To ZOOM or Not to ZOOM? That is the question.
BY PAT BURNS
Shakespeare’s opening phrase of a soliloquy given by Prince Hamlet in the so-called “nunnery scene” could apply to the bemoaning, the frustration of life today, and the inexorable Zooming.
At first, during the beginning of the pandemic, ZOOM meetings were fun. It was a way to see each other and it allowed us to feel connected while observing the seriousness of “stay at home” orders. Unfortunately, that warm and fuzzy feeling from Zooming didn’t last long. Now, it seems a day doesn’t go by where a ZOOM meeting isn’t scheduled. And, it can be wearisome.
To get the best out of these Zooming times, I’d like to recommend some pointers. Hopefully, by adding one or two of these recommendations Zooming can be a little less tiresome.
There are three distinctive types of Zoom meetings. Business, personal, and family. There’s also a fourth Zoom that I won’t be discussing. Zoom classes for kids doing online distance learning present a whole other world of crazy issues. I’ll let today’s educators address those. For we grandparents, I’m focusing on relevant Zoom meeting tips for personal, family, and business gatherings.
Don’t know what Zoom is? Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing service you can use to virtually meet with others – either by video or audio-only or both, all while conducting live chats – and it lets you record those sessions to view later.
Personal – It’s a good idea to consider the number of people joining the Zoom gathering and the time allotment. With Zoom’s free accounts, there is a limit of 45 minutes which seems like plenty of time but if there are more than eight or nine people it can be difficult for everyone to have a chance to speak.
It’s also fun to consider adding a few props. This is especially helpful if you didn’t have time to do your makeup or have your hair styled. You could wear a hat or, as one of my friends did, wear a tiara. You’ll find ideas in your nearest party store. A glass of wine makes an enjoyable prop, too.
It’s fun to “grab” a gallery photo of everyone in the Zoom meeting by either using the screen capture feature on your smartphone or on your desktop.
Family – Certainly, family is very similar to personal. There are some slightly different angles to consider if you’re including younger children. Be aware of their attention span. It helps to send specific “kid-friendly” activities in advance. That way when each child joins the Zoom gathering they’ll have a special part to play and not feel so bored.
Here are some “kid-friendly” ideas:
- Have them tell the family a story about a unique experience or about something new they learned
- Have them tell a joke or silly story they heard that really made them laugh
- Have them draw a picture to share of their favorite animal or video game character
- Have them tell the family what their favorite meal is and why
If the Zoom gathering is to celebrate a family member’s birthday, have a cake and ask everyone to sing Happy Birthday. It’s great to have candles and everyone blow together, too. That makes for a really funny picture.
How to grab a screenshot on your Smartphone
- Press the Power and Volume down buttons at the same time.
- If that doesn’t work, press and hold the Power button for a few seconds. Then tap Screenshot
Business – For business Zoom meetings it’s very much like an in-person meeting. There needs to be a well-planned agenda and respect for everyone’s time. Don’t overcrowd the agenda. It’s important to leave time for conversation, input, and collaboration, or, just like children, attendees will be bored. Have a brief icebreaker. Each attendee could tell the group something positive that happened to them in the past week. Make sure they keep the sharing to one minute. And, just like an in-person meeting, be sure to start and end on time.
If you are hosting a special guest speaker, it is very important to make sure they understand your audience, what the expectations are and the results you’re hoping for from the guest’s presentation. Establish with your guest upfront that you may need to interrupt for clarification or redirection based on questions or chat comments. You would be surprised to learn how often this needs to happen.
Business Zoom meetings will probably continue and be part of the “new normal” for meetings.
Hamlet’s opening question of uncertainty congers up similar thoughts about what to expect when the pandemic is fully contained and we’re back to “normal.” Will we still Zoom? That is the question.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – PAT BURNS
Pat Burns is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Orange County Children’s Book Festival; a Celebrity Journalist, Film Reporter, the author of Grandparents Rock®. Also, a happy grandmother of four.