Given that Coronavirus has forced us all to stay inside and work from home, team collaboration and client meetings have now transitioned to conference calls online, with Zoom quickly becoming the world's favourite social network.
Zoom is suddenly everywhere; all of our colleagues, friends and family are using it right now to work remotely or connect with loved ones.
If the Coronavirus emergency has taught businesses anything, it's that technology is the key to continuity in times of crisis, so it's highly likely that this remote working trend will continue long after the pandemic passes, with Zoom at the forefront. In light of this, we thought it would be useful to share some tips and advice that we've found helpful over the last couple of months whilst using Zoom.
This seems obvious, but it’s important to turn your video on. Otherwise, you’re phoning in whilst everyone else in the meeting is communicating face-to-face. Avoiding showing your face on Zoom is the equivalent of looking like you’re not paying attention during a company meeting! So, help normalise the experience for your clients and colleagues, letting others know you’re engaged by keeping your video on.
If you’re struggling with setting up your video on Zoom or Skype then make sure that you’ve granted these applications access to your 'Camera' and 'Microphone' by checking your ‘settings’, this way you can avoid the embarrassing struggle to get these sorted during an important meeting. If your apps need updating they may end up crashing during a conference call and you risk missing important content, make sure you regularly check for updates ensuring your tech runs smoothly now that you’re relying on it most!
Make sure you dress accordingly. If you’d normally wear a shirt to work, don’t convince yourself that it’s okay to stay in your pyjamas because you’re working in the living room, dress as you would in the office. This will help you prepare for the day ahead; the more put-together you feel, the more motivated you’ll become, and the more productive you’ll be. Especially if you have a client meeting in the diary, as it’s important to appear professional even though you may be working from the sofa.
Poor lighting and camera placement are now the equivalents of coming into the office unshowered and unshaven. So, try sitting in a room with good natural lighting in front of a window, at a desk, or at your kitchen table. This way others will have a good view of you and the camera will be elevated to eye-level avoiding all of those unflattering angles. If you don’t have a desk or access to a table at home that’s not a problem, you can purchase a laptop stand on Amazon or eBay, or create your own using books or a box for example, as long as you’re eye-level with your webcam you’ll appear more professional.
Make sure you test your camera, audio and laptop placement beforehand. Try and sit near your Wifi router if you can, or at least an area of your house where you’ll receive a good signal. We’re all experiencing network and connection issues at the moment, so poor quality video is something I’m sure your colleagues and clients can excuse, but try and slay the issue beforehand by avoiding dead spots in the house.
If you’ve got a sales presentation in the diary and you’ll need to share your deck, portfolio, or examples of projects, practice ‘sharing your screen’ with a colleague beforehand to make sure that everything runs smoothly whilst you’re presenting to potential clients.
It seems a little strange, but remember to stare into your camera rather than staring around the screen, it feels weird but will look natural to everyone else!
If your house is a noisy place at the moment, now that the whole family are stuck inside, or you spend most company calls frantically scribbling down notes or typing, its best to put yourself on mute by clicking the microphone button in the bottom left corner, this way you won’t distract others from the person talking. Although, if you’re invited to a team discussion or collaborative session, avoid calling in and staying on mute, you’ll appear uninterested. Adjust your microphone accordingly knowing when it's time to listen and when it's time to get involved.
Get your background right; if you’re hosting a meeting, try and ensure you’re sitting in a tidy room, avoiding anything that’s garishly distracting in the background. By sitting in front of a clear wall, for example, people will stay focused on you, and not the objects behind you. Obviously, we don’t all have blank walls in our house, so in simpler terms, just keep your background clean and tidy, avoiding last nights dinner plates and the screaming kids .. if you can!
On the other hand, if you’re office environment is fairly informal, and you’re catching up with colleagues rather than clients, make the most of Zoom’s selection of backgrounds which can be accessed by clicking ‘video settings’ in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. Whether you choose the Simpsons’ family couch or the Iron Throne from GOT, updating your background will give those weekly catch-ups a more relaxed vibe. Better yet, we discovered Snap Camera last week, allowing you to access all of your favourite Snapchat filters during a Zoom meeting, open up Zoom ‘settings’ under ‘preferences’ and select ‘snap camera’ under the video tab for access to these filters.
If you’re a company that enjoyed weekly drinks and socials pre-Coronavirus, then transition into the world of post-Coronavirus socialising by organising quizzes and games for your team via video call. Virtual beers and coffee breaks are a nice idea, or why not set a weekly theme and encourage colleagues to dress up or wear a fun accessory. Sporting animal print for a Tiger King-themed quiz or asking everyone to join your weekly catch-up in a quirky hat will help keep morale high, as we’re all bound to be feeling a little less motivated and a little more disconnected at this time.
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