What will help you and others feel most comfortable and least distracted in a Zoom meeting? The following questions are meant to help you prepare for a video conference meeting where you will be visible and speaking on screen either with someone or for an audience.
Where will you make the call?
Will you be video conferencing from home? Do you have access to an office or meeting space at home or elsewhere? If you have the option of reserving a meeting space at a library or on campus, would you be more or less comfortable making the call in such a space?
What will the background of the call be?
One advantage of video conferencing is that you have independent control over the setting. Before your meeting, turn on your device’s camera to preview what your audience will see. Are you happy with what’s visible behind you? If not, do you have the option of using a virtual background or rearranging your space? How do you like the camera angle and the lighting? If you are using a laptop computer, you may decide to move it back or place it on top of some books to raise the screen to eye level or adjust the view. You have choices.
How much privacy do you need?
Consider not only location but also the level of privacy you would like for this call. Who may be in earshot of your call? Do you plan to use speaker headphones, or will you use your device’s microphones and speakers? Will you leave your microphone on at all times (as is typical in a one-on-one meeting), or will you be toggling the microphone on only when you are called upon to speak (to minimize background noise in a meeting with many attendees)?
How will you dress for the appointment?
Especially if your video conference is a job interview, presentation, or another professional opportunity, you may need to think about what you will wear. In general, aim to dress similarly to how you would be dressing if you were meeting in person. For more advice on interviewing remotely, consult these tips on virtual and phone interviews from UNC Career Services.
How will you create an atmosphere in which you can focus?
It is easier to become distracted when video conferencing than when meeting in person, so do what you can to identify and avoid potential distractions in advance.
Think about how to avoid digital distractions. For example, turn off notifications on your computer and phone, put your phone on silent, and minimize or close web browsers and applications irrelevant to the video conference. If you find the thumbnail of your own face distracting, it may also help to minimize or disable the self-view display during your meeting.
Think about how to avoid interruptions. Wherever you’ve chosen to Zoom, could it help to put up a “do not disturb” sign to remind potential visitors that you’re busy? If you’re at home, you may also need to think about keeping pets out of the room. But if an unavoidable interruption pops up during your session, be prepared to keep your sense of humor and move on!
What helps you stay comfortable?
Plan to eat before your meeting rather than during it, but if you’ll be speaking extensively, you may appreciate having something to drink at hand.
What kind of practice might help?
At a minimum, make sure to test the video conferencing software in advance to ensure it’s set up and working properly on your device. You can test drive the software and practice your video conferencing skills on your own or with a friend, family member, Career Services counselor, or academic coach.
UNC Career Services. “Virtual and Phone Interviews.” https://careers.unc.edu/students/interviewing/virtual-and-phone-interviews (accessed July 29, 2020).
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.
You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Learning Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
If you enjoy using our handouts, we appreciate contributions of acknowledgement.