10 Tips For Rocking Your Zoom Calls

by | Sun 3 May 2020

More than 5% of the US population (including myself) works from home on a regular basis. During the current coronavirus pandemic, however, we’re all experiencing a trial by fire when it comes to remote work. Most of us aren’t used to using Zoom so often and a lot of (sometimes hilarious) teleconferencing faux-pas are peppering our days.

Just take the care newscaster featured on Last Week Tonight as an example. While giving his report live, his cat was behind him cleaning itself enthusiastically. Believe it or not, no one remembered what he said – the cat stole the show.

I myself have been working remotely for years. I’ve seen the ins and outs of teleconferencing from the very beginning, and I’ve seen (and made) quite a few faux-pas. From connectivity issues to distracting backgrounds, there are lots of ways to Zoom call correctly…and incorrectly. 

That’s why I decided to give you a list of 10 Zoom DOs and DON’Ts that can help you in this time of remote work, so that you can nail your e-meetings and stay productive! 

#1: Get a Good Webcam & Mic

Nothing is more frustrating than a bad audio or video connection. In a time when Zoom is all we have to communicate, good video and audio is essential. Get a decent mic and camera. Sure, your laptop has these built in, but they generally suck.

I love the Blue Yeti mics, but any decent headset will do.

On the webcam front things are more complicated right now due to limited availability, but Ebay, OfferUp, and other sites often have decent second-hand webcams available. They are well worth it.

#2: Avoid Zoom Backgrounds. 

Did you hear about the woman who led a meeting as a potato because she didn’t know how to turn off the filter? I know it’s fun to flip through the backgrounds and filters, but they can be pretty distracting, especially as you see people weirdly morphing in and out of the background. I had a call with someone last week and for most of it their right arm was floating in midair like a dismembered ghost.

I know, I know, you are going to have to tidy up your office. It is the price we pay, folks. In any case, people love seeing where people live and their lives – it brings everyones’s personalities out.

#3: Use the Beauty Filter

Oof, early morning calls. We all know you probably woke up 5 minutes before your Zoom meeting, everyone did.

If your team prefers video calls over simple audio, use the “touch up my appearance” setting to make yourself look more put together in meetings. I am not sure what kind of voodoo they have built into Zoom, but it really works well.

Of course, I rarely use this feature. I have a beauty filter built directly into my face. Honest.

#4: Ride Mute With The Space Bar

We’re all stuck at home in our quarantines. That means young children, barking dogs, and more noise distractions that could disrupt your meeting.

Mute is your friend. Seriously: I have seen people not realize they were unmuted start yelling at their kids, their dogs, their spouses. I have heard people talking smack about people on the call. I even heard someone take their laptop to…well…the bathroom unmuted.

Stay mute as default and then use Space to unmute for the thing you want to say. Boom. Problem solved.

#5:Use Quick Invite

Many people still don’t use Zoom, or don’t know how. For a client or meeting for someone who you’ve never Zoomed with before, this is a simple way to make sure they’re able to join the meeting easily and quickly. 

When you’re in a meeting, type ?Cmd+I or Alt+I to open the Invite window. Then simply send it to anyone who you want to invite to the meeting.

#6: Record Your Meetings

Sometimes, you want to remember what was said in a meeting. Zoom gives us the option to record the entire session. This is dead handy, especially if you need a record of key decisions and outcomes.

Type ?Cmd+Shift+R or Alt+R to start recording any meeting.

Type ?Cmd+Shift+P or Alt+P to pause/resume recording.

#7: Share your Screen

When it comes to certain projects, describing something verbally just isn’t enough. Sometimes we need to show. Zoom allows us to share our computer screen easily with others for these cases!

To start a screen share, type ?Cmd+Shift+S or Alt+Shift+S.

To pause/resume a screen share, type ?Cmd+Shift+T or Alt+T.

#8: Have Some Fun

Since most of the US is now in quarantine, we’re missing our social interaction. But did you know social interaction is a critically important factor to good health and longevity? Stay mentally healthy by zooming for fun with your friends.

Coordinate a Zoom session with friends on an evening. Get together and have a few drinks or snacks. My wife and I have learned how to mix cocktails from friends on a Saturday night over Zoom. My parents have been playing games over Zoom with their friends. Get creative – it is incredible what you can do.

Here is an example from last night here at Castle Bacon:

#9:  Use Break Out Rooms

Zoom now has a feature called Breakout Rooms built in. With it you can break a larger group of people into smaller groups for discussions.

For example, I join a regular marketing call with some folks. Around 40 people join each session. Then, near the end of the session we all break into groups of six where we have a discussion for around five minutes. Then, we come back to the main group.

This is an awesome way for people to get to know each other in a more intimate setting.

#10: Use the Slack integration

Many of you will be using Slack at work.

Well, the Zoom Slack Integration is pretty neat. You can use it to start Zoom meetings right inside Slack. Just types /zoom to see the available options.

There you go. Happy Zooming!

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