Personal Finance

How to Zoom your way to better meetings

zoom

During the Covid-19 induced transition to online meetings, vast proportions of professionals spend much of their waking work hours trapped in Zoom meetings. FILE PHOTO | NMG

scottbellows

Summary

  • Unless you are discussing top secret military defence plans, then perhaps the risk for an errant attendee slipping into your meeting has negligible risks.
  • The participant already holds the email, calendar invite, or WhatsApp with the Zoom details.
  • They can easily do some research on your organisation and name themselves whatever they want in their Zoom account.
  • So, judging by their names and letting them one by one into your meetings, provides a false sense of security just like when compound guards have visitors write down their unverified names and details in a visitor logbook.

Hello……can everyone hear me? Hello…..Please mute yourselves if you are not speaking…….Are you paying attention? Who is listening?

During the Covid-19 induced transition to online meetings, vast proportions of professionals spend much of their waking work hours trapped in Zoom meetings led by ineffective host facilitators leading to a metaphoric vortex filled with boredom, dissatisfaction, and demotivation.

Inasmuch, building on John Kageche’s three points in his Business Daily article last week “Adapt your ‘Zoom’ presentation to capture audience”, let us examine how to confound expectations and build your professional reputation in the Zoom meetings that you host.

WHAT TO AVOID

First, starting with what NOT to do, first, letting in one attendee at a time into the meeting is distracting for the host and significantly lowers the meeting attendees’ experience as the host pauses, misspeaks, slows down, and disturbs their rhythm as they repeatedly over and over again stop to assess and then let in participants. Even if a second host manages the meeting admissions, attendees waiting in a cyber void to enter with no communication as to what is happening proves a low user experience.

Unless you are discussing top secret military defence plans, then perhaps the risk for an errant attendee slipping into your meeting has negligible risks compared to the decreased attendee felt meeting quality discussed above.

The participant already holds the email, calendar invite, or WhatsApp with the Zoom details. They can easily do some research on your organisation and name themselves whatever they want in their Zoom account.

So, judging by their names and letting them one by one into your meetings, provides a false sense of security just like when compound guards have visitors write down their unverified names and details in a visitor logbook.

Second, avoid pre-sign ups. Just give a link in the Zoom chat during the session for serious meeting attendees to register their interest. Requiring the added bureaucratic step of pre-registration for webinars, public lecturers, marketing awareness campaigns, drops attendance by more than half. Unless you will discuss top secret trade practices and the like and absolutely must keep out folks, then knowing who will attend in advance proves of negligible benefit compared to the measurable disadvantage.

Third, do not require a separate irritating password that must be physically entered onto the screen. The intended participants already have the link anyway. Whatever communication carried the link also carried the password. Therefore, requiring an inconvenient password creates a false sense of security while lowering user experiences. If some errant person does interrupt your meeting, you can easily and quickly drop them off the call.

Fourth, do not say the annoying unprofessional phrases: "everyone mute your microphones". Such terms and phrases simply just mean you survive as an ignorant host. You can see all the microphones in your participant list that are emitting noise at any given time and you can just mute them yourself. Act like a smooth master of ceremonies, not like a clunky technology confused ignoramus who just likes to be heard with useless filler talk.

Fifth, recording sessions that no one will ever bother to listen to later presents an unnecessary hurdle. Zoom should mimic real life as much as possible. In a seminar, training, or meeting in a physical space, are those recorded? Almost never. So then, why record all Zoom meetings? It makes participants less likely to speak up, present creative ideas, or challenging the status quo. Inasmuch, do not just arbitrarily record all your Zoom meetings unless you hold a specific legal reason necessary for doing so.

WHAT TO DO

First, when creating your meeting settings, enable the waiting room. So, when you arrive into the meeting, you can put up a welcome screen sharing slide with your logo.

Then, once you are all set up, you allow participants into the meeting with the branding, ambiance, and professionalism all set up.

Second, every time you enter a meeting you hose, turn the share computer sound on. Inasmuch, you can play theme music or background music as participants enter the meeting, go to breakout groups, or at the end of the call. It increases the professional feel of your meetings.

Third, understand troubles with Zoom glitches. While screen sharing a slide, Zoom sometimes makes it difficult to work on other things in the background, such a Excel or Word pop ups, or other PowerPoint slides while unable to keep Zoom sharing the original.

Going into breakout rooms, Zoom cannot keep sharing your placeholder slide. Entering back into the plenary, it resets your meeting settings and you must turn the "sharing computer sound" back on. Also, Zoom cannot share pre-defined breakout groups meeting after meeting.

Know the Zoom downfalls so you can work around them.

Fourth, if indeed you will utilise PowerPoint slides during your Zoom call, then eliminate some participant boredom and create eye catchers. Never never never just put up slides with loads of words, which proves no different than other good presentation skills.

But in Zoom times, also include more use of the slide transitions feature in PowerPoint. Since users lack the physical experience of sitting in the same room as the presenter, fun, professional, and noticeable slide transitions might liven up your presentations on Zoom.

But keep in mind, avoid the extreme motion transitions.

In summary, plan your Zoom meetings not just what you will present, but how you will present, how you will serve like a master of ceremonies, and how you will boost your professional image.

Dr Scott may be reached on [email protected] or on Twitter: @ScottProfessor