That at least some—and often all—participants of a meeting attend virtually has become the norm, especially since the pandemic. According to a survey by the US communication intelligence company Vyopta, more than 68% of companies are even planning to permanently reduce their conference space and to handle it exclusively this way in the future.
If only there wasn’t this patchy media literacy that still prevails in many countries… That’s where this article comes in to help. Our guide tells you how to conduct your next virtual meeting more professionally and what you should bear in mind.
Please note this article is about the basics of what Zoom is and how it works. For a more detailed look into tips on how to hold a virtual meeting, check out our separate article on virtual meeting and Zoom etiquette for business professionals.
How does a Zoom call work?
Basically, a Zoom call works very similarly to normal (analogue) meetings. Everyone meets in a conference room and discusses what needs to be discussed.
The only difference is that it is a virtual room that participants can join from anywhere in the world. As long as they have a suitable device with a camera and microphone (smartphone, tablet, notebook) and a steady internet connection. Since it’s a video call, you can see each other in Zoom.
This makes the contact more personal and engaging than with a phone call. That said, the absence of a physical presence nevertheless makes this form of communication somewhat more complicated than a face-to-face meeting. And this is especially the case the larger the group attending the meeting becomes. The result is that you need to put a bit more effort into moderation.
Joining via link or meeting ID & password
Similar to the earlier, purely voice-based phone conference, you might need to enter a meeting ID and password, depending on the user settings. In case no special security measures are planned for the virtual meeting room, the Zoom call can also be joined simply by sending a link.
Visual support via screen sharing
Presentations, reports, software demos. Information can be made visible and discussed just as easily and conveniently for all participants via screen sharing as would be the case in a regular on-site meeting.
So it’s no wonder that Zoom and similar tools are becoming increasingly popular not only for team meetings from the remote office, but also for sales and job interviews.
Asking questions via chat and reporting function
Of course, the rule of politeness dictates that participants should be allowed to finish what they’re saying. However, if you need to make yourself heard quickly, there is also an integrated chat and reporting function in addition to the video stream.
The biggest advantages of Zoom Call
Before we get to our tips for even more professional Zoom calls, here’s a quick look at the benefits of the video conferencing service:
- Use from anywhere
Zoom offers the particularly practical advantage that the software can also be used online, meaning without prior installation, as long as at least one of the participating parties has the software installed. This helps immensely when it comes to making interviews as accessible as possible and has a particularly positive effect on the candidate experience—and thus also on your employer branding.
- Inclusion by bridging large distances
International teams offer great diversity and enrich the company culture. However, face-to-face meetings are difficult to implement when these teams work hybrid or completely remotely across the globe. Zoom is a great way to bridge these distances. In fact, regular video conferencing with Zoom and similar tools can build stronger remote working cultures even beyond the necessary communication. It also means you can hire international employees (global recruitment) regardless of their physical location.
- Higher security through “lockable” conference rooms
Do you want to limit the number of participants or keep a meeting confidential? Then the virtual meeting room can be “locked” just like the physical one to keep unwanted guests out. And even in general, joining a meeting—unless otherwise set—usually requires the consent of the “host” first.
How to make a professional Zoom videoconference a success
As you can see, apart from the digitalisation of the conference, not much has changed. Nevertheless, there are a few points you should bear in mind for a successful and professional-looking Zoom call.
With these tips and minimal effort, the next video conference can be held in a much more organised and structured way:
Always create appointments with a Zoom Link
Even if your meeting is planned as a physical, in-office meeting, it can always happen that public transport is cancelled, children unexpectedly fall ill, or something similar prevents participants from coming to the office.
To ensure that they can still attend as planned and that the appointment does not have to be postponed, it is advisable to always include a Zoom link in the calendar invite for any planned meeting. With good internal communication, efficient scheduling will then still be possible.
Adhere to meeting hygiene
Meeting hygiene for Zoom calls is not about wearing a mask or keeping your distance, but about the professional handling of screen sharing. If presentations, reports, or only very specific files and information are to be shown, you should take great care, especially in calls with people from outside the company (such as sales and job interviews), to ensure that:
- Your desktop is tidy
- Only the desired information is visible
- No wrong clicks are possible and
- No data that needs to be protected is visible
Unintentional glimpses of privacy-sensitive information do not make a good impression and can cause serious financial and reputational damage.
Choose a quiet and undisturbed environment
Another hygiene measure is to choose a suitable environment for your call. Choose a representative, quiet, bright, and friendly room with good acoustics and ideally block out possible disturbing factors such as flatmates, children, or pets.
This measure also serves a bit of data protection, but above all professionalism and a smooth process.
Appoint a co-moderator
If you are the organiser of the Zoom call, appoint a co-moderator right at the beginning of the meeting, if possible.
Background: If the host loses the internet connection, the meeting might be cancelled for everyone and has to be restarted. This costs valuable time and upsets speakers and listeners alike. However, if a co-moderator has been appointed, ownership simply passes to them and the meeting can continue.
The co-moderator is ideally a trusted person who has the same data and files at hand and can continue the meeting just as professionally if necessary.
Always announce the start of the meeting
If a participant is completely unable to attend or if important general processes or programmes are being explained, it may make sense to record a Zoom call. This can save you a lot of time and work when onboarding new employees, for example.
However, the following is important here: Not everyone wants to be recorded, and that needs to be respected. So if it is intended to record the Zoom call, always announce this in advance and give the participants the opportunity to object or at least deactivate their camera. Keyword: personal rights…
Establish Zoom call rules and guidelines
Your company has probably established rules on how to deal with employees, customers, and applicants. These rules must now be applied to the use of video conferencing solutions. Allowing people to finish speaking, not insulting anyone, or introducing unknown participants are of course all well known.
However, Zoom guidelines deal with much more than that, such as the questions:
- How many minutes after the starting time participants are still allowed to join
- When questions may be asked
- How (in what form) requests to speak should take place
- Whether and to what extent the use of fake backgrounds is desirable
- When cameras and microphones should be turned on or off
- Whether people are allowed to eat and/or drink during a call
For more information on this topic, see our separate guide on Zoom etiquette for business meetings.
Ask for feedback
It is simply part of learning and improving. So don’t forget to ask for feedback in between or at the end of the call at the latest, to learn from it and to quickly address any points of criticism.
Zoom is easy to use if you know and keep in mind a few basics. The fairly straightforward basic requirements are limited to the availability of a fast internet connection and a suitable device with camera and microphone.
Even older, less internet- and software-savvy employees can familiarise themselves with Zoom relatively quickly and, with a little practice, make professional Zoom calls in no time at all.
Do you have an online interview with applicants coming up?
You can find more in-depth information and tips for video-based job interviews via Zoom, as well as popular software alternatives with similar functions, in our article on bringing job interviews online.