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Zoom Etiquette for Beginners, and the rest of us!

Some of us have been there for a while, but for millions around the world, Zoom has come into your life. The video conferencing tool has been a backbone of the enterprise, but as the coronavirus pandemic has sent students and workers home, most of our meetings have moved online. In this time of social distancing, Zoom and other video conference systems like Google Hangout, Microsoft Teams, and Skype have come to the fore.

For those of us that have had video conferencing for years, we still need reminders of proper Zoom etiquette. For those that are new, I hope you get some benefit from this. Here is a fun look.

  1. Turn on the video: You wouldn’t walk into a meeting with a bag over your head, so why would you enter a video conference room with the video off? Being able to see people as they talk and listen it critical to effective communication. Video is not as good as face-to-face, but better than voice only listening and non-verbal feedback. However, if the voice quality is impacted by limited Internet capacity, participants should turn off their video. (And that enables you to tap out!)
  2. Be presentable: Yesterday, on Day 1 of school closures, I showed up to a video conference unshaven and wearing a baseball cap. Don’t be me! Dress and groom yourself as you would if you were going to work or school, at least from the waist up.
  3. Position the camera to make you look your best: This isn’t a good time to be vain – it’s a GREAT time to be vain! Work out the position of your PC or cellphone so the angle and coloring suit you the best. Most of us look better from higher camera angles and when our faces aren't overexposed. 
  4. Don’t talk over people: There may be a few milliseconds delay, so when you interrupt, it can be awkward. The other person is still talking, can't understand you, and the systems don’t handle crosstalk well. If you want to chime in, hold your hands up or ask permission to interject before making your point. Otherwise you may be talking to yourself.
  5. Upgrade your equipment: Decent headphones will help in terms of voice quality and comfort if you are on conferences all day. You may also want to invest in a webcam, and the good ones can zoom around the room if you like to walk and talk. Webcams also make it easier to get that perfect angle.   
  6. Use the mute button: The mute button is easy to see and click so that background noise such as screaming kids, barking dogs, and you typing in notes (or sending an email) don’t distract from the conversation. Don’t forget to unmute when you have something to say. I see people talking to themselves on almost every conference.
  7. Be on time: Oddly, we humans are tolerant when people show up a couple of minutes late, but intolerant when a bit late for a video conference. So be on time - it isn't as if you are sitting in traffic.

Do you have anything to add? Kindly use the comments section to share your ideas!

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