Blogs & CommentDigitalEditors' PicksFeaturedOpinionPRVideo & Audio

How to idiot-proof your next Zoom call – by Zaib Shadani

By Zaib Shadani, Managing Director, Shadani Consulting

Zaib Shadani, Managing Director, Shadani Consulting


With traditional business meetings going out the window and Zoom video conferencing becoming the new norm, welcome to the world of ‘WFH’ and remote work meetings. Here are the do’s and don’ts of Zoom to ensure you’re productive, polite and you don’t end up being ‘that guy’* who is caught on screen with no pants on.


Look at the camera

Ensure that you always look at the camera – this is the equivalent of making eye contact and gives the impression that you are talking to each of the other participants. Try not to stare at yourself in the screen, as it will seem like your attention is elsewhere. A good tip is to position your web camera at eye level, so as to ensure eye level contact with others.


Lighting is everything

Who needs filters when strong lighting will do the same job? Ensure you have good lighting and are not sitting in a dimly lit area. Point a light at your face, so that you’re illuminated and basked in a soft glow. A standing lamp is perfect as a quick fix or natural sunlight streaming from a large window.


Pants are not optional

It’s important to dress professionally for Zoom calls, no matter how tempting the lure of boxer shorts or sweatpants, when working from home. It will help promote a sense of normalcy, as well as ensure that you’re not caught in an embarrassing situation if you have to get up and forget that you aren’t fully dressed.


Don’t do anything private or intimate until you confirm you’ve logged off

We’ve all seen the videos and memes of people thinking they’ve logged off Zoom and then getting caught doing something private or intimate. Seeing guys in their boxer shorts or people going to the bathroom are probably the most common ones, proving how easy it is to forget to turn off your video or mute your mike. Always make sure to double check that you have in fact, logged off or muted the desired functions.


Use the video function to make a ‘human connection’

People need to feel connected and put a ‘face to the name’ so make sure to enable your camera whenever possible. With social distancing in effect, people are craving human connections and want to be able to ‘see’ who they are speaking to.


Avoid eating during the Zoom call

No one wants to see you eat your jelly doughnut while you slurp your tea during a Zoom call. Keep it professional and avoid eating during the Zoom session. Most people want to discuss the topic at hand and get off the call, so eating can also be interpreted as someone being non-serious or dragging the meeting on. Drinking is a little more acceptable, but even then, it should not be so excessive or loud as to distract from the meeting.


The host should be the last to leave

As the host of the meeting, it’s your responsibility to ensure that everyone has had their say and leaves at their own pace, after saying any final words and disconnecting. So, the host should stick around and only leave after everyone has gone.


Don’t interrupt – Use the chat function to ask questions

People usually have questions during a meeting and it can be disruptive to have them interrupt with their questions. An effective and non-intrusive way to answer questions is to use Zoom’s chat function, where colleagues can submit questions during the meeting. This will enable the  host to answer the questions when appropriate, since the questions remain visible in the chat message sidebar.


Stay on ‘mute’ if you’re not talking.

A general rule is to remain on silent if you’re not speaking. A medley of background noise can be disruptive and distracting, especially if it includes kids crying, dogs barking, the doorbell ringing, etc.


Stay focused and avoid distractions

People come under heightened scrutiny and are the center of attention during Zoom calls, so it’s important not to fidget, look elsewhere etc., as that can be misconstrued as disinterested or distracted behavior. Don’t give in to the urge to multi-task while on a call and instead focus wholeheartedly on the meeting.


Be selective – don’t invite everyone

Most people prefer emails over meetings, so try to only include people who have something constructive to contribute. The more attendees you have, the harder it is to manage the meeting. Plus, remember that these meetings can be recorded, so they can also be shared with additional colleagues if necessary.




*Editor’s note: here’s ‘that guy’. Don’t be him.