Don’t Make These 5 Zoom Video Mistakes

You live your life on video calls now. Here’s how to do it better.

One day the world was normal: I could count on having several caffeine-fueled meetings every day. The joy of this was being able to collaborate and discuss things with the folks we work with in person – like, face-to-face – which feels like a long time ago now.

Then, everything shifted. We grabbed our computers, swiftly left our office behind, and suddenly every one of my meetings felt like I had to become a YouTuber. The angles! The lighting! Does my voice really sound like that?

As this looks to be a big part of our lives for the foreseeable future, MediaStyle wanted to provide a few lessons from what we’ve seen in our first 342,383 webinars, Zoom conferences, and Facebook live-streams from our first little while of working from home. After all, no one wants to be the video chat equivalent of busting into a conference room looking dishevelled, while yelling and whispering somehow simultaneously.

1. Visuals Matter

What you and your background look like matters when you are in a meeting, so clean off your video camera, put your laptop on something higher than you to avoid an up the nose shot, add some lighting and check behind you before you hit “Join with Video.”

We had one meeting attendee realize that they had gunk (I think that’s the technical term) on their webcam so every meeting looked like they were in a soap opera flashback. The New York Times has published a great how-to when it comes to video meetings.

2. Mute Yourself

Given how many of us are working at home with others (dogs, cats, kids, loud significant others) it’s likely best if you aren’t talking just to mute so you don’t accidentally have something you’d rather not share broadly go out live over the internet.

3. Eating is Awkward

To try and stay on a similar schedule like the one we had in person, we had a team lunch on Friday. I immediately wished I hadn’t ordered messy tacos. Perhaps the takeaway is to make sure you order something easy to eat on team lunch Friday or maybe just eat before or after a call. Unless you’re trying to go for an ASMR vibe, that is.

4. Test Before You Broadcast

If you’re doing something on a larger scale, keep in mind that there are so many things that can go wrong with a live broadcast. Make sure you test audio, video, and if you’re sharing your screen, make sure you have your links or documents ready. MediaStyle’s been doing a Facebook Live broadcast every second week called OK, Zoomer, which has required us to do a lot of tech problem-solving (during which time a colleague’s Macbook Air got rather overwhelmed).

If things aren’t working, always double-check your input device settings on both Zoom and in your computer’s hardware preferences.

5. Proceed With Caution on Zoom

There’s a lot of terrible stories of what can happen when hosting Zoom calls, so we highly recommend ensuring that you set up your calls to ensure that participants are muted and cannot share their screens. Google has banned its employees from using it and the Zoom CEO has pledged to fix these issues, but there are some alternative video conferencing services out there that some folks are trying out.

Bonus: download these filters and use them often to add zest to your calls, but again see rule #4 and test before launching into it (but be sure you don’t know how to undo it in a professional meeting and then have to spend the rest of your time as a potato, like this woman).

Caitlin Kealey is MediaStyle’s CEO.

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