If there’s one word that would encapsulate what happened with work and education in 2020, it would be “Zoom.” As Philadelphia’s premier image consultants, we’re curious – what makes for good Zoom etiquette?
Basic Zoom Etiquette
2020 ended on January 1st, but a month into 2021, we’re still living with a lot of 2020’s tropes. Whether you love Zoom or you’re getting sick of it, it’s become a mainstay of our pandemic communication, and we don’t see it going anywhere. We might as well lean into it and adapt.
Thankfully, Zoom (or Google Hangouts, FaceTime, or MS Teams) etiquette isn’t that different from normal etiquette – it’s just modified for the digital age. With that in mind, some of what follows may be familiar.
What To Do
Notice the background. Many people nowadays use a customized “green screen”-style background for their Zoom calls. Just as many people set up computers in their home offices in such a way as to display books, diplomas, pennants, and many other things of personal and professional significance.
Chances are that if you can see something in someone’s background, it’s valuable to them, so be sure to ask. That trophy on your prospect’s bookshelf might take her down memory lane, setting a positive mood for the call and helping you close the deal.
On the flip side of this, be open to folks asking you about things in your Zoom background.
Let the other person finish speaking. One of the biggest flow-killers for a call is when people talk over each other, causing other lines to mute and unmute automatically as Zoom tries to give credence to whoever’s talking.
If someone else is speaking, don’t interject until they’re done. On a large group calls, keep yourself muted so you don’t distract others. If you have something crucial to add, throw it into the chat.
Be flexible. Sometimes our Internet connections act wonky for no particular reason. Some of us still have pets or small children around the house who can cause (hopefully) amusing distractions.
If these distractions are a constant with someone, that’s one thing. But if whoever you’re talking to is having some challenges in these areas when they typically don’t, a little grace goes a long way. If you happen to handle these distractions as expertly as this meteorologist did, pat yourself on the back.
What To Not Do
Leave video off. Preference on this varies from individual to individual, but generally speaking, keep your video on during a call. It’s weird, bordering on off-putting, to have a video call with a black screen that occasionally speaks. You don’t want the person on the other end of the call to think that you’re not taking the call seriously.
Dress like it’s 8am on a Sunday. If you’re having a virtual breakfast with some friends, that’s one thing. But even if you’re working from the comfort of your own home, a “just rolled out of bed” look is no good. Nothing says “I don’t care about this call” like not dressing appropriately for it.
We recognize that the world is very casual at the moment and that we all have more leeway with our clothing decisions in that regard. This is simply another iteration of the importance of our favorite adage – casual does not mean sloppy.
We can’t wait to get back into more face-to-face meetings, but until then, Zoom and other video chat services will be the norm. It’s important to know the etiquette.