Many employees are returning to their former workstations as offices reopen around the country, but the era of Zoom is not gone. Some firms have switched to a hybrid workforce that combines remote and in-office work, which implies that many of us will continue to use video chat regardless of where we work.
You’ve certainly seen some irritating video-chat habits from coworkers and friends when using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Meet or Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger Rooms, or one of the numerous video chat platforms available. Maybe you’ve been that colleague unknowingly!
Here are seven common ways you could unintentionally ruin your video conferences and meetings, along with advice on how to prevent them.
- Staying off video
You could want to switch off your video during a meeting for a variety of reasons, such as someone pacing in the background beside you, a messy room from last night’s frantic searches, or the fact that you don’t want anybody to stare at you right now. I understood it.
Sadly, your VP probably doesn’t.
A recent Wakefield and Vyopa research found that executives had little faith in those who turn off their cameras during meetings. 92 percent of executives said that these people “probably don’t have a long future with our firm”. The CEOs’ trust in their employees’ capacity to “properly handle” remote work technologies has decreased from about 66 percent to 61 percent, according to the same research.
We are constrained by these viewpoints for the time being, though we hope they will change with time. You may always use a blurred or virtual background to keep the focus on you if you want to view a video but are worried about the background. Simply select a background that is suited for the scenario.
- Typing or being loud while the phone is not on silent
According to my observations, this is the subject that is discussed the most, especially in large groups.
Everyone in the group is suddenly bombarded with noises such as noisy typing, a microwave running, a dog barking, or a young child shouting when someone forgets to mute their device. All of these obligations come with working from home. However, it serves as an additional motivation to put your phone on quiet until you need to talk.
Not muting is disrespectful to the person trying to converse as well as generally bothersome. Fortunately, Zoom has a useful method to save you from being That Person: By heading to Settings > Audio > Mute microphone, you may keep your audio muted automatically. Simply hit and hold the spacebar to rapidly unmute when necessary.
- Consuming, drinking, or smoking
Eating, drinking, or smoking during a video meeting is a significant distraction, much more so than it would be at the office because the camera forces people to focus on your face. Try to adhere to the same guidelines as you would if you were meeting in person.
A word of caution: Some people may find themselves in back-to-back zoom video meetings all day, with little time to eat or drink coffee. In such a scenario, if the meeting is more relaxed, it’s completely fine to make an exception. In smaller groups, it’s polite to ask whether the group minds if you eat, or to explain that you haven’t had a drop of water in hours.
- Looking down at your phone or laptop
Everyone may see you gazing at your phone instead of paying attention to the video meeting just because you’re at home. Keep your phone turned over and to the side so you’re not tempted to look at it. Looking away from the camera to another piece of material on your laptop or computer is equally evident, and anybody you’re supposed to be paying attention to will feel forgotten. Close all other tabs and concentrate solely on the meeting.
In a smaller group, it’s courteous to explain why you’re appearing so focused off camera. Try turning off the camera if you can’t pay the speaker your full attention while you’re in a larger gathering (but, as we mentioned, be aware that makes a bad impression too).
- Exiting the frame without giving a reason
Give the others advance notice if you must leave a meeting for any reason, such as to use the toilet, get a drink, or tend to a child or pet. You may do this verbally or using the chat option found in many of these programs. That way, it won’t seem like you just disappeared overnight. Otherwise, hold up a finger to signify “1 minute” and turn off the video camera until you return to the current call.
- Maintaining an unusual camera angle
Webcams may be problematic; you may believe your laptop is perfectly positioned on your desk or a kitchen table, but all your video chat partners notice is that they can see up your nose. Avoid this destiny by resting your laptop on some books or purchasing a little stand that allows your camera to be at eye level or even pointing down (more tips on that below). That way, the angle won’t detract from what you’re saying.
- Figuring out the technology while on the call
Working remotely and using videoconferencing to conduct meetings and give presentations both have a learning curve. Before performing anything you’ve never done before, like sharing your screen or playing audio, practice with a family member or coworker to prevent tripping and wasting time during the talk. By doing this, you will get more credibility and be able to keep the action moving.
How to Make Zoom Video Calls Better
The good news is this: You may use a variety of techniques to make sure you are participating in your zoom video chats and teleconferences properly and to make the videoconferencing process less odd overall. Here are three suggestions to get you going:
- Look and sound professional online by adopting some easy webcam tips and techniques, such as wearing earbuds and microphones when available and paying attention to lighting.
- Look attentive: When we video chat, we miss a lot of the social and visual clues of in-person chats, such as someone leaning forward to share their opinions. When someone is speaking, nod and smile to show that you’re paying attention.
- Practice active listening: Leave yourself unmuted in smaller group discussions (and when you aren’t typing, eating, or otherwise creating a lot of noise) to offer some verbal response (such as “mmhmm” and “OK”) to demonstrate active listening. In larger meetings, consider speaking more slowly to prevent unintentional interruptions and to give individuals time to interject if necessary.