In this age of Covid, I have participated or otherwise engaged in a number of Zoom meetings and webinars. Many people who might not have attempted using the format have jumped in to learn it to the best of their ability, and I applaud those efforts. So many of us can participate in classes and meetings and workshops that we would not have otherwise been able to do so if they had only been offered in person.
However, I have come across a few instances when the host could have used a little more finessing to ensure a more polished and professional meeting. Here are a few of the simple tips you can utilize for a better Zoom experience.
- Have a good camera angle. Test out what you’re going to look like on camera before the meeting if you aren’t sure. No one really likes to look up at your neck and chin. (It’s not an attractive angle for starters, plus it makes you look distracted.) Prop your device on a stack of books or a box if you need to. Your viewers want to see you head-on. Does the lighting make you look washed out, or in the shadows? Adjust a lamp, open or close window blinds. Do yourself a favor and do a dry run so you have an idea of what you’ll look like on camera.
- Mute everyone. This is a setting you can toggle on while creating the meeting, and it can even be changed up until you start the meeting. Most participants are not going to be aware that their mic is on, and could accidentally say something embarrassing or in the very least it could lead to a bunch of background noise that is unprofessional. Do everyone a favor and keep the talking and background noise to a minimum.
- Keep questions in the chat. Participants will have varying levels of internet access, they could talk over each other, things can get disorganized and even chaotic. Just ask your participants to put questions in the chat, and assign a helper to monitor the chat. It should NOT be the person running the webinar. Let them focus on their presentation. Depending on the kind of information being presented, maybe the helper could bring up questions throughout the presentation or keep it to the end after the main part of the webinar has been presented. This might be beneficial for some viewers who have limited time and want to hear the bulk of the information they came for. Questions that may or may not be relevant should be kept to the end.
Depending on the size and scope of your meeting, this may not be necessary. But in the case of a large class, a workshop, or a training that may involve large numbers of people who don’t know each other, this is a good place to start to keep things civil and manageable.
- Create and show slides. Build a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation to keep your audience engaged with your talking points and questions. Do not worry about making them fancy or conveying lots of information- that’s what a handout can do. But it will keep your audience interested and it will keep the presenter on track. Presentations that go off their outline or go on tangents are not helpful and might mean you lose viewers in the future.
- Set ground rules. Put them in the confirmation email when people sign up, and/or put it on the first slide you share as people are joining the meeting. Let your participants know they should remain muted and share questions in the chat. Let them know if you’ll send out slides, handouts, or links in a separate email. Let them know if you are recording the Zoom and if they will have access to the recording if so. Your helper can even be made a co-host and kick people out if they cause problems. You don’t have time for that.
- Limit the people running the show. You only really need the host to start things and make sure things stay on track, the presenter who should be speaking the most, and the assistant/helper who monitors the chat for relevant questions. If you have too many people trying to help no one is very helpful and it can be confusing for your participants.
There you have it! A few suggestions for having a polished and professional Zoom meeting.