How to make Zoom meetings less awkward

Heading close into our second socially distanced year, Zoom continues to be a primary source of communication for many workplaces across North America. And, despite going into year two of this pandemic, we still haven’t mastered the art of video chatting without a tad of awkwardness looming over. Here are five ways to help you make Zoom meetings feel more natural and less cringy.

  1. Don’t be shy

This may come across as obvious but, the fact of the matter is, in order to stand out in a Zoom meeting and make a “splash,” you need to turn that camera on. But that’s not all you have to consider.

Meetings are, for the most part, really boring. They usually touch on subjects you rarely care about and all you’re thinking about is getting back to your desk to browse Facebook. The only problem, you’re not in the office anymore. When you have that camera on, people see only your face and how it’s reacting to the situation.

If they see you constantly looking off to the side, playing on your phone or just looking completely disinterested in what’s going on, it makes things more awkward. It’s the equivalent of talking to someone in person and they don’t make eye contact. Don’t be that person.

  1. Invest in proper equipment

Nothing’s worse than being that person in the meeting. You know, the one you can’t quite understand or hear but you have to politely either let them keep talking, hoping you absorb at least 60% of what they’re saying or tediously help them troubleshoot their situation. Yeah, being that person is super awkward.

Now that you are required to work from home and need some kind of communication that doesn’t involve tediously writing out novel-long emails, you need the proper equipment. No, obviously don’t bankrupt yourself, but get yourself a quality microphone that’ll pick-up clearer audio.

Even if you have this equipment built into your computer, they tend to either be of low quality or fade quickly. Really consider going on the market for better equipment.

  1. Schedule a bathroom break

Have you ever been in this situation; waiting for a meeting to start, you see that the host has opened the Zoom client, waiting for them to let you in… and suddenly your bladder feels fuller than the Olsen twins occupying a house with Bob Saget? That’s the meeting anxiety sneaking up on you.

If you have a meeting at 1pm, try scheduling a bathroom break at 12:50pm. That meeting might go on for an hour or two and you don’t want to be sitting there, legs crossed and suffering. Scheduling a bathroom break beforehand will also cut out the awkwardness of announcing to everyone that you have to relieve yourself.

  1. Make sure you’re muted

We’ve all seen the compilation videos, people forgetting to turn their mics off, and hilarity ensues… until it happens to you. Let’s be honest, you act way differently at home than how you do at the office. You probably watch TV while working, maybe you beatbox while on hold on the phone or maybe you talk to yourself more than you like to admit.

Regardless of what it is, there is no shame in any of it; just make sure your mic is muted before you embarrass yourself. You should be getting used to turning that mic button on and off anyway because you never know what could happen. Maybe your dog starts barking or your roommates start fighting in the other room. Whatever it is, just practice hitting that mute button whenever it’s your turn to shut up and listen.

  1. Don’t be afraid of personal time

From the looks of it, we’re going to be doing the whole work from home and Zoom meeting tango for a while. How long is not really certain at this point but you should try to make the most of it. Don’t be afraid to set aside some personal time with the people you’re sharing the meeting with.

Research shows that teams that sometimes share personal information perform better than teams that don’t. No, you don’t have to bare all your feelings but you can share how you’re handling work, how quarantine is going or even what you did over the weekend

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