Within four weeks the business world has forever changed. Instantly, millions of people are working from home and figuring out new ways to communicate with their colleagues. Video conferencing is now a staple with companies like Zoom owning the space, to the point where their brand name has become a verb.
As tourism consultants, we have been ‘Zooming’ even more lately with clients across the country. During these meetings, I’ve been keeping a running tally of ways to make your video meetups more fun, professional and engaging. I like to call it Zoometiquette:
1. Dress Code. We’re not telling you that you need to wear nice pants, but at least put on a respectable shirt and comb your hair. Hats are permissible, as long as they aren’t of the fancy wide brim variety that shields your face from the camera.
2. Mic Up. Use a gamer style headset for the best audio quality (on both ends). Steal your kids’ and see what happens.
3. Set your Stage. Think about your background and what your camera sees (just like a newscast). Does your space have that Van Halen poster from 87 peeking out? Use this as an opportunity to make people smile with something fun like fresh flowers or a fog machine.
Rather keep your private space private? Utilize the ‘green screen’ features within your zoom meeting and place yourself on a tropical island or inside your favourite coffee shop; a place we bet you’re missing these days.
4. Mute. Use this magic function when you are not talking so everyone can’t hear your washing machine on spin cycle.
5. Echo… Echo… Echo. Understand there might be a talking delay, so pause before you speak or say “one Mississippi” in your head before conveying your thoughts.
6. Testing 1, 2, 3. Testing. Trouble shoot your connection and equipment before you join the call. Join early, and use the testing feature to make sure your audio and video is working. This way the meeting can roll as planned at the start time.
7. Children. If you have kids at home, arm them with sugary snacks and Disney+, then expense those items. If they’re too young to sit still longer than seven minutes, consider putting them on your lap and make them contribute to the meeting and earn their keep.
8. Going Dark. This is okay and you don’t need to apologize for not wanting to turn your camera on. If you just dealt with a dueling sibling meltdown because there are cheerios jammed in the PlayStation, your colleagues will understand that you might not be up to being seen at the moment.
9. Say “Cheese”. Use a good camera. If you don’t have one built into your computer, consider using conferencing apps on your cell phone, or investing in a new computer.
10. Answering the call…of nature. It’s okay to excuse yourself if you’ve gotta go. Just make sure to mute your microphone…
11. Pets. Nothing brings more joy to a Zoom meeting than a snuggly pet on your lap or desk. Pets bring comfort and ease tension for everyone, even virtually. Have your fingers ready to hit that mute button because Fido’s bark is extra loud when your microphone is live.
12. Length. Keep them short. This isn’t the same as sequestering people in your boardroom… They’re at home, in their basements, spare bedrooms or kitchen tables; and no one can sit that long on a crappy wooden kitchen chair from Aunt Martha’s estate. There’s also a solid chance they’re not alone, which makes keeping family members (kids) out of long meetings very difficult.
BC Hughes is a travel and tourism consultancy firm currently working from home offices in Ontario, Canada.