Tired of video meetings? “Zoom fatigue,” as we learned early on in the pandemic, is very real. There are even scientific explanations as to why all this time on Zoom, Webex, Teams etc. leaves us feeling more tired and stressed than when commuting, meeting in-person and attending on-location events.
It’s easy to let best practices slide when you’re experiencing fatigue from yet-another video meeting. However, poor habits can negatively impact impressions, so be mindful. Even with full and hybrid returns to office, virtual meetings are now cemented into everyday professional life, so pay attention.
Avoid the mistakes of:
1. Forgetting to use mute
If you need to speak to someone in your household, look through a pile of papers or don’t want to silence the ringer and alerts on your phone, mute your microphone! Not only can everyone hear these distracting noises, they’re often amplified when near the microphone. This holds true for unexpected background noise as well, so use that mute button liberally. And importantly, if you’re responding to emails during a meeting, muting yourself is a welcomed courtesy so others don’t have to listen to keyboard tapping. (Learn more on managing distractions while working from home here.)
2. Taking casual too far
Summer months allow for more casual dress, but watch how far you take wardrobe adjustments ahead of video meetings. Men might want to reach for a t-shirt, but are better off opting for a polo instead. For women, a sleeveless blouse is acceptable, but a casual tank top is not. You still make visual impressions during every video meeting, so it’s important to choose a style that conveys professionalism and that you’re present and committed to work, not on vacation.
3. Skipping the final background check
If you’re dreading your next Zoom and share your go-to space for video meetings, remember to double check surroundings before you log on. Taking a moment to remove distracting visuals (like empty cups and plates from the person before), adjust lighting (like closing blinds to eliminate glare) and close windows (to prevent noisy interference from outside) makes a difference. Within less than a minute, you can significantly improve the overall presentation on your side of the screen.
4. Looking everywhere but at the camera
While you may not want to be on a video call, when you don’t look at the camera, it comes across as avoiding eye contact and not paying attention. So don’t be obvious and look down for blocks of time as you read texts, emails or scroll through social media on your phone. The same holds true for turning away from the screen to look out the window or watch tv.
For those with two screens, avoid constantly turning your head away from the camera to look at the other screen. While a quick glance to check something is fine, if you look away from the camera for extended periods, it suggests that you’re distracted and perhaps don’t care about the meeting or value others’ time. Positive nonverbal cues, especially eye contact and facial expressions, make a big difference in communicating that you’ve genuinely “showed up” for the video meeting.
If you’re regularly on video meetings, you’ve likely grown weary and let go of some best practices you previously followed with diligence. Since meeting with people screen-to-screen is now a regular part of the business day, virtual presence plays an increasingly important role in defining your personal brand and best representing your company.
Avoid the common mistakes that communicate you’re no longer invested. Don’t let fatigue from “performing” during video meetings wear down your commitment to making positive impressions each day, both internally within your organization and externally as well.