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The COVID-19 pandemic has sent many of us out of our offices and into our homes. That means we have to stay with colleagues — not to mention friends and family — from home. Zoom has risen to become the most popular platform for video calls and meetings.
While many find video conferencing to be less stressful than going to physical meetings, Zoom meetings can themselves bring new stresses that you have to navigate.
Over the past few weeks, which have felt like months, I’ve done several Zoom meetings a week for work and friends. I also use Skype for personal video calls from time to time, but Zoom is much better for group video meetings. Along the way I’ve learned by my mistakes.
I’ve distilled the past few weeks of Zoom experience into three simple do’s and don’ts each.
#1: Do check your internet connection
If you’re relying on Wi-Fi, make sure that everything is good before starting the meeting. I usually disconnect and reconnect and check the signal strength prior to a meeting. Speedtest.net is a good test, and you can check your results against Zoom’s system requirements (which vary depending on what you’re doing).
#2: Do check your speaker and mic
Buried in Zoom’s Preference’s is an Audio tab where you can test the mic and speakers. I suggest checking these before every meeting. Also, you can access more in-depth settings related to background noise suppression and echo cancellation by clicking on the Advanced button at the bottom of the screen.
#3: Check your video
Again, Zoom’s Preference’s screen is the place to do this — click on Video. Look at the lighting and composition (no one wants to spend the whole meeting looking up your nose). Check the lighting (can people see you?) and also look for anything confidential or embarrassing that might be in the shot (especially if you move about).
If you plan to use a virtual background, check that this works properly prior to the start of the meeting (in the Zoom Preference’s screen click on Virtual Background).
#1: Don’t update Zoom or your OS immediately prior to a meeting
Yes, it’s a good idea to keep Zoom updated, but I’ve had updates take a long time to download and install, I’ve had updates mess with settings, and I’ve had updates fail and leave me having to uninstall and reinstall Zoom.
Same goes for operating system updates. Just leave them until after your meetings.
#2: Don’t rely on your laptop’s battery
If you’re Zooming from a laptop, have it connected to the charger where possible. Video conferencing is very demanding on the hardware, and the last thing you want is to be left scrabbling for power.
Another added advantage of having the laptop on power is that you can bump up the screen brightness if you find that your face is hidden in the shadows (have an app in the foreground that has a white background to boost the effect).
#3: Don’t have distractions on the screen
Facebook, Twitter, email and the like are all distractions, and people on the other end of the meeting will be able to tell if you are distracted by things.
Close anything that’s not needed. Not only does that reduce on the potential for distraction, but it also means that you’re less likely to have something pop up and make a noise.
Remember, being totally prepared BEFORE your meeting will help you avoid the mistakes I made. The quicker you get your meeting done, the quicker you can get back to other things!
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