Coping with Zoom

Welcome to the electronic age. Wait, we’ve been here a while. So by now we should all be pretty comfortable with video calls, right?

But we’re not. We’re learning. And if you’re new to working at home, you might well be new to Zoom as a business tool.

from the Zoom website

Zoom conferences aren’t the same as FaceTime-ing with grandma. They may be casual. They may even be fun. But they require more conscientiousness than sticking your iPad in your lap and pointing the camera up your nose while you lounge on the sofa.

Around FreeAssociates, we almost never use them. We screen-share constantly. But knowing everyone’s working at home, nobody is expected to put on their makeup or even get out of their pajamas (though I recommend it) just to talk to each other. And client calls have almost always been audio-only.

But now things are changing.

I did a Zoom call the other day with a bunch of people I’d never met before. So I made a custom background — a lovely graphic based on this website in fact — and used that. Stupid move. I looked like an amateur and, worse, a self-promotional one. When the call got dropped at the 40-minute mark and we had to reconnect, I dropped the background and just showed my perfectly nice home office instead.

But your background might be your bedroom. In that case, I’ve seen backgrounds used well. A friend puts up gorgeous pieces of artwork on his Zooms that look like he’s sitting in front of a huge mural. Pretty effective, professional and not distracting.

Seth Godin — god of marketing, publishing and online learning — has posted a nice, simple reference for your Zoom calls. Be conscious, but don’t obsess. Be professional but not stiff. Be trusted. Be heard.

Here you go.

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