How to Be a Good Participant in a Zoom Meeting
Every meeting is an opportunity to exchange ideas and move forward with projects. In teams that have members that are based in countries far from each other (like many of our customers’ teams), meetings also present an opportunity to connect with people you don’t get to see on an everyday basis. If you’ve already participated in a Zoom meeting, you likely understand the reason why so many companies are using our solution as a way to spark collaboration and innovation.
We’ve published several posts on how to be a good host of a Zoom meeting or webinar. It’s about time we spoke about being a good participant. After all, people joining meetings need to be just as prepared as the host. Here are some tips for participants to help ensure that all of the goals of the meeting come to fruition:
Ask the host if there’s an agenda.
Unless you’re joining a spontaneous meeting that’s meant to be a simple brainstorming session or check-in, there’s bound to be some method to organizing it. Asking the meeting’s organizer for an agenda does two things:
- If the organizer doesn’t have an agenda, you’re sending a signal that this is the time to make one or at least disclose the themes that will be covered.
- If you receive an agenda, you’ll get insight into how the meeting is organized.
Understanding the structure of a meeting helps you know when you will find your “cue” to focus as much of your energy as possible in the things that most interest you. You can also come up with some pre-determined questions to ask, which might inspire the rest of the participants in the meeting to jump in more actively with inquiries of their own.
Don’t be afraid to show your ideas.
Have you ever had something you thought would be awesome to share with the rest of the team, but were too worried about the way in which the idea would be received? Yeah, stop doing that. Present your idea with confidence. You can acknowledge potential problems with the idea, but have solutions for the problems ready to go.
Make use of screen sharing as much as you can to present visual cues for those ideas that just can’t be explained sufficiently in words. You could even share online whiteboards from Zoom on your iPad to doodle the point you’re trying to get through.
Still feeling too timid about presenting a new idea? Rehearse it before the meeting. Start up Zoom, invite a non-judgmental but honest friend to your little practice meeting, and recite everything that is in your head. Maybe all you need is a little frank input from another person before you shoot the idea out there.
This is simple. First of all, mute yourself if you’re in a loud area or if you need to take another call. A great rule of thumb is just to mute yourself whenever you’re not speaking so that any background noises or the clacking of your fingers against your keyboard don’t annoy all the other participants.
If you’re going to be doing something visually distracting like blowing your nose or turning away to talk to someone else in your room for a few moments, it’s also a good idea to temporarily disable your video so that the meeting can go ahead without everyone wondering who you’re talking too, what you’re eating, how funny you look when you sneeze, and so forth. You can also participate for the whole meeting with your video off if you’re somewhere less-than-presentable, like in your bed nursing a cold. Both the mute audio and stop video are found in the bottom left corner of your Zoom screen.
Additionally, if a speaker is having their moment, sometimes it is best to not interrupt them, even if you have something crucial to add. In this case, we recommend trying the chat feature. Just click on Chat at the bottom of your screen, make sure that you select the person you want to chat with or select All, and hammer away at the keyboard. This way, people can see what you said as soon as the discussion cools ever so slightly and they start noticing a little blip under their noses.
Congratulate the organizer.
Even though this may be seen as “sucking up” to the person organizing the meeting, it is a good practice to speak with the person and offer your thanks for hosting the meeting. Yes, even if the meeting was slightly off pitch, it’s very helpful when you offer your congrats to the person organizing it. This does a couple of things:
- It turns the organizer’s attention towards you.
- It opens you up to the opportunity to provide input about the meeting. If the organizer admits that he or she didn’t like how the meeting went, perhaps you can offer your perspective as to why that might have happened while reminding the person that awkward meetings aren’t often just one person’s fault.
More often than not, you’ll cast a positive light on yourself as a participant and as a person. Now, if you want to get started on your own Zoom adventures but haven’t tried our video call platform yet, go ahead and sign up for a free account!