Become a Zoom meeting master

How to avoid embarrassing mishaps when working from home

Article

4 minute read

2021-03-11

We’re all aware that Zoom calls can go wrong. Cast your mind back a couple of weeks. We’re sure you’re familiar with Jackie Weaver and the furious debate about who had authority. Sorry, Jackie – you can’t just kick out the chairman like that! On the other side of the pond in the US, we saw a very formal meeting between legal professionals, where one gentleman had to explain to a judge: “I’m not a cat!”. This shows these types of events can happen to anyone. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on creating a perfect Zoom call.

1. Be aware of your surroundings

Not being aware of what’s going on in your background is a beginner’s mistake – but it’s pretty common! You get out of bed and sign in to a Zoom call with important people, only to realise your work room is an absolute mess. Likewise, you may have an inappropriate object in the background (we’ll leave that to your imagination).

Fortunately, if you don’t feel like tidying up, Zoom backgrounds are a lifesaver. What’s more, there’s basically no end to what you can choose. You can use your company’s logo as a background or even select a serene setting like a classy coffee shop. However, this can lead to other embarrassing moments, which brings us to our next point.

2. Avoid inappropriate filters

Maybe you use Zoom in your private life to keep in touch with friends and family during lockdown. Many of us mess around with filters and novelty backgrounds to add a bit of flavour to our conversations. This in itself is no problem. However, these backgrounds or filters usually stay on for your next call, which we imagine is how the Texan legal professional from the viral video we mentioned earlier appeared as a cat. Remember to check if you have a background activated before entering a call and change them to something more professional, if you’re planning on using them. Filters probably aren’t a good fit for work calls, but the choice is yours.

3. Dress to impress

Just because you’re at home and you might have only been awake for 30 minutes doesn’t mean you have to show it. Get up, have a shower, and get ready in the same way as you would if you were heading into work. You’ll look and feel your best. Not only this, it can help you build a barrier between your personal and professional life – something we looked at in a previous blog post. You’ll ensure people aren’t thinking: “What did you do last night?” regardless of how much sleep you’ve had.

4. Keep track of your calendar

Missing meetings is never a good look. While you’re at home, you’re probably at greater risk of doing this. In the office, you’re surrounded by people, some of whom may be in the same meetings as you. This makes it easier to keep track of where you’re meant to be and when.

At home, you don’t have these constant reminders. If you forget to open your calendar first thing, you run the risk of being late or not turning up at all. Fortunately, many calendar apps send you reminders before your scheduled meeting. It’s best practice to open your calendar as soon as you sign in.

5. Check your audio

This is an obvious one, but it’s perhaps one of the most common problems with Zoom calls. We’re sure you’ve heard “you’re on mute!” countless times. This is an easy fix, as it takes a simple click. But sound issues are common in remote settings. For example, maybe your computer audio can be heard by others in the call, which is off putting. Try using headphones and testing your microphone. Once you’ve done this once, you should be set for any future calls.

6. Be a great host or participant

And finally, ensure you give the call your full attention. You’ve probably seen people in Zoom calls doing other things. This begs the question: What are they doing – writing emails, replying to messages, or even messing around on social media? People will appreciate you listening to them and valuing their input.

If you’re hosting a call, be prepared. Key tips here include giving people who need to share their screen permission to do so in advance and ensuring your call won’t time out before the meeting is over. Additionally, turning your camera on makes the meeting more personal and

shows everyone that you’re listening. If you’re ever in doubt, simply treat a Zoom call like a face-to-face meeting.

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Author: Jacob