With the recent move to remote working, businesses have had to find new ways to connect with their staff, partners, and clients. Utilizing video conference tools, such as Zoom, is not something new to the workplace. However, with the shift to remote work, Zoom meetings have now become a necessity as a key aid in the work-from-home culture. Although using a new online tool may be intimidating to some, once you understand some key tips for using Zoom, you can see how powerful and helpful it can be in ensuring your teams continued success. Understanding the correct etiquette and ways to use Zoom can help you avoid common embarrassing mishaps, help increase your team’s productivity, and ensure online security.

What Zoom Should You Use?

Like most online software, Zoom offers various levels for using their platform. Depending on your needs, you may be fine with a free Basic plan, but if you’re looking for a few more features, you may be interested in their Pro, Business, or even Enterprise plans. You can check out the full comparison amongst the plans at Zoom’s website, but here’s a high-level overview.

  • The Basic plan offers great features (and it’s free), but there is a 40-minute meeting limit.
  • The Pro plan increases meeting length to 24 hours. It also gives you the added options of admin support, custom user IDs, and cloud recording.
  • The Business or Enterprise plans allow for added customization with company branding, custom emails, an admin dashboard, and more.

Now That You Have Zoom, How Should You Use It?

Just because Zoom is known as a video conferencing platform, doesn’t mean every call will be on video. Some instances, having just audio is more than sufficient. Whether you’re utilizing the platform for video or audio, it’s important to keep a few key etiquette tips in mind to help keep things as efficient and comfortable as possible.

Tips for Using Zoom Video

Dress Appropriately

We know it’s tempting to sit around in comfy clothes when you don’t intend to leave the house. However, just because a meeting has moved to be on Zoom, as opposed to in person, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t present yourself any differently. You may not need to put on a full suit, but you should be mindful to make sure you’re presenting yourself professionally. Remember, you’re still interacting with the same coworkers that you would normally dress appropriately for in a brick-and-mortar office.

Be Mindful of Your Surroundings

Zoom calls can offer a glimpse inside coworkers lives, based on what is in their background on a video call. When joining a call, make sure your background is something that is work appropriate and that you’re comfortable sharing with others. It’s fine to have personality in your environment, but just consider anything in your background space is a reflection of you as a person. You may consider setting up a space that will be used specifically for video calls. This could be a neutral wall, a book case, or just a space you can easily keep organized. Maybe you want to have a little fun (or just not share your own space on camera). Explore the virtual backgrounds that Zoom offers. Place yourself on a beach, in outer space, or any of your favorite places. At WebDevStudios, virtual backgrounds have become some great conversation starters in team meetings!

This image is two screenshots side by side. On the left is a screenshot of Greg Rickaby, WebDevStudios Director of Engineering, on a Zoom call using the Star Trek Enterprise background with Tom McFarlin on the right on the same Zoom call using a Star Wars Millennium Falcon background.
Greg Rickaby, Director of Engineering (l) and Tom McFarlin, Lead Engineer (r).

Be Aware of Your Camera

This next tip for using Zoom may sound like common knowledge, but it’s important to be aware of your camera being on at all times. If you need to remove yourself from a meeting for any reason, make sure you turn your camera off to avoid any unnecessary embarrassing mishaps (take Jennifer here as an example). When first setting up your camera, also be mindful of camera placement and good lighting. Typically you want your camera to be at eye-level and have a light source in front of you or your computer.

Tips for Using Zoom Audio

Act Like You’re on Video

Even if no one can see you, body language can easily be carried through your voice. Be sure to set up the same way as if your video was on. This will make you feel more prepared and productive, as well as allow you to still fully focus on the conversation at hand.

Utilize Headphones

A photograph of the back of a woman's head as she looks out a window while wearing headphones.If solely relying on audio for a conversation, be sure to remove any outside distractions by utilizing headphones. This helps to keep your attention on the conversation with minimal distractions and can also help reduce excess feedback on the call.

 

Ensure Your Audio Levels Are Good

Without visual cues as to when someone may be talking, it’s important to attain accurate audio levels. You want to ensure your voice is not too soft (or loud) so that everyone can understand you clearly.

Tips for Using Zoom Whether Video or Audio

Don’t Be Afraid to Use the Chat Feature

Zoom has a great chat feature that allows you to either message an entire group or specific individuals. This feature is helpful in reducing interruptions in a conversation, sharing links, or documenting questions to revisit at the end of a conversation. 

Use the Mute Button

This next tip for using Zoom is a whopper. Pay close attention. Use the mute button. It can help keep distractions at a minimum and keep the focus on the main speaker. It’s important to be mindful of all participants, especially since talking over one another in a Zoom conversation never turns out well. When it’s your turn to talk, or if you have something to share, simply wait until the speaker is finished, un-mute yourself, and share your thoughts.

 

How Should You Prepare for a Zoom Meeting?

As with any meeting, you want to ensure you’re using everyone’s time as efficiently as possible. If it takes five minutes in the beginning of a meeting to get everyone logged in and set up, then that is valuable time you’re taking away from everyone involved. Before sending out a meeting for a Zoom call, make sure you ask yourself if your meeting invitation includes the following:

  • Video link and/or call-in number
  • Password, if required
  • Whether or not you’ll be utilizing a waiting room
  • Whether or not your Zoom meeting will be a video call or audio only

Also, if you’ll be recording the meeting, make sure participants are aware. You can share this in the meeting invite as well as at the start of the meeting. Zoom even offers a feature to enable a recording disclaimer users must accept before joining.

How Do You Ensure Your Zoom Space Is Secure?

With the increase of users online, security is always a concern. When Zoom saw a huge increase in remote working and more users on their platform, Zoom bombing started to become a huge issue. This event is where uninvited users join private meetings, and the results are usually not only disruptive but invasive. To help combat uninvited guests, Zoom put some new security features in place that anyone can take advantage of.

  • Setting Passwords – Any host can set a password that would be required for joining a private call.
  • Waiting Room – You can select if guests can join before the host or wait in a virtual waiting room. With a virtual waiting room, no participant can join unless specifically let in by the host.
  • Lock Meeting – If you know all participants are present, you can lock the meeting so no one else can join.
  • Chat, Screen Sharing, and Naming Settings – Zoom allows the host to control what features attendees can access. You can remove access to the chat, the ability to screen share, or disallow participants to alter their names (a feature that’s useful in a classroom setting when children are involved).

Additional Tools You Can Use with Zoom

Although Zoom is an online platform, there are some physical hardware pieces that can help improve your user experience.

Camera Covers: If you feel uneasy about leaving your camera exposed when not being used for video, you can buy a webcam cover. Essentially, a webcam cover is a cover with a sliding door that can easily be moved to show or hide your camera. Check Amazon for some affordable options.

External Microphones: Adding an external microphone to your computer setup can help ensure crisp, clean audio. This may be especially helpful for those who find themselves on calls often throughout the day. A lot of time, external microphones can come in the form of headset with a built-in microphone (and headphones) or something that looks like a microphone straight out of a DJ booth. There are many options out there at various price points. Shop around, but just make extra sure that whichever you choose, it is compatible with your computer system.

Headphones: We all know the distractions that home life can bring. Having a handy pair of headphones as part of your remote work setup is perfectly acceptable. They can be any type that you find most comfortable, but as is the case with your external microphone, just make sure they are compatible with your particular setup.

As a 100% remote company, WebDevStudios relies on Zoom to communicate amongst our team and with our clients. It’s become one of our go-to tools in building a successful remote culture. With the shift to working remotely, it’s a good idea to rely on these tips for using Zoom in order to prepare yourself and allow time for familiarity with a new set of tools that are becoming part of the new everyday work life.

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