I, Mark Roemer, am sure I am not alone knowing what works and what doesn’t work now that I have been working at home for the better part of a year. However, there are a few simple rules of Zoom etiquette that everybody should know.
Here are some Zoom etiquette tips to prevent you from being “that person” on your calls, whether you’re hosting or attending one.
On your end, be aware of the background noise. For those on a Zoom call with you, things you’ve grown used to and don’t know are noisy and distracting can bother others.
Consider the noise made by operating appliances such as the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer, as well as fans and HVAC units. Consider turning them off or moving far away from them while you’re on the call.
Close the door when on a call is one of the clearest and often ignored pieces of advice. A closed door is a respectful gesture not to disturb you and keeps sounds from outside the room from being heard if you’re working in an area where other people live or work.
What’s going on behind your back while you’re on the phone? Is it possible for someone to see cars driving by your front window or the dirty dishes in your kitchen sink? On Zoom calls, your visible background will reveal a lot about you and leave an impression. Where necessary, keep your backdrop neutral and tidy, so you don’t show off your messes.
While Zoom has virtual background choices, you shouldn’t depend on them all the time unless you’re in a pinch. Virtual backgrounds may be amusing and quirky at times, but they can generate mistrust or appear inappropriate if used excessively. It’s fine to use them in an emergency when you’ve got a couch full of laundry behind you, but if it’s not necessary, it’s better to keep your work atmosphere at home and let everyone see you.
As a word of caution, showing people where you work in your home is acceptable, but proceed with caution! Yes, your bed is cozy, but do you want strangers to see your room? Instead, place yourself so that only a wall is visible and set up your camera in such a way that it doesn’t appear like you’re lounging in your bedroom.
Lighting is tricky, mainly when working in a small room. A harsh or uncomfortable shadow on your face may be created by an overhead sun. Natural light is always the best for webcams, but if you don’t have enough natural light to illuminate your face correctly, you might want to try using a ring light.
In general, having a dedicated office space in your home is beneficial, but it’s helpful in taking calls. It will assist you in reducing distractions and avoiding future blunders.
You’ll know what areas of your house appear in the background if you always take calls from the exact location, how to reduce noise and change lighting, and how to keep messes and distracting things out of the way if you always take calls from the same spot. Alternatively, if you have a dog or cat, keep a bed near your Zoom position so they know there’s a spot for them and don’t run into your lap in the middle of a call.
It’s tempting to change into comfortable work clothes when you’re at home, and your wardrobe is just a few steps away. When you’re on tape, it’s better to dress a little more professionally. This doesn’t say you have to dress up in a suit and tie or a dress, but you should dress up a little more than your sweatpants and a hoodie. Set timers for a few minutes before each call, so you know when to switch.
And just because people only see the top half of your body doesn’t mean you can miss the pants — we all know that some Zoomers play a dangerous game with pants. If you have to get up or change during your meeting for some reason, you don’t want anyone to see your private parts in a professional setting.
Zoom’s chat feature helps send comments and share links when other people are speaking. These comments may be relevant, or they may be a connection to a document you need to see. Throughout your meeting, check the chat so you don’t get lost and others don’t think you weren’t paying attention.
When you’re not speaking, silence yourself, even though there’s no background noise where you’re working. Unexpected events occur, such as a doorbell ringing or a noise you aren’t aware of.
Although it’s fun to show your face to everyone, there are occasions when turning off your camera is fitting. Switch off your video if you’re getting up from your desk to get something from another room. Seeing someone get up and leave for a minute might cause others to ask what’s up, and it can divert attention away from the actual meeting.
Alternatively, if you’re going from one room to another during the call, you can also turn off your camera. When you’re walking around your house, your coworkers don’t need to feel like they’re on a roller coaster or flying through hyperspace.
Finally, if you’re eating, even if it’s just a fast snack, turn off the camera. If you’re eating when on a call, it’s lousy Zoom etiquette and, honestly, gross to others.
Whether it was due to alerts or inadequate preparation while sharing their phone, we’ve all seen someone unwittingly reveal a sensitive or personal message in a Zoom meeting.
If you’re sharing your computer with others during a call, make sure it’s free of messaging apps and other distracting windows. It’s also a good idea to turn off notifications during screen sharing. If you have trouble remembering to turn off your alerts, consider downloading Muzzle, which will mute them for you when you share a computer.
Face the Camera
Many of us have several monitors and are on a zoom call when looking at various documents on different screens. Even if what you’re watching on another screen is vital to the meeting, it’s preferable to look into the camera so that everybody knows you’re paying attention and not disturbed.
I, Mark Roemer, hope this helps you conduct yourself professionally on your next Zoom call. If you can think of anything that I have forgotten, please do not hesitate to reach out to me!