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Work-from-home tools to master: Zoom for video conferencing

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Note: Products and services mentioned in this article are for illustrative purposes only. They should not imply an endorsement.

When books are written about this unprecedented time in our nation’s history, two of the lasting images will likely be facemasks and Zoom screens. Zoom is so ubiquitous, it has become to video conferencing what Kleenex is to facial tissue. Even though everyone is using Zoom, it’s amazing how few people have actually spent time learning how to use it effectively. There’s no excuse for that.

Zoom offers tons of instructional videos on top of what you can easily find on YouTube and elsewhere. I urge you to share them with your clients so they’re up to speed on Zoom as well. You don’t want to waste the first 15 minutes of a conference helping your client figure out which buttons to push — or worse, fumbling around the interface yourself.

You’re supposed to be the teacher and mentor here. You don’t want to look foolish.

So why don’t we just use conference calls? Video offers a deeper level of engagement when you’re eye to eye with someone, instead of being on the phone with them. Another reason video is so helpful is because the human brain has a really hard time distinguishing between seeing you in person and seeing you on a screen. Either way it seems very real. Don’t believe me? What happens when you’re immersed in a feature length movie? By the end of the film, you feel like you know the actors personally since you’ve gotten to know them so well. That’s the power of visual.

Consider video conferencing instead of phone calls for three reasons:

1) It enables trust (i.e., Can I see you?)
2) It fosters engagement (i.e., Are we both paying attention?)
3) It facilitates alignment (i.e., Are we on the same page/scree?)

Let’s take them one at a time:

1. Trust

People feel like they know you and trust you more when they can see your face. Why does my wife consider the local TV weatherman one of her best friends? Because at 10:15 every night, he’s on camera. Building trust is important when you can’t meet with people face to face. I know it’s not easy, but you need to lean into this new normal as much as you can. If your competitors are not leaning in, fine. That just puts you in an even better position to be a leader and a trusted advisor.

2. Engagement

Another reason video is so compelling for client meetings is that you can’t hide what you’re doing on a video conference call. Everyone has to make eye contact and show that they’re paying attention. You can’t be cutting checks or surfing vacation rentals when you’re on a Zoom call with clients — and vice versa. Also, it’s much easier to show supporting documents on your screen than it is trying to share those docs as email attachments on the call. Unlike phone calls, texts and emails, a screen builds trust.

3. Alignment

Like Zoom, Facetime, Join.me and Webex, etc. are all part of the macro-trend toward visual communication in this work-from-home age. And, if video is the way we’re going to be communicating from now on, we have to make sure we’re all on the same page or screen. For instance, if we’re just on the phone and you hear me say the word “tiger,” you will probably envision a fierce, striped animal growling at the zoo. But I have young daughters. I could also be referring to the animated tiger in the Calvin and Hobbes comics. However, if I actually draw a tiger on my Zoom screen, we will both be on the same page (i.e., screen) and know exactly which type of tiger I’m talking about.

I am not endorsing a particular tool. You can pick what works best for you based on the criteria most important to you. Here were the four key criteria for our firm:

1. No downloads.
2. No long-term contracts.
3. Stability. The video shouldn’t cut out no matter how many people are on the call.
4. The ability to have a whiteboard function. Just click a button and draw. That’s really useful for your clients.

Tools like Zoom and Loom (see my previous article) are inexpensive, easy to learn, and have no software to install. Mastering tools like Zoom and Loom are all part of dressing for success when working from home and maintaining the highest level of professionalism in the remote-work world in which we live.

What’s been your experience with teleworking? I’d love to hear from you.

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