The coronavirushas sent many of us out of the office and into our homes, and we are staying in touch with colleagues -- not to mention friends and family -- with Zoom being the most popular platform.
While many find video conferencing to be less stressful than going to physical meetings, Zoom meetings can in themselves bring new stresses that you have to navigate.
Over the past few years, which has felt like decades, I've done many hundreds of Zoom meetings for work and play (as well as using it for work, I also teach a few yoga classes using Zoom), and I've made a lot of mistakes.
Don't do what I did!
I've distilled the past few years of using Zoom almost daily into three simple dos and don't.
#1: Do check your internet connection
If you're relying on Wi-Fi, make sure that everything is good before starting the meeting. I usually disconnect and reconnect and check the signal strength prior to a meeting. Speedtest.net is a good test, and you can check your results against Zoom's system requirements (which vary depending on what you're doing).
#2: Do check your speaker and mic
Buried in Zoom's Preferences is an Audio tab where you can test the mic and speakers. I suggest checking these before every meeting.
If you are in a noisy environment, the Suppress background noise settings might be able to alleviate some problems
Pro tip: I suggest carrying out a test meeting to play with the settings to find what is optimal.
#3: Check your video
Again, Zoom's Preferences screen is the place to do this -- click on Video. Look at the lighting and composition (no one wants to spend the whole meeting looking up your nose). Check the lighting (can people see you?) and also look for anything confidential or embarrassing that might be in the shot (especially if you move about).
You can also see if Touch up my appearance or Adjust for low light settings can make a difference to the video quality.
Also, note that enabling HD can increase bandwidth requirements, as well as processor and battery demand.
If you plan to use a virtual background, check that this works properly prior to the start of the meeting (in the Zoom Preferences screen click on Virtual Background). This is also a great time to make sure that you don't have any strange filters installed (no matter how funny they are).
#1: Don't update Zoom or your OS immediately prior to a meeting
Yes, it's a good idea to keep Zoom updated, but I've had updates take a long time to download and install, I've had updates mess with settings, and I've had updates fail and leave me having to uninstall and reinstall Zoom.
The same goes for operating system updates. Just leave them until after your meetings.
#2: Don't rely on your laptop's battery
If you're Zooming from a laptop, have it connected to the charger where possible. Video conferencing is very demanding on the hardware, and the last thing you want is to be left scrabbling for power.
Another added advantage of having the laptop on power is that you can bump up the screen brightness if you find that your face is hidden in the shadows.
Pro tip: Have an app in the foreground that has a white background to boost the effect!
#3: Don't have distractions on the screen
Facebook, Twitter, email, and the like are all distractions, and people on the other end of the meeting will be able to tell if you are distracted by things.
Close anything that's not needed. Not only does that reduce the potential for distraction, but it also means that you're less likely to have something pop up and make a noise.
The quicker you get your meeting done, the quicker you can get back to other things!
Got any Zoom or video conferencing tips to share? Post them down below!