Zoom meetings: Experts share tips on how to make the experience pleasant for you and participants

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Woman on video call. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)
Woman on video call. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

Just mere months ago most of us had no idea what Zoom was. But now, many are using the video call platform morning, noon and night to keep in touch with loved ones, attend lectures and host staff meetings.

Video conferencing tools have spiked in popularity due to the global pandemic, but few have had the same success Zoom has had.

It took about two years for Instagram to snag 100 million monthly active users and roughly 18 months for the Fortnite video game.

By comparison, Zoom has gone from 10 million to 200 million daily users in the space of just three months, reports US-based venture capitalist Mary Meeker.

One of the great things about the cloud-based video conferencing service is how you can also send messages to other members in the same call.

But a US-based student who assumed Zoom chat messages were private recently had a rude awakening when she used the function.

Taking lectures online due to the global pandemic, Faith Bryant had been chatting to friends during class, not realising she was sending the messages to the entire group on Zoom.

Her unfortunate gaffe was met with a scathing email from her professor about her “inappropriate” posts.

Faith shared the email from the professor on Twitter, alongside the caption, “I didn’t know my professor could view my ‘private’ convos on zoom.”

The email was posted as a TikTok video, with Faith superimposed in front, laughing uncontrollably at what she’d been sent.

“Dear Faith, I’m reaching out to you to inform you that I can see everything you write in the chat discussion,” the email read.

“My class session isn’t the appropriate time to be sending messages like ‘I’m a bougie ass, ratchet ass, freak b***h . . .’ It is very disruptive to the class and I do NOT condone this kind of behaviour during my lectures.”

Faith also commented on her post issuing a warning to fellow university students who could be caught unaware by teachers when attending classes on Zoom.

“To my fellow college students: Apparently, your professors have the power to enable all convos on Zoom. I also had multiple professors quoting my tweet to confirm it,” she tweeted.

With the sudden shift to online classes and working remotely, many are using Zoom, and other video conference tools, on a regular basis. Here are some tips to ensure a positive experience for you and all your participants.

  • “Ensure that you have a clean, work-appropriate background,” says Zoom author, John Montgomery. “You want your attendees’ focus to be on the meeting content, not your messy office or your amazing art collection. By having a clean setting with work-appropriate art and decorations, you reduce the chance that attendees will get distracted.” He also suggests attending the meeting from a quiet area that has minimal background noise and movement.

  • US-based marketing and corporate coaching organisation, Rachel K Group, cautions that you need to be aware of your mic at all times. “Some Zoom moderators might do this for you, but it’s a good policy to simply mute yourself as soon as you log on. Really, you never really need to have your mic on unless you’re speaking. And for goodness sake, be sure to mute if you’re moving around, eating, typing, or answering a call on your phone.”

  • The Financial Times insists that just because it’s not a real meeting, it’s still important to be polite. “Don’t interrupt constantly. Video calls are a chore to chair. Preparing time-consuming agendas is more vital than ever. Technical hitches are inevitable. Keeping track of who’s online and who has spoken is harder. Make the chair’s life easier and wait your turn to speak.”

  • John Montgomery also suggests looking into the camera when talking instead of looking at yourself. “If you’re looking at yourself on the screen while you’re talking, it will seem as if your attention is elsewhere. Direct eye contact into the camera while speaking gives attendees the impression that you are looking at them rather than off to the side, which creates an environment where everyone feels engaged and present in the conversation.”

 

Sources: Axios, Twitter, Zoom blog, Rachel Group, Financial Times

*Covid-19 is keeping many of us indoors. Our shopping trips have become brief, normal activities have been halted – many have been wondering if they’ll still get their copy of their favourite YOU magazine – and how will we find things to do while indoors?

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