Keeping in touch with your remote team can be a struggle for businesses that aren’t used to telework, and everyone knows that keeping employees’ spirits high and teamwork running smoothly requires a lot of communication. There are a number of platforms around for having meetings, both internally and with clients, but Zoom has emerged as the early (and somewhat unexpected) winner. Getting used to a new platform is never without its hiccups, but here are a few top tips for using Zoom with your small business and some ways to use Zoom you may not have thought of!
Be prepared: make sure everyone who will be on the meeting has downloaded the Zoom desktop client at least 1 hour before the meeting. This means that if there are any problems with the download, all of that can be sorted more than 5 minutes before the meeting starts. Designate someone who is familiar with the Zoom program as the point person for any last-minute questions about the program or downloading it, so that the meeting host is not distracted. Make sure this point person also has the meeting number and passcode for the meeting in case anyone is searching for it.
Have a trial run: nothing is worse than starting a client proposal with 15 minutes of tech support problems. If you have a client meeting coming up, make sure you have an internal dry run with everyone who will be on the call to work out the kinks. While on this call, familiarize yourself with the tool bar at the bottom of the screen.
As the host: you have the ability to control the screen sharing function, so if you need this, please make sure it is turned on *before* the meeting starts (you will have to end the meeting and restart if you forget to enable this – never fun if you have more than a few meeting participants or the client on the line). You can also control the private chat option; while this can be useful, it can also be distracting from the meeting. The meeting host can also record the meeting, but please remind all participants that they are being recorded at the start of the meeting. You have the ability to mute any of the participants during the meeting (from the Manage Participants window), which can be incredibly handy.
Set some meeting rules: it’s helpful to have a set of rules before entering the meeting, such as participants muting themselves while others are presenting, participants looking at the webcam (not the screen) while speaking, and each participant introducing themselves before speaking the first time.
Virtual backgrounds: not only do virtual backgrounds hide a messy home office, they offer a chance to showcase your brand. Having a standardized company virtual background can really make you stand out, and even offer the opportunity to have a virtual business card, with name and contact info.
Screen sharing: the best screen shares are very precise and use the mouse arrow to point to the relevant area or object on the screen while describing exactly what is being referenced instead of saying “this” or “over there.” Screen shares allow you to only show one app at a time, so there’s no worry about accidentally revealing your cluttered desktop.
Participants speaking: ask participants to raise their hand in the Zoom interface if they would like to speak to minimize crosstalk, and explain that you will get to everyone who has raised their hand.
Some Interesting Ways to Use Zoom
Using Zoom to host webinars: Zoom isn’t just for simple meetings – you can provide incredible content to your customers or potential customers by holding webinars over Zoom. Then if you have recorded the webinar, it is quite easy to repurpose even after the event is over. You can send it to potential clients, put it on your website, share it on social, or publish it to YouTube. YouTube even has an editor that makes it easy to make sure you skip all the preliminaries and start right at the content.
Zoom for accountability: if there’s a particular task that has an upcoming deadline, you can use Zoom as an accountability tool. Have a meeting with your project partner, and keep the meeting open as you work on the project together. This helps keep you both on task, and offers an immediate chance to ask questions or collaborate.
Happy Hour via Zoom: Employee morale is key to successful collaboration when working remotely. Using Zoom to host a virtual Happy Hour or Game Night can be a great way for your employees to relax and just enjoy each other’s company. It’s one of the things people are missing most about being out of the office – the little interactions that bring laughter and spark joy during the work day. You can recreate this!
Zoom is an incredible tool for communication, collaboration, and for getting your business seen and heard right now. If you follow these simple tips, you can be a Zoom master right away, and both impress your clients and create a community with your employees. Happy Zooming!