Friday 24 April 2020

Zoom Etiquette

How not to Zoom

Technology enters our lives, and etiquette lags behind. We're all Zooming now, and we need to observe certain conventions.

"I don't want to Zoom – I just can't be bothered." This translates as "I think the technology will be too daunting. In fact I don't even know how to start."

You can download Zoom from the internet – Google "Zoom download" and follow the instructions. It takes a few minutes.

If someone has emailed you a Zoom link, click on it and Zoom will install itself and take you to the meeting (if you don't already have Zoom installed).

You can use Zoom on a computer (PC or Mac), laptop, tablet or phone. You can even join meetings through a landline, though you won't be able to see anybody.


Look at the edges of the screen for controls. Video and audio bottom left, gallery view top right, Leave Meeting bottom right. Chat and Share Screen bottom centre. If you can't see the controls, pass your mouse over the borders.

You can increase or reduce the volume through the controls on the top row of your keyboard. Look for the megaphone symbol.

You can increase your own volume by clicking on audio (bottom left) and following instructions. You'll be asked to test your own microphone – it may be turned down very low. Or too high! (Shouting seems to cause "crackle".)

Look for your own image – is it flattering? Is it showing your best profile? Is it showing only the top of your head? While looking at your image, adjust the angle of your laptop screen accordingly. It helps to rest your laptop on a pile of books or monitor stand so that you are looking directly at the screen. It also helps to prop up your tablet rather than resting it on the table. If you put the tablet on a horizontal surface, you can still see everybody's face, but they can only see your ceiling. And if you're looking down at us, we're looking up at you – or more usually a close-up of your double-chin or earlobe.

If you're holding your phone in your hand, it's hard not to wave it around – which means that your image wobbles around distractingly.

Make sure the light is falling on your face – don't sit with your back to a window.

Remember that you can be seen!

"I'm tired of Zoom meetings where everybody talks at once and interrupts each other." Translation: "My group hasn't discovered the mute function."

If two people talk at once on Zoom, the technology can't decide which is the "main speaker", so you just get bits of both and can't hear either person.

Once you've all said hi and introduced yourselves, the Admin needs to MUTE YOU ALL. If you want to speak, wave and the admin will unmute you. (You can also mute and unmute yourself. Look at the microphone symbol — does it have a red line through it? You're muted. Click on the three dots on your image and you'll see options to mute or unmute.)

You can always type side-conversations in Chat (see the bottom of the screen).

If you're unmuted, remember that the rest of the group can hear EVERY SOUND YOU MAKE. Sounds near the mike are amplified: it can pick up chewing or even breathing.

If you decide to adjust the position of your laptop or tablet, please mute yourself. Again, you may not hear much but we can hear loud crashing sounds as you place your device. Position your device before the meeting starts.

If you're wearing headphones and a microphone, please keep still (or mute yourself when not speaking). Your movements can make loud sounds at our end. If you're using phone earbuds with a tiny microphone attached to the wire, make sure the mike isn't muffled against your clothes. Keep the "live" side facing outwards.

Please don't leave your mike on and wander off and have a conversation with someone else at home - we can hear you mumbling.

And conversations in the background are much louder to us than they are to you. You may be able to filter out the chat - we can't.

Remember that you can be heard!

A group singing or speaking together on Zoom can result in cacophony – this is because some people are on a slight delay, due to internet speeds. If you're the leader, don't slow down, just keep going.

Zoom seems to pick out the loudest person and decide they are the leader. It then fades down the actual leader, making it harder to follow them – and they stay quiet for a few seconds afterwards. One solution is to select Original Sound in Audio Settings.

The better the device and broadband, the better the sound.

If people complain they can't hear you, adjust your volume or get an external microphone – they don't cost much. You might as well make life easier for your colleagues – this is the new normal, and it will be with us for some time.

Q I can’t see the zoom screen and my email.

A Top right of the Zoom screen click on the word View and Exit Full Screen.

As with all manners, it's about consideration for others!

When we started doing religious services via Zoom, we spent some time discussing how we would communicate with each other. How to replace real-life whispering, looks, nods etc? In the end we concluded we just had to talk to each other. Even so, I spent a whole service with my volume turned up too high.

More here, and links to the rest.

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