Built resilience to Zoom fatigue yet? Like me, you may have discovered that either a little zooming goes a long way, or that setting clear boundaries on how much zoom time you spend each day is key to a happy long life. Regardless of how you are managing, our video conference way of life is here to stay, even if we return to offices at some point.
No doubt, over time our wonderful tech gods will have improved our videoconferencing capabilities and made it more flexible, adaptable and to some extent more pleasant. In the meantime I’ve compiled some video conference etiquette guidelines – I call them Zetiquette guidelines – to help you have a more pleasant and less frustrating experience.
Please send us your Zetiquette tips and tricks and we will keep updating this blog.
Keep meetings short
In the Before Time* I often would hold meetings where everyone was required to stand rather than sitting. We got our issues discussed in no time at all. You don’t have that flexibility now, but you can make a hard stop end time. I advise clients to select half the time they usually would set aside for a meeting. If that’s too challenging cut times to 2/3 of what you would normally do. (And you can certainly urge people to stand. It’s good for our health.)
Do your best to create privacy
While you’ve no doubt seen quite adorable videos of experts on prestigious news or talk shows suddenly being interrupted by a kid or two (and certainly these experiences have helped us all develop a certain kind of intimacy with our colleagues that was way less possible in the workplace), it does distract everyone and makes your meetings less efficient. Unless you are in a specially designed recording studio at home, other outside sounds will just have to be tolerated. Why is it when I am on a Zoom call my neighbor’s gardeners decide to arrive, lawnmowers at the ready?!
Be on time to meetings
Yes, I know, back in the Before Time at the office most people showed up 5 minutes late. Now tough meeting leaders can actually lock you out of video calls if you are not on time, so there is that. Otherwise, it’s just respectful to your colleagues to be there at the start.
Neither a lurker nor a distractor be
Turn your video on and don’t forget to unmute yourself when you speak, but do keep yourself on mute otherwise. Defaults are usually to start meetings with everyone’s video and audio muted. When unmuted avoid making loud distracting noises – no potato chips!
Upskill how you observe others
Get adept at monitoring other participants’ body language so you can divine when to speak. Unfortunately what is lost from in-person interactions is the speed of ideation (riffing off of other’s ideas) and the agility of communication as microcues and pheromone transmissions are blocked. Talk to online gamers you know; they have it down.
Keep physical distractions to a minimum
Cease unnecessary large movements. For example getting up and down off of your seat or if you have a standing desk, pacing or rocking back and forth. Also get your screen or remote camera to be at eye level. If it’s too high, your bald spot shows. If it’s too low, your double chins wobble.
The make-up department isn’t just for theatrical types
Had a rough night with the kids or were you up all night participating in “Couchella” with your friends? Use Touch up my Appearance for those calls where you don’t look your best. Open Zoom app > settings > Meeting > Touch up my appearance. Pick a virtual background for those days the home area is a mess or you want to express your personality. (And, guys, seriously, the internet has lots of tips for you on using just a touch of make-up for video. Okay, I haven’t tried, but I’ve been told I should.)
Finally, for fun and an opportunity to have colleagues join you “after hours” and also to help you network, try the Houseparty app. Houseparty is a social networking app that allows up to eight people to video chat at once in a “room.” Users can have infinite rooms and easily float between rooms.
* Before Time: A phrase from Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, used by the children born after societal collapse in referring to the time before.
Send Zetiqutte tips and ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org