Zoom Skills: How to improve your VIDEO-CONFERENCING skills.
How are your video-conferencing / Zoom skills?
(image Unsplash @ visuals)
Since COVID-19 was declared a world-wide pandemic in March 2020, Zoom has become:
- one of the most downloaded apps
- one of the fastest growing companies
- part of our common vocabulary, a generic term for video-conferencing in any form, such as Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, House Party, etc.)
- *** a necessary communication skill!
Read on to learn:
Zoom Skills BASICS: a review of common suggestions
4 pointers on using your HANDS in Zoom calls
3 hacks to help you make EYE CONTACT during a Zoom call
6 ways to STRATEGICALLY INTERRUPT in a Zoom call
(image Unsplash @ cwmonty)
You can skim this email or click the links to learn more.
Let’s do this!
A REVIEW OF ZOOM SKILLS BASICS
Let’s start with the basics. Here’s a summary of 7 common suggestions for how to rock-it with your Zoom skills:
1️⃣ STABLE INTERNET CONNECTION
(image Unsplash @ theeastlondonphotographer)
- Dropping calls is not cool. If this happens frequently, you might need to upgrade your router.
- Depending on your connection quality, you might ask other members of your household to go on airplane mode (or at least stop streaming movies during an important call!).
2️⃣ YOUR BACKGROUND
- Tidy up. (This is a meeting, not a dorm party! ?)
- You might want to use a Zoom background or create your own from a photo.
- Update the title that shows under your image…
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking and ask others to do the same! (Tip: Use the space bar when you talk so you don’t need to fumble with the MUTE settings.)
- Turn off fans and other loud noises. (Tell your people to shush!)
- Ideally seek natural and indirect light.
- No, you don’t need to buy a ring light. You do need to ensure the light is on your face, not behind you. (Unless you’re in the witness protection program!)
(image Unsplash @ schoelderle)
5️⃣ CAMERA POSITION
- The camera should be at eye level. (We don’t want to look up your nose or down on your big shiny forehead!)
6️⃣ DRESS APPROPRIATELY
(image Unsplash @ armin_lotfi)
- Dress for success (at least from the waist up!)
- Wear solids, not patterns.
7️⃣ STAY ON TASK
- Sure, Zoom recently disabled its “Attention Tracking” feature, alerting the host when you minimize Zoom or open other tabs for more than 30 seconds (how “big-brother, right?). But we can still tell when you’re checking your email or social media! Don’t multi-task.
Last week’s podcast guest Gretchen Barton and her son ZOOMing with Andrea
(Clearly I need to work on looking at the camera and keeping my hands off my face!)
3 WAYS TO STEP UP YOUR ZOOM SKILLS
1️⃣FOCUS ON BODY LANGUAGE
Everything we already know about body language IRL (in real life) also prevails on a video-conference call:
- First impressions are critical – Start with a BIG ?SMILE! We all crave positive human connection these days.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with proper posture. Sit up straight, feet planted flat on the floor.
- To demonstrate confidence, take up lots of space. Be expansive.
- To demonstrate engagement and openness, lean-in and be open. No crossed arms, no hunching over. Nodding and tilting your head when someone is speaking also signals engagement.
- Eye contact is critical. See #2️⃣below.
(image Unsplash @ dylanferreira)
Here are 4 pointers specific to using your ? HANDS to communicate effectively in Zoom calls:
- Home base for your hands when you’e on-stage delivering a presentation might be the steeple or prism position in front of you. But during a Zoom call? Try hands on the table, not crossed and not on your lap.
- Use hand gestures purposefully. Show your palms when appropriate. Make the gestures intentional and slow. No jerky movements.
- Consider the camera frame. If our camera is too close you’ll look like a talking head and we won’t be able to see your hand gestures. If it’s too far we won’t see your facial expressions. Seek a mid-point where we can see your hands and you can effectively use them to communicate within the frame.
- No fidgeting and no touching your face or your hair!
2️⃣ MAKE EYE CONTACT
I’ve been practicing this one a lot lately! It’s not easy or natural to look at the camera lens rather than at the other person, is it? Well, that’s exactly the point. We are wired to respond favorably to eye contact!
(image Unsplash @ sharegrid)
Here are 3 hacks to help you make more eye contact during a Zoom meeting:
- Don’t worry about looking at the camera 100% of the time! When others are speaking, go back and forth between the camera and looking at others.You also want to watch for non-verbal cues of others, which you might miss if you’re only looking at the camera. But always look at the camera when you’re speaking!
- Tape a note next to the camera lens (with a ⭐️STAR or “look here!”) to remind yourself to look at the camera!
- Configure your view so that the speaker’s square is as close to the camera as possible. For example, if you’re sharing screens, move the speaker window right under the camera on your screen, so when you look at the other person, you’re looking closer to the camera.
3️⃣ STRATEGIC INTERRUPTIONS
- A few months ago I highlighted how Zoom makes it impossible to interrupt. The technology only allows one voice to be heard at a time. This is great news, right? It stops all the rude interruptions! Since then, the topic of interrupting seems more prevalent.
- Recently a listener asked me to do a podcast episode on “interrupting.” What a great idea! (See below for how you too can share your ideas…)
- Last week’s podcast guest Gretchen Barton told me she’s making an effort to interrupt MORE in Zoom meetings! Given that the app makes it so difficult to interject, she’s noticed more monologues and less productive dialog. Great insight, Gretchen!
Here are 6 ways to STRATEGICALLY INTERRUPT in a Zoom call:
- Consider who you’re interrupting. You probably don’t want to interrupt your boss or your client!
- Virtually raise your hand. Click “participants” then “raise hand.” Everyone will see that you want to contribute to the conversation.
- Use body language. Go old-school and physically raise your hand for all to see!
- Create a sign. Depending on the degree of formality in your meeting, you could hold up a sign that says “great point!” or “I have a suggestion.” I’ve been in several meetings where people have blank paper and thick markers ready so they can create legible signs. (NOTE: the words might appear backward to you because the Zoom default is to mirror your image. Don’t worry – everyone else will see you and your sign normally.)
- Be respectful. You could make your point in the form of a compliment followed by a question: “That’s a great point. I have a question related to that….” You could also take the advice of IMPROV actors. Say “yes and…”)
- Decide on a system in advance. If you are leading the meeting, set up a system to ensure everyone gets heard. For example, encourage people to physically or virtually raise their hands, and ask people by name whether they have anything to add to the conversation.
Consistent with last week’s podcast episode, I NEED YOUR HELP! This Fall I’m planning another “Q&A” podcast episode.
PLEASE SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS!
I look forward to answering your communication skills questions, podcasting questions, or behind-the-scenes questions.
Please ? EMAIL me your question, or you can easily ? RECORD your question on the website – and possibly hear your voice on this upcoming Q&A episode!
I can’t wait to hear from you! Thanks as always for your questions, feedback and suggestions. I ❤️ love hearing from you!
Have a great week and stay safe.
Dr. Andrea C. Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach
Most Recent ?Podcast Episodes:
#57 – HOW TO ASK FOR HELP with Gretchen Barton
#56 – HOW TO CHOOSE A BRAND NAME with Andrea Wojnicki
#55 – ARCHETYPES & FEMALE POP STARS with Professor Kristin Lieb
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