits may still be guilty of breaking some of these.
Below, here are 17 seemingly small Zoom meeting mistakes that can actually make a major dent in your professional image.
It used to be the case that keeping your camera on for video calls, while encouraged (especially if others’ cameras were on), was ultimately seen as optional. We don’t live in that world anymore. Barring a serious need or special circumstance, right now, your camera should really be turned on, for all of your calls.
In the ever-changing remote world, over-communicating with bosses and colleagues is often critical. But that increased communication doesn’t always have to take the form of an official meeting, much like in our prior working world. If the job can get done via an email or Slack message, and you’re still getting at least some daily video time in with your colleagues anyway, make it a written message and protect everyone’s workflow.
When on a video call, every little sound in your background is going to be amplified. And for calls involving multiple parties, without people on mute, the result can be a cacophonous mess. Be respectful and make mute your default.
Although it’s a good idea to use mute, don’t let it be your constant setting. Meetings conducted over video have a different cadence, in terms of who gets to talk when and for how long. But ideally, you’re still giving voice to your ideas, even if the format feels a little uncomfortable at first. It may be tempting to think you’ll save your point for a Slack message or email after the call, but for the sake of your professional image, try not to become a video call wallflower.
Video meetings pretty much necessitate only one individual talking at a time, and without in-person body language and normal meeting cues, some may struggle with keeping things succinct. Avoid using Zoom as your personal monologue platform, though, and be mindful of opening the floor to others as you would in any meeting. (And, if you’re the senior-most person or leader of the call, try asking specific team members for their input by name to help circumvent video call hesitancies.)
Recently, an eagle-eyed Twitter user alerted people to the fact that for some Zoom meetings, the “private chat” function isn’t so private. Essentially, if the host has opted to save the recorded meeting to their computer, any chats sent publicly — as well as any sent privately — during the meeting will be sent to them as part of the meeting minutes. So think twice before sharing something you wouldn’t want everyone to see.
For the majority of us, our professional lives and workflows look nothing like they did a year ago. It’s easy to think we’re in totally new territory, but a lot of the same processes and rules we had for meetings before continue to apply. Namely, meetings still need agendas and structure. If you start to treat all of your video meetings like less-formal “check-ins,” you run the risk of looking unprepared.
Similarly, being on time for meetings still matters. Your work day is likely more fluid in a lot of ways, but failing to punctually log in for Zoom meetings will send the message that you don’t take them — or, by extension, the people on them — all that seriously.
Memes about wearing pajama pants (or no pants) on video calls abound. But this only works in the scenario you are, in fact, able to remain seated throughout the call. What if your child/partner/dog/roommate starts having a meltdown in the next room and you need to hop up to close the door? What if you spill something? Better to be prepared here.
We all do it: you’ve minimized the Zoom so that you can reference another window during the call, and suddenly, all of your communication and attempts at virtual eye contact have been relegated to the bottom-right corner of your screen. Meanwhile, the camera stays put, as they tend to do, at the top of your computer. When giving a presentation or making a point, try to position the minimized Zoom gallery at the top of your screen, closer to the camera, and give it a direct glance every so often.
No one is (or should be) expecting you to maintain a totally clean, distraction-free background palette throughout your calls, especially for those with kids at home. But still, try to do your best here. Close a door if you can, and inform the other parties in your space when you’ll be on calls. You can also always use a virtual background on Zoom if need be.
Again, background noise. It’s a thing. While using mute is still the best way to go when you aren’t speaking, when you do have the (virtual) floor, headphones can still help with blocking out unwanted background sounds and distractions.
The WiFi struggle is real. Especially with so many people at home and networks under strain, connectivity issues during video calls is only understandable. But there’s still some work you can do to mitigate this on the front end. Namely, don’t wait until the minute your meeting is started to figure out whether your router needs to be rebooted. If you’re having a hard time connecting and it can’t be avoided, try giving the other meeting participants a head’s up in advance.
As Zoom use has been on the rise, so have instances of “Zoom bombing.” This is when someone who wasn’t invited to your private meeting is still able to access the meeting and share content during it, which is unfortunately pretty easy to do. To be safe, hosts can: disable the “Join Before Host” option in their settings; disable “File Transfer;” enable the waiting room feature, so that participants have to be admitted; and disable the “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin” option.
This is a classic video meeting faux pas. If you know going into a Zoom meeting that you’re going to share your screen, take a minute to disable your notifications, including Slack messages and texts if you have iMessage connected to your computer. Doing so has the potential to save you from a lot of embarrassment (or worse) if you’re sent sensitive messages during the course of the meeting.
Okay, another thing. Just because you technically have the ability to share your screen doesn’t mean you should. If the meeting absolutely requires screen sharing so that participants can follow along, then by all means share. If the only thing participants will see, however, is the notes you’re taking — preventing them from, say, being able to take notes of their own — do everyone a favor and try to be mindful of the virtual space you’re claiming.
This article was written by a FGB Contributor.
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