At the start of the pandemic, we all thought social distancing rules was going to bring an end to office meetings. Boy, were we wrong! Within a space of three months, Zoom users skyrocketed from 10 million to over 200 million and we kept on with our meetings, even from the comfort of our homes.
Even as we gradually resume our routine, the work structure will never remain the same. For one, the use of Zoom for meetings, conference calls, webinars, online classes, and more is expected to continue. That’s why we’re going to explore tips to enhance your experience when using Zoom for conferences.
Special Tips for Hosts
- Pass on the instructions early
Ensure that you give people the instructions for using Zoom beforehand. This will help those that don’t have the app to download it and set it up.
Furthermore, send the link to individuals that will be attending early on. You can also set a password for the meeting and share it privately with attendees. This helps to avoid zoombombing, a situation where trolls share and post inappropriate or offensive materials.
- Get on the call early
If the call is scheduled for 10:00 am, ensure you get there at least 5 minutes earlier. Why? Some participants will probably get there on time, and the last thing you want is for them to get on to other things (maybe Facebook) because the ‘host’ isn’t available yet.
Also, be prepared to engage in small talks as you wait for others to join or pending the time you commence the call.
- Set the Ground Rules
When having a conference call involving multiple people, it helps to set some ground rules to facilitate the meeting. For instance, you can explain that people would need to put up their hands to speak. This works well because it prevents multiple people from speaking simultaneously, which can make it difficult to hear what they have to say. Furthermore, it makes it easier to notice people that want to speak.
- Watch what you screen share.
Screen sharing is one of Zoom’s key features that’s better than any other video conferencing platform. But if you’re going to be sharing your screen with attendees, be aware that Zoom will show anything that’s on your screen once you click on “screen”.
Therefore, do well to close down windows you don’t people to see before you enter screen share mode. This may include your bank account details, a funny cat video, or an intimate email from your spouse.
- Make use of the chat function.
The chat function on Zoom allows participants to put up messages or important links. For smaller meetings, participants can notify the host if they’re leaving without disrupting the flow of the conference call through the chat function.
The chat function can also be used to receive questions. This is particularly true of webinars, where you have only the host speaking.
However, the chat function is sometimes abused by some participants, who start a side discussion that distracts others from the meeting. Make sure to inform participants not to run side conversations during the call.
- Mute others while you speak.
If you’re the only one that’s going to be speaking or presenting during the call, do well do mute the others. This will help reduce the amount of background noise. The last thing you want is to hear a participant crunching on some snacks or typing on their keyboard.
As we’ve identified earlier, if anyone has any questions, they can raise their hands. You can then unmute them to allow them to speak. Overall, this gives a better structure to your Zoom conference calls.
- Take advantage of Zoom’s numerous functionalities.
There are several features offered by Zoom that can enhance the quality of your conference calls. Some of which include:
Recording of the meeting.
Disabling of private chat.
Creating recurring meetings with saved settings and one URL.
Collecting information from attendees.
Giving attendees a waiting room.
- Be the last to leave
Once the host closes the meeting, the call ends. Do well to ensure no one gets cut off while making a last-minute point. A good strategy is to hand around until others close out of the meeting before you finally end the meeting.
Special Tips for Attendees
- Mute your microphone.
When you’re not speaking, make sure to mute your microphone to eliminate background noise from your end.
- Limit distractions
Ensure that you’re focused on the call. No moving around or checking of unrelated apps, like social media during the call. If it helps, mute your smartphone and close all running apps. Similarly, avoid multi-tasking during the call. Put a hold on those emails or presentations you want to work on till after you’re done with the call.
- Prepare in advance
If you’re going to be sharing content during the meeting, ensure you prepare the files or links in advance. This helps the call to flow seamlessly.
Ensure that you comb your hair and apply your makeup before joining the meeting. Do not do that in front of the camera! Also, wearing a plain, color shirt will help bring out the best in you.
Many people fumble when it comes to lighting. Ensure that the room is properly lit. But more importantly, avoid sidelight or backlight or sitting at the back of your window, as the camera will expose for the light and make you into a silhouette.
The focus of the call should be on your face – not some rumbled clothes you have at your back. That’s why it’s recommended to use a plain and simple background as it minimizes distractions.
Ensure that your eyes are on the same horizontal level as your webcam. If you have to put books under your laptop to achieve that, then do it. This will help prevent funny-looking angle projection of your face. Also, do not sit too close to your screen to avoid displaying a super big head!
The closer you are to your laptop’s microphone, the better it sounds. However, we’ve identified that you shouldn’t sit too close to your laptop. That’s why investing in an external microphone is prudent, especially if you regularly host Zoom calls.