Before the pandemic, the transition to remote working was continuing at its gradual pace. Since then, as we all know, it has become the norm for millions of professionals. Which also meant the rapid adoption of video conferencing tools. For businesses who did not already have a routine of using the major video conferencing systems at the time, like GoTo Meeting, Skype, Webex and Microsoft Teams, many joined the new leader, Zoom.
There are now millions of users of this simple to use group video app, including businesses of all sizes, job interviews, schools, families, churches and other organizations. But as easy as it is to use, we’ve all heard stories of Zoom nightmares. Here are some tips to help get the most out of the technology, keep meetings flowing, and avoid disruptions and embarrassing events.
The first step any business user should take is to password protect meetings, especially if they will discuss any confidential information. Zoom also has a waiting room feature, that lets the video conference host (or an assigned person) see who is trying to join your meeting, before you let them in. The host can also lock a meeting once it is in process, so that nobody else can join.
PRACTICE MAKES... BETTER
Nobody’s perfect, but if you are a new or infrequent Zoom user and will be hosting or co-hosting a meeting, familiarize yourself with the system by doing a practice session with a colleague or family member.
WHERE'S THE CAMERA?
Many professionals have more than one monitor, and possibly more than one computer or laptop at their desk. So, if you will need to be accessing your computer during the video conference, keep in mind that your audience will see when you are turning away to look at your various monitors. For data-driven meetings, this may not be a hinderance, but for more personal topics, or to give a better feeling of connection with conference attendees, it might be best to focus only on the monitor with your camera. If you are using only your smart phone, one laptop with the camera integrated into the monitor, or a webcam that mounts to the monitor, you probably won’t experience this issue.
Default to mute and camera off when starting a meeting. Also, your keyboard space bar can be used to turn on and off your microphone. There are many other keyboard shortcuts, as well.
Zoom includes an easy screen share icon in the bottom toolbar for letting conference attendees see documents, graphics, websites, videos or anything else you want to share. What you can see, they will be able to see, so keep in mind any shortcuts or other files that you may not want others on the call to see.
CHANGE OF SCENERY?
Zoom makes it easy to change the virtual background behind you. You can select from a collection of stock images, or upload your own picture. Zoom also has a built-in “beauty filter” option.
SAVE YOUR CONFERENCE VIDEO
It’s easy to record your video conference even in the free version of Zoom, which can then be shared on your firm or business website, or uploaded to video streaming sites like YouTube. The host simply goes to the settings menu and turns on the recording option, then clicks the record button when in the meeting.
FREE VERSION OR PAID VERSION?
The free version of Zoom allows up to 100 people to attend, so on this aspect, it should be more than adequate for most firms and businesses. However, the length of meetings in the free version is limited to 40 minutes. If you are going to be using the system frequently, and for longer meetings, the subscription plans start at $15 per month (or discounted annual plans). The plans also include more functions for streaming on social media, integrated cloud recording options, and a transcript feature.
Although it’s nice to put a face to a name and reconnect with missed colleagues and staff, and video conferencing also has the benefit of screen sharing and other functions, sometimes an old-fashioned phone call or conference can suffice. Being on video can curtail the ability to multi-task by catching up with emails and other work issues, which may be one reason many workers have even said they are getting tired of too many video meetings.