Zoom is a powerful tool to keep us connected when we can't be together in person. We use it for coaching calls, virtual coffee chats and happy hours, online workshops, and team meetings. The possibilities are endless.
The ways to ruin Zoom calls are endless, too. Want to end up the star of a recorded Zoom call that goes viral on social media? You'll guarantee your total humiliation by doing the following:
1. Don't tell your household you'll be on a call.
No really-- I dare you not to warn members of your household in advance. Just kidding. It's important to warn the other people in your house that you'll be on a Zoom call; otherwise, distractions and embarrassment are virtually guaranteed. Your children will scream and run into the room to play, or your spouse will get out of the shower and walk behind you in only a towel. Warn your household first, and fully explain your expectations. We find it helpful to hang a stop sign on our office door before we get on a call so our family knows not to barge in and to be quiet.
2. Avoid muting your microphone.
Go ahead and leave your microphone on while you chew, yell at your kids, and take a leak. If you don't like that idea, then be sure to mute your microphone when you aren't talking. Zoom users who forget to do this will end up with a barking dog, toilet flush, or other background sounds causing distractions. Zoom has easy-to-use controls right on the screen to mute the mic. While we're at it, we'll mention the ability to shut off your camera in case you need to pick your nose, take a bathroom break, or simply eat your lunch. Be sure your camera is shut off when you don't want to be seen. Check and double-check before proceeding with nose-picking and other private activities.
3. Choose not to use headphones or ear buds.
Everyone loves to hear sound feedback, right? Wrong. To cut down on sound feedback, always use headphones. If you don't, the speaker's voice comes out your computer's speakers and goes right back into your microphone as an echo that will annoy everyone on the call. A simple pair of headphones or ear buds does the trick.
4. Avoid checking your lighting and sound equipment ahead of time.
Getting on Zoom in a dark room and making everyone wait while you plug in your microphone is a joy. Um, no it isn't. Make sure you know how to use Zoom before your call. Practice all the features. Test how far away from your camera you should sit. Check your lighting and sound beforehand, too. Good lighting is essential so everyone on the call can see your face properly. The key here is to try it all out before you get on the call so you can make sure everything works properly, sounds great, and looks right.
5. Don't check your background.
Go ahead and get on Zoom in the most chaotic part of your home or office. Show the world your hot mess. Let's be real... Dirty laundry, piles of papers, kid toys, and a cat grooming itself probably is not going to be seen as professional by the people on your Zoom call. Do yourself a favor and take a look at your background before your call. Make sure your background represents you well. When in doubt, utilize a flat wall and a virtual Zoom background.
A little prep work goes a long way toward ensuring a successful Zoom call. Avoid the mistakes above, and you'll be able to connect with others in a professional and productive way.