Video Conferencing tools like Zoom are here to stay, even as people slowly return to the office.
Do you feel disconnected from your teammates, even as you stare at them on a computer or mobile screen?
I'm a face-to-face type person, so I completely feel your pain.
That said, I've found a few ways that can help stay connected to those you work with and even friends, as we negotiate this new way of work.
Zoom in - Literally, make that video screen as big as possible. You'll be surprised how much difference it makes psychologically to be able to properly see the person(s) you're talking with and the document(s) they might be sharing with you. No strain on the eyes and no need to crane your neck either.
Noise out - Shut out all extra windows and tabs. Distractions due to on-screen notifications are killing us all. So mute your tabs with sounds or pop ups, IM apps like Yammer and Slack which keep going off. Bottom line, if you wouldn't check your phone during a "real meeting", you shouldn't focus on other things while a Zoom meeting is on.
Headsets are best - I tried managing with speakerphone for a while but realized that my clients and colleagues were straining to catch some words here and there. Headsets really amplified the subtle sounds that indicate tone, mood and emotion, and helped me catch on to problems I would otherwise have missed.
Caffeine is King - I won't even lie about it, a hot beverage can get me through the longest call with the dreariest content. Alternate with a cup of hot water to hydrate while still keeping your nasal and sinus passages clear and fresh.
Don't look at the clock - If you have 3-5 or even more calls scheduled in a day, it can be tempting to keep checking the time if it starts to drag. Instead, set a timer for 5-10 minutes before end time just so you don't run late, but be *present* otherwise. You can take a sneak peek at the clock only if your counterpart is looking away, but otherwise, EYE CONTACT !
You start first - It helps me majorly that I'm the first one in the 'room' and starting the call (I mute volume and maybe even video till they join). It shows promptness and interest in the meeting, sets a great tone. Join 5 minutes early if you can
Calendaring - If this is a regular meeting, be sure to set it up in zoom and on your preferred calendar tool, shared with attendees. Keeps us all on track, and a friendly reminder 2-3 days beforehand is always helpful.
Start and end with encouraging note - Remember that everyone that you're talking to is probably going through a rough patch, just like you. If you can check in with them and make sure they're heard and appreciated, adding in a compliment that they're doing a good job, you will keep them ready for the rest of their week. In short, add to their energy, it will keep them engaged and they will look forward to their meetings with you.
A few simple things, basic courtesy, sincerity as well as consideration, and your meetings will Zoom by.