By now, we all know how to act on our video meetings and calls. What’s appropriate, what’s not. After a year of COVID, we’ve got it down pat. Right….?
Well, maybe not…we still see those comical news stories about the lawyer who accidentally put the cat filter on his video or the host whose kids kept popping up in the background. All of this is still a learning curve. So, we’ve included five tips and tricks below from our own experiences in this new world of Zoom/Teams meetings to help keep you from accidentally becoming a potato during your next team meeting.
1. Where to Look, a Staring Game
Let’s face it. We’re all a bit vain. And in the normal world, the pre-COVID one, we didn’t have the option to stare at ourselves during a meeting.
It can be tough to break focus from that hair that’s out of place or how tired you may look on the screen but it is important to pull gaze from your own face and remain engaged with your team members- even if they can’t see you looking at them.
Looking at the camera directly is good practice when speaking on a call, but as others are in control it can help boost the feeling of engagement when you focus on the person speaking or presenting.
Zoom also allows for you to turn off your camera screen, so you can eliminate that distraction completely.
2. To Mute or Not to Mute, that is the Question
Does putting myself on mute make me look disengaged? Do I need to remain on unmute and add the obligatory “yes” “uh huh” “right, right” after everything my boss says?
On a one- on- one call, keeping that mute button off seems to be best practice. These types of meetings are often more of a conversation, and that natural, responsive “uh huh” keeps both parties engaged.
However, when multiple people are in attendance, it is standard to keep that mute button on until you need to speak or chime in. You don’t want that background noise of the trash truck or your neighbor’s loud music playing when others are speaking. That’s a no go. You also don’t want to be the one called out for a “hot mic.” And don’t get us started on weird obnoxious, microphone static.
3. When Things Freeze
Things go wrong all the time. In person meetings are interrupted by a sneeze or a PowerPoint problem, but virtual meetings bring a whole new set of issues to the table.
Few things can feel more awkward than trying to make small talk when your Zoom presenter has frozen. Usually, participants chime in with a rogue “can’t hear you,” “oops, your video is freezing,” and a slew of other comments along those lines met with long, awkward pauses.
Best thing to do? Notify your team member via the chat that their video is lagging, freezing, stopping, or just acting up.
And when it happens to you, because it will, best thing to do is remain calm and acknowledge the glitch in the meeting chat. It happens to all of us (blame the tech).
4. Let’s Talk Backgrounds
No one wants to see that load of laundry that’s been on your couch for the past week in your background as you present on fourth-quarter goals. We’re not saying that the background of your Zoom call should be curated like a West Elm display room (even though it can be with these fun filters ), but just tidy up a bit or position yourself in a non-distracting part of your home.
Another great option if you can’t find an appropriate space in your house for video calls is using a background image from Zoom, Skype, or Teams that’s is professional or one supplied by your company.
Feel free to leave those pajama bottoms on, just keep it professional looking up top and not distracting on any type of video meeting.
5. Multi-Tasking is a Skill… Sometimes
As humans, we love multitasking. Listening to a podcast while we cook dinner, watch the kids, and talk on the phone all at the same time. Watching a new TV show while simultaneously scrolling through our phones and doing our taxes. The more we can get done at once, the better.
But when you’re in a face- to- face meeting, you can’t just grab your phone and start scrolling. You are supposed to be engaged and subsequently, learn, listen, and absorb more from the meeting that way.
We should pay the same respect and focus in our video meetings as well. Try your hardest to put the phone away, stop checking your emails, and engage in the call.
At the end of the day, we’re all in this weird stage of the world together. Video meetings and virtual work is a learning curve and we’re all going to have to shrug off the awkward pauses, freezes, and static and just roll with it. We’ll get the hang of it eventually and then it will be a new phase of getting back used to those in-person meetings again (no pajamas!?).