You may have noticed that Zoom was on my recently-released list of things I’ll need to survive the summer. You may even have questioned this choice. I get it. There are days when I feel Zoomed out too, but, overall, I really enjoy the platform.
I’ve been working mostly remotely for about a year. I love the way Zoom helps me stay (visually) connected to my professional peers, students and friends while still allowing me to be at home. I’m a big fan of Zoom, even on days when I’m tired of using it.
When COVID-19 hit, a lot of people began spending as much time (or more) on Zoom as I had been for months. I’ve joked that I was remote before remote was cool. But, here’s the truth, love it or hate it, Zoom isn’t going away any time soon. It’s going to continue to be part of your daily workflow. Because of this, here are nine tips for more professional Zoom meetings, based on my personal observations and experiences.
1. Treat them like meetings
Treat Zoom meetings like you would any other professional meeting. That means having agendas, minutes and professional order.
2. At least get dressed
I absolutely will not tell you to dress up or fix up for Zoom meetings. If I did, I would be a hypocrite. I dressed up and put on a full face of make-up when I first started working remotely. That didn’t last long. Now I dress for the day, put on minimal make-up and attempt to make my hair neat for Zoom meetings.
You shouldn’t feel like you spend more time getting ready for the meeting than you do being productive in and as a result of the meeting. Do us all a favor, though. Just get dressed. That’s easy enough, right?
3. Use mute
Keep yourself on mute when you aren’t speaking. This keeps every sound from your house (usually dogs barking at my place) from interfering with the entire conversation.
4. Turn off your ringer
Turn off your phone’s ringer while you’re on Zoom. If you don’t, I promise your phone will ring or ding while you’re speaking. That’s just the way life works.
5. Plug in
Our internet connections are getting a workout these days. One of the first things I did when I started advising remotely was get a cord to plug my desktop into our router. WiFi just isn’t as reliable and your call will lag or glitch out.
6. Stay still
I’m amazed by how much people move around while they speak. Moving your head all over the place or rocking/swinging in your chair will cause your Zoom to freeze more frequently.
7. Turn on the lights
I have to pick on my college-aged daughter a little bit here. Each time her coaches post a photo of the team on a Zoom call, my child looks like she’s in a dungeon. I get that you love your cozy, dark bedroom for sleep and Netflix viewing, but we want to see your face while we Zoom. Turn on a light or open the blinds.
8. Don’t eat
I have been on two different Zoom calls where a participant cooked and ate lunch during the call. We’re busy people. I get that. But a Zoom call is a meeting. It should be treated accordingly. Cook and eat before or after the call.
9. Get out of bed
This is the single most unprofessional thing I’ve seen during a Zoom call. Yes, some of you may have no choice but to sit on your bed during a call. I get that homes and offices have become one in the same right now. However, at least sit up in your bed.
A Zoom call is a meeting. Unless the call is with your best friend, it’s a professional endeavor. That means you need to get up out of bed, comb your hair and at least put on something besides your pajamas. Just because you can attend a Zoom meeting while lying in bed certainly doesn’t mean you should.
Make Zoom meetings professional
You are making an impression on others when you attend a Zoom meeting. Of course you’re more relaxed at home. We all are. But don’t let that relaxed atmosphere get in the way of making a good impression.