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How to Have a Zoom Meeting That Is (Almost) as Good as Being There
These tips were originally developed by the UCSF Program Management Office (PMO). They have been expanded by IT.
- Set expectations ahead of time.
Remote-meeting engagement is often better if everyone joins via video rather than voice alone. Let participants know ahead of time if your expectation is for them to be joining by video or if audio-only is fine.
- Get participants engaged during the meeting.
Greet people as they join the meeting, just as you would when people enter a room in person. Be mindful of who's spoken and who hasn’t, and call on people to ensure that everyone is participating equally.
- Turn on your camera.
It’s easy to get distracted by other things when you’re on a conference call. Turning on your camera can help encourage others to do the same, and it helps boost meeting engagement as a result.
- Wear headphones.
Wearing headphones improves your own experience of hearing others in the meeting, and it also improves the experience for everyone else. This is because it prevents feedback and echoing that can occur when participants must continually mute and unmute their microphones.
- Enter your participant ID.
Entering your unique participant ID when you join a meeting ensures that Zoom recognizes you and displays your name for others in the meeting to see.
- Be mindful of ambient noise.
Keep your microphone on mute if you aren't talking. If you're in a meeting with a Polycom phone, be aware that noises that seem fairly quiet to you (like crumpling up a sandwich wrapper) will sound much louder to those joining the meeting remotely.
- Use Zoom tools for more robust and engaged participation.
Whiteboards can be used for brainstorming and grouping ideas, and – if you’re creative – even dot-voting using the “stamp” tool. If you haven’t used Zoom’s whiteboard feature before, check out their handy Zoom whiteboard guide. Zoom also has a helpful tutorial on the whiteboard annotation tools.
- Orient people to the tools you’ll be using.
Spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting orienting everyone to any tools you’ll want them to use. Let people practice sharing screens or writing on whiteboards.
- Harness the power of group work.
For meetings with more than five participants, group work can be both more engaging and more effective, as it allows groups to tackle different challenges and then come back together as a whole to share what they’ve accomplished.
- Organize breakout groups ahead of time.
Zoom allows you to presort participants into breakout rooms. Visit Zoom’s guide to Pre-assigning participants to breakout rooms for a helpful how-to. Some pro tips:
- Choose the Import rooms and participants from CSV file option for a better experience.
- Read through the Zoom guide to anticipate things you may need to troubleshoot during the meeting.
- Watch this brief but helpful video from Zoom about running good breakout rooms.
- Check and adjust.
Just like anything else we try out, it’s good end-of-meeting practice to reflect on what went well and what could have gone better. Set aside the last five minutes of the meeting to check in with participants and get feedback about their experience. You and your team will get better and better at remote meetings with practice and an open mind.