We live in interesting times. The prevalent covid-19 corona virus pandemic is unprecedented in its scope. For the first time in human history, majority of the world’s urban population are in lockdown. In simple terms – no flights, no business trips, no face to face to meetings, no personal training sessions, no classes, no lectures, no family get-to-togethers. Human physical interaction has been reduced to a minimum.
The present situation represents a real loss for many industries such as aviation, hospitality, MICE, education etc. However, for every loser, there’s a winner – the pandemic has been an absolute goldmine for makers of health and cleaning products, hand sanitizers, PPE manufactures, streaming & entertainment service providers, online and delivery service providers etc. However, one company that really personifies the success on the back of the current pandemic is ZOOM.
Zoom is an app that enables online video, audio and chat meetings for groups from people from 2 to as many as 1000. The rise of zoom during this pandemic has been stratospheric as it went from 10 million daily participants in Dec 2019 to in 300 million daily participants in April 2000. A faster success climb than Facebook, Microsoft and many of the world’s other IT success stories etc
As convenient an app Zoom is, for anyone – who is either an IT savvy user or an IT novice home manager – using zoom can be a real daunting challenge especially when you have to hold a meeting with varied characters – some of whom have no working knowledge of the app or other desired zoom meeting sensibilities. Here are Top Ten Tips to getting the best out of working with Zoom.
1. Think Security –unfortunately a new trend has arisen in online meetings: “Zoombombing.” Where a rouge attendee jumps into your chat or meeting uninvited, and puts themselves on camera which can be pretty disastrous in setting where vulnerable children are involved or discreet commercial discussions are being held. Simple tips are not to publicly share your meeting ID, keep meeting password secure, gatekeep attendance by using the waiting room feature to ensure that only people you know get into the chat, limit meetings to those who are logged in to Zoom. For companies and orgs, you can even limit your meeting to those people whose email addresses use a certain domain. Always prevent attendees from sharing screen content without host consent. Finally, you can lock meetings that have already started to prevent new people from joining.
2. Pre-Communicate Ground Rules when you send out meeting log on details to invited participants. The quickest way to ensure you have an effective meeting is to set the stage and rules from the get go. Don’t let meeting attendees sway or disrupt the agenda. It is more difficult in zoom space to subtly regain control of the meeting than it would be in all participants were in one location. Ensure the necessary documentations are shared before the meeting commences e.g. Tell your participants the agenda, muting protocols, videos on or off, recording of meeting allowed or not, meeting greeting protocols and finally how should questions be asked e.g at the end of the talk, during the talk, whether to use chat or voice features to raise questions etc
3. Please Supervise Kids for Online Learning – One of the areas really substituted by zoom is the in-class experience. Zoom has become the de facto go to solution for the online teaching for students of all ages. Even for very young kids. Do not leave kids or other vulnerable participants unattended during meetings. It also helps to keep kids supervised so that the meeting is not a mess of interrupting or distracted kids.
4. Use engagement tools! There is nothing worse than someone droning on for an hour, maybe sharing a dense slide or two. Make full use of everything Zoom has to offer. Screen share, annotate shared content, send out a quick polls, solicit feedback in chat, split your attendees up into video breakout rooms, send attendees to a website and have them fill out a Google Doc. Do whatever it takes to keep your audience actively engaged. By the way, you can tell your audience is engaged during screen sharing by using the Zoom attendee attention tracking feature.
5. Don’t skimp on Your Wifi Connection – Choppy video could be caused by anything—and maybe it’s because your connection can’t handle it when all 85 people in the regional sales team talk or interject simultaneously. If you have options for beefing up your home Wi-Fi, well now you might have a good excuse to do so. A more immediate solution is to save some bandwidth by switching off your video if possible or reducing video quality. Go into video settings and uncheck “Enable HD.” If you’re the host of the meeting, you can make that the default for everyone on the call.
6. Refrain from odious private behaviour – e.g. veg between your teeth, picking your nose. We can see you IN CLOSE UP! So once you’ve clipped those nasal hairs and cut out the gross behaviours, its lights, camera, action! Note, the first item here is LIGHTS. Position yourself so that most of the light is coming from in front of you (behind your monitor or camera), instead of behind you. If you have a window behind you, shut the blinds. Otherwise, you will be backlit.
7. Use a good quality camera and headset instead of your computer’s often ‘average’ built-in ones. Zoom works just fine with the built-ins, but the quality is even sharper with higher quality hardware.
8. Zoom attendee waiting room – Zoom lets attendees get into a video call with or without the host being present. However, it could be in poor form to have attendees in a virtual room together, waiting for you to start. A better solution is to create a virtual waiting room, where attendees remain on hold until you let them in all at the same time or one by one. Precisely how you enable a waiting room depends on the type of account you have. When you set one up, however, you can customize what the attendees see while they await your grand entrance.
9. Prevent embarrassment by silencing desktop notifications
Windows 10 has a built-in features called Focus Assist that does just this. Just head to Settings > System > Focus Assist, and toggle When I’m duplicating my display to On. You can also toggle it manually from the Action Center found at the bottom right of the Windows 10 taskbar. Mac users need to employ a third-party app to automate the process.
10. Be a Pro and Learn a few essential keyboard shortcuts
If you use Zoom regulary, there are a couple of keyboard shortcuts to use to save you time.
I is for invite. Press Cmd+I (macOS) or Alt+I (Windows) to jump to the Invite window, where you can grab the link to the meeting or send invitations to others via email.
M is for mute. Press Cmd+Ctrl+M (macOS) or Alt+M (Windows) when you are the meeting host and want to mute everyone else on the line.
S is for share. Press Cmd+Shift+S (macOS) or Alt+Shift+S (Windows) to share your screen.
If after employing all the recommended tips above and you feel Zoom still doesn’t quite work for you, take heart as you still have options. There are a host of other established software options to use in place of zoom such as Microsoft teams, Skype, Google hangout meet, Joinme, gotomeeting etc Its best to find what works for you and your needs because the pandemic has created a new norm which we cant ignore so we have no choice but to embrace.