Rules of (Zoom) Engagement
Updated: May 20
I know many people struggling to adopt appropriate protocols for team and client meetings as they move from in-person to phone and video conferencing platforms.
Here are some important things to consider:
When scheduling a remote meeting it is important that all participants have their cameras switched on. It should be the responsibility of the meeting organiser to ensure that the host and participant video is set to on. And only in circumstances where a participant is otherwise unable to join a meeting (for example, extreme internet lag when the camera is switched on) should they be excused from having the video on for the duration of that meeting.
Why is this Important?
Body language is critical to effective communication. In current times we are talking about important issues and moving at great speed - it is more important now, than ever, that we minimise room for miscommunication
Video keeps everyone accountable, ensuring they are paying attention and not multitasking during an important call
As humans we are hardwired to look for faces. Video helps find and keep our attention for longer.
Video calls help keep dispersed teams connected and aligned
And, in times of social distancing it is important to ensure people feel connected. Isolation and mental health are ongoing concerns. As mentioned in my article on 10 rules for successful remote working, planning at least one or two video (or phone) meetings each day to connect with the outside world is important
Responses to Frequently Raised concerns
In Zoom there is a virtual background filter. You can find more information on it here. If you , or anyone in your team, has concerns about about making the inside of your home or work area visible (noting we're all working in a state of disarray at the moment) then encourage people to use virtual backgrounds or even host a quick competition for the best virtual background in each meeting.
In Zoom there is a touch up my appearance filter which adds a soft-blur effect to the participant, for anyone who is for whatever reason feeling self conscious being on screen and up close. You can find more information on it here. I personally am torn on this feature, because I think we should be encouraging body positivity and confidence.
Other Best Practises
Always go on mute when you are not speaking. Remember that not only can everyone hear your computer keyboard click clacking when you type (or your dog barking in the background) - but the Zoom feature to focus on the participant who is speaking means that you will be highlighted to everyone else on the call when you are making these noises.
Set non-intrusive alarms to remind you of upcoming Zoom calls, so that you can be on time. Working from home means you do not have the social prompts around you, like you would in the office, to remind you to join a meeting.
Dress appropriately. This doesn't mean dressing up like you are going to the office. But it is important that you aren't in your bathrobe. See my previous article on 10 rules for successful remote working about the importance of getting dressed each day.
Be kind to yourself and others.
Expect distractions and lack of perfection. Forgive interruptions and understand that people are not operating business as usual. For example, many are trying to balance working from home and child care.
Remember that you are always seen when on a call. Don't make the mistake of the university student in the US who went to the bathroom during a class call!
During difficult times and conversations, smile. It will alter your body language and tone.
*Please note that this is not a paid article or promotion. Zoom is just my personal preferred video conferencing tool. There are many others including Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams.