Much like a sizable portion of the world's population, at the onset of COVID-19 lockdowns, the conference room at work is commonly replaced by the bedroom, lounge, or kitchen.
Because it's hard to not be able to interact in-person with your coworkers when conducting time-sensitive business, companies have been forced to adapt the face-to-face communications and collaborative team meetings essential for keeping day-to-day operations running smoothly. Enter Zoom.
Proper Zoom etiquette
Zoom is a cloud-based, peer-to-peer software platform often used for telecommuting.
While it is certainly not the only audio/video teleconferencing option out there, it is definitely one of the most popular thanks to its relative ease of use and generous free account offerings.
Even if you haven't personally participated in a Zoom meeting in the age of COVID-19, you're probably familiar with the technology—not to mention the bevy of embarrassing moments that have been captured in these conference calls and immortalized online.
That being said, if you have a Zoom meeting on the calendar, or think you might in the future, you'd be wise to avoid making a fool of yourself and maintain a professional persona while video conferencing.
Utilizing proper etiquette in these meetings will not only keep you on the boss's good side, but it will help ensure you don't become the subject of your own humiliating viral video—after all, SARS-CoV-2 is the only viral thing you should have to worry about right now.
So, without further ado, listed below are some of the finer points of proper Zoom etiquette.
Make your appearance professional
First things first, making yourself presentable for your videoconference is essential.
You'd be surprised how many people show up to Zoom meetings in their pajamas or other attire that is completely inappropriate—from torn-up T-shirts and sweatpants to bathing suits while basking in the sun poolside, what people believe is acceptable for an online meeting can feel astonishing.
The dress code might not be as strict as in the office, but you should still present a professional appearance.
This is not limited to your clothing—you need to pay attention to your personal hygiene and grooming as well.
Mute your mic when you are not speaking
One of the most important things you can do to maintain proper etiquette in Zoom meetings is to make sure you mute your mic when you are not speaking.
Seemingly small sounds and general background noises in your home bleeding into your business meeting may not seem like a big deal, but they can be a real distraction that is disruptive and disrespectful to whoever is speaking.
Furthermore, muting yourself can potentially save you from some serious embarrassment—you can avoid being shamed by simply clicking mute.
Look at the camera
It's tempting to want to look at yourself or your coworkers while in a Zoom video conference, but in order to mimic the eye contact of a face-to-face meeting, looking directly at the camera will yield the best results.
This will not only show you are engaged in the conversation but will also serve to keep the attention of your audience when you are speaking.
Stay focused and aware of your surroundings
The importance of staying focused and aware of your surroundings during a Zoom meeting cannot be overstated.
As soon as you let your guard down, you open yourself up to potential embarrassment.
From absent-mindedly picking your nose to your spouse passing by in the background completely nude, failure to remain focused can lead to some cringe-worthy situations.
Tackle any technical issues in advance
To ensure your meeting runs smoothly and the rest of your coworkers won't have to stop everything while you figure out how to get your sound to work or struggle to turn off the special filter that has turned your face into a talking potato, you should tackle any technical issues you might have in advance.
This includes ensuring your internet connection is sufficiently fast and working properly, making any necessary adjustments to your audio and video settings, and even making sure the room you're in is properly lit so you aren't just a shadowy silhouette on the screen.
Finally, proper Zoom etiquette really just boils down to avoiding anything that could be distracting or disruptive.
With just a small amount of advance preparation, you should be able to both maintain your professional appearance and avoid any embarrassing moments.