After nearly a year of working remotely, it’s time to step up your Zoom game. Now that Zoom is second nature, you might be inadvertently letting a few things slide. Here are five mistakes you might be making, and how to easily rectify them.
Looking at yourself.
There’s no reason to see yourself on the screen, other than for checking to make sure your background is tidy and you look presentable. After that quick check, it’s time to turn on ‘hide self-view’. With this option enabled, everyone else can see you, but you don’t have to stare at yourself for the entire duration of the call.
Looking at the screen when you’re talking.
Looking at the people on the screen when you’re speaking makes it appear as if you’re looking down. You can look at the screen periodically to gauge reactions and check for comments and questions, but for the majority of the time you should be looking directly into the camera.
Will that feel a bit awkward? Yes, but it won’t look that way to your audience. A helpful trick is to put a picture of someone you care about on the wall behind your laptop, and look at that picture as you’re speaking. That makes it feel more like you’re talking to someone instead of just your webcam.
Having a messy background.
A messy background is distracting. Always check to make sure that your background is clean and tidy, and there’s nothing in view you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see. Don’t get caught with a messy house, or worse, a not suitable for work object in the background.
Give your space a once-over before joining a call, especially if it’s not a spot you typically Zoom from. Pro tip – to show less of your background, sit closer to a wall. The closer your background is to you and your laptop, the less of it will be in view. When you’re farther away, the camera shows more of the space around you.
Not muting yourself.
Unless you’re speaking, your mic should be muted. Microphones pick up a lot of ambient noise, so if there’s someone talking in another room or a loud noise outside, that often can be heard on your call.
Having everyone on mute eliminates some distractions and ensures that the speaker can stay focused on what they’re saying rather than policing microphones. This means that no one has to hear ‘could whoever is making noise please mute?’ being asked repeatedly during a meeting. It will be replaced with a few instances of ‘could you please un-mute yourself?’ until people get used to un-muting to speak, but that’s a worthwhile tradeoff.
Sharing more than just your screen.
Ensure that you’re not over-sharing when you share your screen. Rather than choosing ‘share screen’, choose to share only the specific file or browser window you need. Close all other browser tabs or documents that are open so there’s no chance of you accidentally sharing the wrong one. You should also mute your notifications – you don’t want anything to pop up as you’re screen sharing.
One final word of advice – beware of filters.
Don’t get caught like the lawyer turned cat of Internet fame! Always check your video before logging on to a call, especially if your children have been using your device or you’re using a different device than you usually do for work calls.
Ashira Prossack is an Internationally recognized career and leadership coach, speaker, and trainer helping people go from surviving at work to thriving at work. She works