COVID-19 has the world on lockdown, and we’re all suffering in one way or another from the lack of social interaction. Luckily for us, today’s world offers plenty of digital tools to keep us in touch, including the popular video conferencing service Zoom. Whether you’re using Zoom for business calls or to keep in contact with friends and family, here are some ways to make your calls better during COVID-19.
Have An Agenda
Obviously, if you’re just catching up with grandma or your sister, you probably don’t need to have an agenda ready. This tip is geared towards professionals and managers who have to juggle the work-at-home scenario while hosting conference calls.
We all know how kiddos, pets, background noise, and more can interrupt/disrupt/derail a conference call. It’s hard enough to work from home, but finding a nice quiet spot for a conference call is nearly impossible if you have children. The shortcut? Have an agenda, and keep it short and sweet.
Agendas can help streamline meetings and ensure that everyone’s on the same page. They’ll also help you refine the guest list, because let’s be honest; we’ve all attended a meeting where someone who shouldn’t have been there caused interruptions.
Agendas are simple but effective. You can use a sticky note, type it up, or download an agenda template online. Just be sure that you share the agenda with everyone who will be attending before the call happens!
Get A Better Connection
“Jim, you’re cutting out Jim…are you there?” Pixelated screen. Audio cutting in and out. Sound familiar? A choppy connection can make your simple conference call into a nightmare. You’re struggling to reset your router, adjust your webcam, and anything else you can think of to get a clear picture, but the bottom line is that your internet connection just isn’t’ good enough.
The solution? Get a better connection! There are plenty of options available for internet service, so you don’t have to settle for a connection that leaves you raging at the screen. Fix your garbled audio and pixelated video with a simple connection change. Finding the best internet service provider in your area is a simple process with internet adviser tools. Getting a better connection can improve any internet-based task. Your games will run smoother, web pages will load faster, and your Zoom calls won’t suffer from VHS-level quality any longer. Upgrade that connection!
Encourage The Use Of The Mute Button
The mute button seems to be an elusive tool for Zoom callers, but it’s probably the most important tool at your disposal when you’re in a conference call. Yes, your dog is adorable and your kiddos are amazing, but when you’re trying to host a meeting, the background noise can be distracting and derail the entire meeting.
If you’re the host, it can be helpful to let everyone know (in a friendly way, of course) at the beginning of the meeting that they should use the mute button if they’ve got a noisy environment. You can also use that mute button to set the example!
Since we’re all socially isolated, everyone should have plenty of free time for meetings, right? Not necessarily. Think of the single mom juggling two kiddos and trying to work from home, keep house, and care for the kiddos. Or the bachelor who’s taking care of his parents, who are too old to manage the house by themselves.
The bottom line is that everyone still has a schedule, and if you’re hosting the meeting, you’ll need to be mindful of this.
Reach out to your participants prior to the meeting and see when they’ll be available. Working around their schedules can also help reduce background noise and interruptions. The best time of day for a call might differ for everyone, but your participants will greatly appreciate you being mindful of their individual schedules.
This is why it’s important to have an agenda as well; so everyone knows when, where, and how long the meeting will be. Don’t neglect your meeting agenda!
So you’ve taken all the precautions possible, locked yourself in your office, you’ve got the mute button at the ready…and your daughter still manages to get in the office to show you her new stuffie. What do you do? Expect interruptions. Be patient. Whether you’re a single parent, a bachelor, or a married pet parent, interruptions happen. It’s ok!
The best thing you can do is excuse yourself or hold the meeting until your participants have handled their interruptions. Working from home is difficult, and there will likely be obstacles. Getting upset, angry, or asking someone to leave the call because of one interruption is simply counterproductive.
Showing patience and understanding goes a long way, and we’re all stressed out during this COVID-19 situation.
The Bottom Line
Zoom is an awesome video calling service, but it takes certain precautions and awareness to make the call go smoothly while working at home. These tips can help you streamline your calls, minimize your interruptions, and keep everyone on the same page.