Town Talk Features

The Velvet Hammer: 6.17.20

Ever since COVID-19 kicked into high gear, most of my business meetings have taken place on Zoom or a similar platform. You would think by now, my colleagues and clients would have gotten the hang of these videoconference calls. However, I’m amazed at how many could use some Zoom etiquette. Any tips?

Unfortunately, there are a number of people who are still grappling with FaceTime, let alone Zoom! The underlying issues of these video platforms are a matter of knowing how to act, where to look and what to wear. Here are a few tips that might help your officemates and clients Zoom more successfully.

Before your next virtual meeting:

Think about what you should wear. Although the current Twilight Zone we’re living in seems to have given us permission to wear sweats and an old T-shirt, please resist. Instead, dress to impress. Your colleagues and clients expect you to look a certain way. Before you select your wardrobe, consider the possibility that your supervisor could even be looking for his/her next team leader. So, dress as if your meeting is in person.

Invest in quality equipment. Part of looking and sounding good will depend on the quality of your webcam, speaker and headset. Think about investing in quality equipment that will outperform your computer’s built-in system. In addition, be selective where you join the meeting in your home. Try to find a quiet, indoor space to control ambient noise and provide an appropriate backdrop with good lighting.

Talk to your camera, not your computer screen. The tendency is to look at the computer screen, but you should learn to speak and look at your camera when you’re talking. This will make it look like you are speaking directly to the audience.

Mute your microphone when necessary. Zoom has a mute button that can reduce ambient feedback for the rest of the participants. It should be used when you are listening to someone else speak.

Use the chat feature. Instead of interrupting the speaker with a question that can be answered by someone else, use the chat button to send a question or comment to everyone or privately to a participant.

Think about your body language. Always remember that everyone can see you. Someone is watching you roll your eyes, take a big yawn, stretch or walk about the room. These movements become exaggerated on Zoom and are distracting to participants; they also can be disruptive to the speaker. Try to keep still and remain attentive.

Joan Lee Berkman is a marketing and public relations consultant. If you have a question for Joan, send it to business@townandstyle.com.

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