Member Interest Articles

Improving Zoom

Zoom Out
Part of the psychological intensity of Zoom calls is caused by the close-up webcams we use by default: the impression of someone’s face 2.5 feet away intrudes upon our personal space. Instead, try backing up to a medium shot in which your hands and arms are visible; show your body language, and others won’t have to strain for non-verbal cues.  Quartz

Take the Right Breaks
Cal Newport recommends that while working from home you take scheduled breaks, outside your work context, and ensure you don’t encounter tasks or obligations you can’t resolve during the break (which create “mental drag”). Email is not a break. A 20-30-minute walk outdoors might be ideal. “When work happens in the same place as life, it’s hard to know when the workday begins and ends.”  Fast Company

Convey “E-Charisma”
The flair and charm that let you command a room in person don’t translate directly to a Zoom call: online, people focus more on what you say than how you dress or move. But experts recommend you ensure your face is well-positioned in frame, well-lit, and that you exhibit plenty of “nonverbal energy like nodding to show that you’re engaged.” Executive coach Ora Shtull recommends “a simple, warm smile (without teeth showing)” while others are talking, “a broader smile when someone on the call makes a joke,” and otherwise, “try to look thoughtful in the most natural way you can.” (But you also don’t want to spend time self-consciously watching your own image onscreen!) Invest in a high-quality microphone so your voice isn’t lost, slow down your speech and articulate carefully, and vary your pitch for emphasis. Consciously acknowledge what others have said and ask questions to make “space” for others and ensure give and take in the conversation.  Wall Street Journal

Engage the Room
Virtual presenting, especially in a webinar, is like “speaking into a black hole” when audience body language, facial expressions or laughter are invisible and inaudible. Sometimes, “because we feel as if no one is listening, we speak as if no one is listening.” The solution is to create call and response exchanges using the text chat, polls, Q&A breaks or even simply by asking rhetorical questions.  Harvard Business Review

Fight Groupthink
With the shift to WFH, business leaders expected the break in routine, informality and new technologies would alleviate the “groupthink” that tended to prefer conformity and complacency over innovation. Unfortunately, the reverse occurred. Virtual meetings frequently allow one or two voices to dominate, while everyone else just wants to “get it over with.” Zoom fatigue leads to “psychological unease that makes speaking up feel burdensome and daunting,” and without body language we can mistakenly assume agreement where there is none. To counter the weaknesses of the medium, ensure people attend Zoom meetings with some key points they want to share, try rotating hosts, encourage follow-up by email, call on quieter participants first, and try using polling or whiteboards to keep everyone engaged.  Fast Company

Reference Site: Counteracting Zoom Fatigue (mailchi.mp)