By Peggy S. Bud, Speaking Skillfully
Can you remember before COVID 19 when we attended face to face meetings or professional events? Yes, there was a time when you could actually meet with a potential employer, shake hands and have a conversation. You could join a friend for lunch, coffee or a drink; have a conversation without wearing a mask or worrying about getting sick.
The logistics of getting to a meeting was something we all considered. You probably used technology to determine how long it would take to get there. Using your GPS for both directions and estimated travel time, you were able to be punctual. If you were like me, you allotted extra time for unforeseen traffic issues, finding a parking spot, or getting lost. I would try to get to the meeting a little early because it meant more time for networking. When attending a business meeting or interview, arriving early meant I could freshen up and collect my thoughts before the meeting.
I’m baffled how many people arrive for a ZOOM meeting at the precise time it was scheduled and often up to 10 minutes late. They don’t seem to be aware of proper ZOOM etiquette. If they are going to be late or need to leave early, they should notify the host ahead of time. Otherwise, they should arrive to a meeting a few minutes ahead of schedule.
Technology can and will fail. Never assume it’s going to work like it did yesterday or earlier in the day. The lighting isn’t right; different time of day. The colors I’m wearing wash me out. My volume is too loud or too soft. Preparing is part of good ZOOM etiquette. Check for technical issues before every meeting; software updates, microphone problems, camera issues. Participating in a ZOOM call takes planning. Arriving early is best practice. It gives you the opportunity to do a final check on ‘how you look on video’ before clicking “Join a meeting.”
ZOOM calls can be tiring, allowing for breaks between calls is essential and is part of the preparation. I suggest about a 20-minute break between calls. Use the time to walk around, freshen up, drink some water. Hydration helps your appearance. Log on about 10 minutes before the call. Check out how you look and sound before joining the meeting. I realize you might have to spend a few minutes in the waiting room. Sometimes the host will admit you when you arrive early, giving you a chance to chat with the host or other early arriving participants. Isn’t this what you did when attending a face to face meeting in the past?
Being aware of good ZOOM etiquette is important. It’s new to our lives. It takes practice. You only get one chance to make a great first impression, which begins with how you look and sound. Confidence and success are the result of planning, preparing and practice. What others see as you enter the meeting is your professional virtual image. Make sure it is a winning image!