2020 really has been the year of the Zoom meeting. No longer are we piling into conference rooms around tables, listening to our boss talk — usually about something that could be sent in a quick email. No, these days it is all about Zoom, or other online conference software.
There are some clear advantages to virtual meetings — you can do it from your bed or sofa, with a cup of tea to hand. You have not got to put up with Alan from accounts bad breath or Helen from HR’s habit of stealing your pen.
You log in, do your bit for the meeting, log off and well, jobs are done.
However, a Zoom meeting can be a little bit daunting, especially if you are not particularly technological or are a little self-conscious.
Throw in kids/noisy husband/cat that demands fuss/dog that barks at every single noise, and well, they can actually be more stressful than sitting in a meeting room in your power suit.
Survive A Zoom Meeting
Here, we look at a few tips to help you to prepare and get through a Zoom meeting. Read on to find out more.
Get Dressed and Brush Your Hair
It can be more than a little tempting to turn up to a Zoom meeting in your pyjamas or comfy leggings and hoodies, but unless that is standard attire for wherever it is that you usually work, don’t. It looks incredibly unprofessional.
Not only that, but it does not put you into the right frame of mind for a productive meeting. No one is expecting you to put on a full business outfit with heels, but something that is smart/casual is usually a pretty good call.
Of course, if you are having meetings with clients, you may need to up your game and wear business wear. If in doubt, ask colleagues or even your manager. It is better to ask and get things right than not to ask and get things wrong.
You also need to be aware – if you are new to the world of Zoom calls — that you will spend much of the time being able to see your own face looking back at you, and that can be more than a little unnerving.
You will notice things about your face that you have never spotted before and spend an inordinate amount of time asking yourself ‘how much do veneers cost?’.
By making sure you have washed your face, brushed your teeth and made your hair look something resembling tidy — and, if you usually wear it, makeup — you will feel a lot better about staring at your own face.
Consider your background
In an ideal world, managers, colleagues and clients would be very understanding of the fact that things are not as normal and that people are having to work in all sorts of environments.
The average family home is not ideally set up for meetings and video calling.
However, as with everything, not everyone is quite as understanding as they should be. If you are taking Zoom calls or meetings in your untidy bedroom with that semi-naked boudoir style picture of you on the wall and you bra hanging off the bedframe — well, there may be some judging.
Equally, a big-name client may not be overwhelmed by professionalism if you are taking a call in your kids bedroom complete with Paw Patrol wallpaper.
However, even if you feel like there is no suitably neutral and clear walls or backgrounds in your home to have behind you in a Zoom meeting, there are some simple ways around it.
First of all, take a look at the background options on Zoom itself — some of these may be useful, depending on the context of your meeting. Alternatively, pin a large white bedsheet to the wall and sit in front of that — it hides all multitudes of sins!
Try to avoid sitting in front of a window where possible, as this can make you much more difficult to see, and opt of places that are as clear and clutter free as possible.
You want the people you are talking with to focus on you and what you are saying, not trying to look at he photos and what is going on behind you.
Don’t eat or drink
As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t do it in a real life meeting, don’t do it in a Zoom meeting.
Having a glass of water or cup of coffee to hand is just about acceptable but remember, everyone in the meeting can see you, and it can be a little off-putting to hear people slurping and gulping away.
If you need to have a drink, turn off the mic if possible — if your mic is on, the camera will automatically focus on you. If you do have a cup of coffee on the go, choose your mug wisely — make sure there are no rude messages that people see if you hold the mug up!
Again, treat it like you would a real in person meeting.
Be entirely present — do not allow yourself to be distracted by your phone or something going on off camera. Maintain eye contact, unless making notes, and participate in the conversation.
Do not pick your nose, clean under your fingernails, or wander off to use the toilet!
Have everything ready
Before you join a Zoom meeting, make sure your technology is prepared. Plug your laptop in, make sure your WiFi is working, have your notebook and pen and any notes to hand.
The last thing you want to be doing is hunting frantically for your charger as your laptop starts going flat or getting up to look for notes — also a good reason for making sure that you are fully dressed!
Zoom meetings are likely to be around for along time yet — perhaps overtaking the need for face to face meetings.
Follow these tips to help you survive them without ending up as a viral news story or the laughing stock of your workplace.