Zoom – From a Sound Effect to a Way of Life
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A year ago when the word zoom was spoken it was coming from children playing with model trucks. Today zoom is a proper noun and a way of life. In 2020, Zoom meetings are the norm which means we should have proper Zoom etiquette. Recently my friend Nancy Foster shared an article by Maile Waite.
Waite has identified eleven Zoom etiquette tips we can use to make sure your virtual meetings are professional and valued by all participating.
Before Your Zoom Call
That's right, proper Zoom call etiquette begins before your video conference even starts. Make sure you've done the following three things prior to engaging with your colleagues and/or employees via Zoom:
1. Prepare Yourself
To ensure your Zoom call goes smoothly and is enjoyable for all involved, you'll want to prepare yourself before your meeting starts. Here's how:
Study Up: Why are you meeting with your team? Do your best to acquire all necessary information before your Zoom call starts so that you can effectively contribute. If you've been asked to prepare something specific, make sure you do.
Consider Your Surroundings: In a similar vein, make sure that the immediate area around you (the space visible to your Zoom audience) is clean and tidy. A messy workspace is both unprofessional and distracting. If this is simply not possible, consider using one of Zoom's virtual backgrounds. Additionally, try to log into your video conference from a quiet area as loud background noises can derail meetings.
Test Your Equipment: Finally, we suggest testing your equipment before your Zoom call is scheduled to start. This is especially important if you're using external hardware.
Proper preparation shows respect for your Zoom call attendees and sends a subtle signal that you value their time. Make sure you're 100% ready to go when you login to a meeting!
2. Show Up On Time
Speaking on logging in, make sure you do it on time. Though Zoom calls are generally less formal than in-person meetups, tardiness is still rude. Your colleagues have much better things to do than sit around and wait for you to show up.
If you're going to be late, do your best to notify the meeting host in advance. That way they can warn other meeting participants or even reschedule the video conference if they see fit.
3. Turn Your Camera On
You might think that you can avoid many of the etiquette faux pas mentioned above if you simply turn your camera off during your next Zoom call. No need to dress appropriately or clean your workstation if no one will be able to see you anyway, right?
Unfortunately, this is known as "lurking" and isn't recommended.
We host video conferences so that we can see the people we're speaking with and engage with them in a more personal way. It's very strange to speak to an avatar or black screen — especially if you properly prepared yourself to be on camera.
So do everyone on your team a favor and turn your camera on. Remember, if your background is lacking in professionalism, you can always use a digital Zoom background.
During Your Zoom Call
What about during your video conference? Are there any Zoom call etiquette rules you should know about to help you run a better meeting and/or appear more professional while Zooming? Absolutely! Try to follow these seven tips:
4. Start with Introductions
If you're hosting the Zoom call, set aside a few minutes at the beginning of your meetingfor introductions. This is both polite and will help your team function more efficiently, as it can be difficult to work with someone you've never met before.
Obviously, if your meeting is between long-standing team members, introductions are unnecessary. Though you may still want to set aside time for your staff to hang out and "shoot the breeze" before a video conference.
Studies show that virtual water cooler chats boost team collaboration and productivity, and promote healthier staffers.
5. Look Into the Camera When Speaking
If you look into the camera while you speak rather than at your computer screen, you'll give other Zoom call attendees the impression of eye contact. This will help you create an engaged environment of inclusiveness.
Admittedly, this can be a hard habit to develop. It can feel strange to look at the camera while speaking because you won't be able to see who you're speaking to. But the benefits of implementing this Zoom call etiquette tactic are too important to ignore.
Before your meeting starts, position your camera at eye level so that you can easily replicate eye contact for each meeting attendee and better engage them in what you say.
6. Always Be Present
We know that you hate meetings. We all do… But when attending a Zoom call, be present. Refrain from checking emails, texting others on your phone, or trying to catch up on other non-meeting related tasks. This kind of behavior is both rude and unproductive.
You definitely don't want to be the person who extends a meeting because you weren't paying attention and your colleagues had to repeat themselves to get you back up to speed.
7. Reschedule Lunch Time
Your team-wide Zoom call is NOT the perfect time to grab a bite to eat. Your colleagues don't want to watch you stuff your face — or worse, listen to you chew — while they try to deliver a presentation or share their thoughts on the latest company report. If we're being honest, it's kind of gross and more than a little bit rude.
Be respectful of your colleagues and employees, practice good Zoom call etiquette, and reschedule your lunch break.
8. Eliminate Distractions
We've talked a little but about distraction already, but this Zoom call etiquette tip is so important, it deserves its own section. Distractions come in many different shapes and sizes. Here are a few examples:
Loud Notifications: If your phone is constantly ringing, your colleagues will hear it during your video conference. The same goes for email notifications on your computer. Take a moment to silence these things before your meeting starts.
Messy Surroundings: Like we mentioned earlier, you'll distract your team if you attend a video conference from a messy location. No one wants to see your dirty laundry in the background of your office.
Noisy Backgrounds: Again, please attend your Zoom call from a quiet location. Coffee shops and other public spaces can be loud. Also, be aware of natural sounds like wind and rushing water that are easily picked up by camera mics.
Personal Interruptions: If you're currently working from home and have a spouse, kids, roommates, pets, etc., make sure they don't interrupt you during your meeting. Notify any co-dwellers of your upcoming Zoom call and then close your office door, put on a show for the kids, or invite them to your call and let others in your meeting know you may have some visitors throughout. We are all navigating this new normal together, so find an option that can best work for you.
Unhelpful Opinions: Lastly, unhelpful opinions can be distracting, too, and cause teams to get off topic. The best way to avoid this is to only invite team members to your meetings who actually need to be there and can contribute in meaningful ways.
Do what you can to eliminate these kinds of distractions from your Zoom calls. That way all participants can fully focus on the tasks at hand.
9. Use the Mute Button
Most video conferencing tools, including Zoom, have a wonderful feature that allows you to mute your microphone when you aren't speaking. Use it!
This is one of the best ways to minimize distracting sounds during your video meeting and will even allow you to mitigate unavoidable background noise. Just remember to hit the mute button again and turn your audio back on when it's your turn to talk. Otherwise you'll cause unwanted delays during your video conferences.
While muting yourself is okay, even recommended, turning your camera off is not. You still want your colleagues and/or employees to be able to see you and know that you're listening to what they have to say. Turning your camera off doesn't allow them to do this.
10. Be Respectful at All Times
We shouldn't have to say this, but we will: always be respectful to each and every meeting participant during your Zoom call. That means not shouting over your colleagues to make sure your opinion is heard and keeping derogatory comments to yourself.
In a virtual setting like a Zoom call, it can be difficult to time your communications without talking at the same time as someone else. If this happens, simply apologize and allow them to finish their thoughts before you begin to speak again.
If you happen to be the meeting host, consider asking your employees to use the comment feature built into Zoom to facilitate clear communication. Or, you can call on individual people to get their opinions on certain topics
Decide how you want to handle this before you start your video conference and then notify all attendees of your decision at the beginning of the meeting.
After Your Zoom Call
Whew, your video conference just ended; time to sit back and relax, right? Not quite… Proper Zoom call etiquette requires you to do one more thing before you can pat yourself on the back for hosting an effective digital meeting:
11. Send a Post-Meeting Follow-Up Message
This tip is specifically for Zoom call hosts. After you've wrapped up your get-together and sent each attendee on his or her merry way, you should shoot them all a quick post-meeting follow up message that details all the things you just discussed.
Here are a few important things to include in your follow-up:
Give Thanks: Even if you're the boss and you required your employees to attend your video conference, you should still thank them for doing so. It takes time and effort to prepare and show up to a meeting — even a virtual one — so let your team know that you appreciate them and value their contributions.
Summarize: Next, summarize all of the key points that you discussed during the video conference. This is much easier to do if you assign a specific team member with the task of taking notes during the meeting.
List Action Items: What do you want your team to do after your meeting concludes? Let them know! Be as specific as you can in your follow-up message, include any needed resources, and clarify deadlines for all action items that you've assigned.
Invite Questions: At the end of your follow-up, invite your team to ask you any questions they have. That way they feel comfortable coming to you if they don't understand something or need your approval to move forward on a project.
BOOM! Once your post-meeting follow-up message has been sent, you can finally sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you've adhered to all Zoom call etiquette best practices. Proper Zoom call etiquette will ensure your virtual meetings go smoothly and each person on your team feels respected and valued. We encourage you to implement them ASAP.