How to Use Zoom After a Year of Virtual Meetings

April 2021
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Early in the pandemic, it was often embarrassing when children or pets came into the room during a Zoom call. A year later, this has become the norm for virtual meetings and these visitors are even considered “welcome interruptions that break up the monotony of back-to-back Zoom calls,” according to a TechRepublic article.

Having access to co-workers’ personal lives has changed many relationships, allowing people to see each other as humans, instead of just co-workers. “We now have an understanding of the challenges in each person’s space and I’ve seen a tremendous amount of empathy for each other,” says Karin Reed of Speaker Dynamics and co-author of “Suddenly Virtual: Making Remote Meetings Work.”

However, “this acceptance of the whole person is still a work in progress,” the article says. Rather than pretend the interruption isn’t happening, solve the problem: Mute audio, turn off video and take care of the situation. Then apologize and resume your conversation.

According to the authors of “Suddenly Virtual,” the most important thing to remember: Keep your camera on. They assert that meetings with cameras on are 25 percent more effective than those without. 

If you’re not feeling up to having your video on, then be honest and say so. It’s acceptable to keep your video off if you need to, just be transparent at the outset of the meeting so “everyone feels like they are on equal footing.”

The lack of audience feedback has also been a problem for many people during Zoom calls. It’s difficult to see people’s reactions while looking into a webcam and also seeing yourself reflected back. Try to use the tools at your disposal like the applause and laughter emojis as well as the chat function to find out what people are thinking.

Remember that best practices from in-person meetings still apply in most virtual situations: “Have an agenda. Start and end on time. Use procedural communication. Deal with conflict in a constructive way. Manage monologues,” the article says. And if you want people to pay total attention, then disable the chat function so that they are not distracted. 

Finally, not all meetings need to be on video. Some communications are better served by a phone call, an email, or a Slack or Teams message. Think about the type of conversation you’re looking to have to avoid Zoom fatigue. 

1. Know that interruptions are OK.
2. Be clear about your camera choice.
3. Give feedback to presenters.
4. Level up your background game.
5. Be thoughtful about timing.
6. Adapt your leadership style.
7. Realize that meeting rules still apply.
8. Keep phone calls in the mix.

Return to Current Issue Internal Comms for Employees Near and Far | April 2021
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