Like many of you, I have spent the past two months learning the Art of Zoom Meetings. Somehow, it was uncomfortable at first, though I’m not sure why. I have no discomfort sitting across the table from friends, clients, other professionals and having a discussion. Put me on camera, however, and the insecurity of “how do I look?” or “Am I conducting a Zoom Call properly” or “Gee I hope this isn’t an Epic Fail” suddenly rage through my mind.
My fears became a reality this week when I was charged with “Leading” the call. As I expected, my challenge with technology was visible for all the world to see. It was at that point that I stopped and had to laugh at myself. What was I so worried about? Will I now be judged by my “Zoom Skills”? Will my colleagues think less of me because I don’t know how to adjust the microphone settings? At that moment, I realized how silly it all was. And I realized, this is an opportunity for me to be human, to learn something new, to embrace the discomfort of feeling uncomfortable. When I did, much to my delight, my colleagues laughed with me, and shared their own ‘Zoom Fails’.
It’s fascinating how much has changed in the past few months, and what seems to me is the most beneficial aspect is that things are changing for EVERYONE. We are all learning our new normal together. We are all able to empathize, even sympathize with each other as we embrace our new reality. My Zoom skills (or lack thereof!) do not reduce the value that I bring to my clients, rather, my willingness to embrace this approach will only ensure that I am bringing all that I can improve my clients’ experience.
Tips for Mastering Zoom Meetings
- Get familiar with how to use Zoom. This will decrease anxiety. If need be, do a rehearsal call. Learn how to respond to a chat message, mute someone (including yourself), unmute someone, remove someone from a meeting, record the meeting, and share your screen with the audience.
- Check the Touch up my appearance box in Zoom’s video settings menu. It basically functions like a soft-focus lens, adding a slight blur to skin tones and smoothing out wrinkles, blemishes, and other little imperfections.
- Do a lighting test. Natural light typically works well. The best hours for natural light are mid- to late-morning and early afternoon. If it is an evening meeting, you will have to make sure there is sufficient artificial lighting.
- Consider using a photo background to hide any unprofessional items such as the cluttered office or kids toys scattered around. You can adjust for this in Zoom settings.
- Log on 5-10 minutes before the start time, and anticipate that some participants will log on late.
- Close your other windows, especially email and anything client-sensitive. You don’t want to be in a screen share, end up on the wrong page, and accidentally expose something you shouldn’t have. Do not minimize these screens; close them. Operate under the assumption that if the screen is up, the audience will see it.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Have a glass of water close to the computer – but not within the camera’s view. I once had a coughing fit and I was unprepared.
- Look at the webcam while you talk. It’s a common mistake to look at the other information displayed on Zoom or at your notes. This may have a distracting or jarring effect on the audience.
So I will continue to try, and I know I’ll get better. In the meantime, however, a friend sent me the following after our call, and so I thought I’d pass it along to anyone it might help. Remember-we are all in this together!!!!