With a rapid and unexpected move to remote working, we are all dealing with new challenges and fresh experiences. We have no tips to offer for home-schooling, or sourdough cultures, or what to do with your kombucha scoby – but we do have some ideas about how to handle Zoom meetings professionally.
Here are our 14 tips – your mileage may vary.
1. Don’t look at the people on your screen, look at your camera – we like to look at people – but when you’re looking at them, to them it looks like you’re not looking at them, which makes you look shifty-eyed and distracted. Overcome your natural inclination, and look straight into your camera. This is especially important if you have the meeting on a second screen.
2. Try to turn off the view of you that is showing on the screen (not all video meeting formats allow you to hide yourself, unfortunately) – it’s really distracting to see yourself while talking – and you might forget that others can see you and use the opportunity to squeeze a pimple or do something equally gross and unprofessional.
3. You don’t have to wear pants – but you do have to make sure that all of you that is visible in the camera looks professional and like somebody you would like to work with.
4. That goes for what’s behind you, too – people don’t just look at you, they check out your background and people are nothing if not judge-y! Don’t be judged, curate your space!
5. It’s easier to have a video meeting if everyone keeps their video on; this may not be possible, but ask. Otherwise, let’s not use up the national bandwidth, and rather have conference telephone calls.
6. Don’t forget when you are sharing your screen that although in many of the available programmes you won’t be able to see anybody, they can all still see you. Don’t roll your eyes when they ask yet another stupid question.
7. Interruptions happen – to everybody. Do not be thrown into disarray because your partner brings you a cup of tea in the middle of a meeting, or your child is suddenly drawing on your walls with permanent marker, or your cat is emitting weird, unearthly noises that sounds as if he’s dying. Apologise, deal with the interruption smoothly (turn off your microphone, especially if you might use profanities as part of the dealing) and move on. And don’t worry: everyone else in the meeting is also dealing with these challenges.
8. Mute your microphone when someone else is talking – or you will be rudely interrupting them with your own background noise.
9. Have a plan – Zoom meetings go better if they’re run a little more formally. Ask people to indicate in the chat bar if they want to talk, and then call on them by name, indicate up front the agenda and the objectives.
10. Although it’s tempting, try not to multitask too much – just as you wouldn’t ostentatiously answer emails in real life, don’t do it in Zoom meetings. Think about turning off all the distracting pop-ups so that you pay exquisite attention.
11. Don’t eat in the meeting, if possible. Rather wait till afterwards.
12. Position yourself so that most of the light is coming from in front of you rather than behind you – it’s better not to look alien and ethereal in a professional setting.
13. Don’t pick your nose, scratch your armpit, adjust your bra, or anything else you wouldn’t normally do in front of others. We can see you!
14. Don’t get too close to the camera – disembodied heads are difficult to take seriously and you might find your audience is really busy looking at your quarantine regrowth instead of listening to you.