10 Ways to make your zoom calls more professional

By freshthinkingcapital

Posted on 22nd April 2020

If you have had to transition to Zoom video calls because of COVID-19, you have probably been hit with several different frustrations. Losing WiFi signal, problems with your microphone or a member of your family (usually ages 1-13) making a surprise entrance halfway through a meeting are all becoming a common occurrence.

With the world of work changing, it’s important to embrace the new etiquette for virtual meetings. In addition to the many new features communicating virtually can offer.

1. Ask your company to design you a branded Zoom background.


If you don’t have the luxury of your own office or desk space in your house, it could be quite common for people you live with to stroll through the video half-way through the call. Even though this is a great opportunity to introduce your boss and colleagues to your family members, it could also be a distraction at a crucial point in the call.

Some Zoomers have taken to adopting some of Zoom’s default virtual backgrounds. Such as a beach or a lovely tropical background. This could be seen as unprofessional and has nothing to do with your company or brand. A graphic designer can make you a branded background with your company colours, logo and your name and job title in minutes. As well as hiding this weeks laundry drying, it presents an opportunity to showcase and flaunt your brand to new contacts.

How to add a branded virtual background on Zoom:

  1. Press the settings button in the top right-hand corner of the zoom homepage.
  2. Select the virtual background option on the left-hand side of the settings page.
  3. Press the ‘+’ sign to upload your background photo.
  4. Select the photo you just uploaded to make that your default background picture.
  5. Unselect the option ‘mirror my video’ at the bottom of the page. This will show you how your screen looks to other attendees in a Zoom call.



2. Buy a clip-on microphone to improve your Zoom audio.


Not all laptops have the best audio, and even the ones that do can be muffled in certain environments. If you’re trying to sell, persuade or teach on Zoom; every one of your words will be important for your customer to hear. You can buy a good, small microphone that can be attached to a piece of clothing for less than £15 on Amazon. This extra quality sound could be the difference between making a sale or teaching a great lecture/seminar.


3. Always mute your audio when you’re not speaking on a Zoom conference call.


Anyone who has been part of a Zoom meeting will relate. You’re in a conference call with 5+ members and someone has decided to not mute their microphone. Completely unaware that in the background the full conference can hear them typing, shuffling papers and the Netflix episode that they are listening to. A quick click on mute can help remove any distracting noises from the business of business.

Holding the Alt button and pressing A is a quick short-cut for muting your microphone on Zoom (cmd+shift+a for Mac). You can then press and hold the space key to temporarily unmute yourself.


4. Turn off the Zoom waiting room setting and add breakrooms.


Zoom added a privacy setting recently so that you must manually accept each person into the call. In our view, just like an in-person meeting, that 5 minutes of chit chat before a meeting can ease tensions and make people feel more comfortable on a call. Leaving someone on a waiting screen is likely to take divert the person’s attention away from the meeting; whilst they fill up that 5 minutes scrolling through their phone or checking emails.

If it is a group meeting involving various external stakeholders and you would rather that they did not mingle without you present. You can assign attendees to pre-assigned breakout rooms before the meeting starts. You can even set up multiple Zoom breakout rooms so you can assign people from the same company to the same breakroom and vice versa. For more details on breakout rooms see: https://bit.ly/2Vkx5uz 

How to adjust your Zoom waiting room settings:

  1. Log into your zoom account on your web browser and select the settings option.
  2. Select the ‘In Meeting (Advanced)’ option on the left-hand side of the screen.
  3. Scroll down to the ‘Waiting Room’ option and then click the button on the right to disable this.
  4. To edit your breakout room options. Select the ‘In Meeting (Advanced)’ option and enable the breakout room setting.





5. Soften up your skin.


If you did not have time to put on your face mask last night, do not worry, Zoom has a feature for that! This is more of a fun feature as opposed to ‘professional.’ But for those who are conscious about their appearance, this feature will lighten the focus on your camera and minimise any skin blemishes you may have.

How to touch up your appearance on Zoom:

  1. Press the settings button in the top right-hand corner of the zoom homepage.
  2. Select the video option on the top left-hand corner of the screen.
  3. Then click the ‘Touch up my appearance button.’


6. Screen sharing and Zoom’s whiteboard feature.


Bring the webinar and presentation feel to all your meetings. This is one of our favourite features of Zoom. Instead of wasting time writing incessantly long emails trying to describe to a colleague how to do something, just share your screen.

A quick shortcut to sharing your screen is Alt + Shift + S for PC users (Cmd+Shift+A for mac).

Make sure that when you’re sharing your screen that you’ve ticked the ‘silence system notifications button.’ Otherwise, you will be bombarding your listeners with your outlook and windows update notification sounds.

How to turn off windows notification sounds when sharing your screen on Zoom:

  1. Press the settings button in the top right-hand corner of the zoom homepage.
  2. Select the share screen option on the left-hand side of the page.
  3. Click the ‘Silence system notifications when sharing desktop’ button.






Another great Zoom feature is the whiteboard setting on screen share. If you’re bored of ordinary PowerPoint Presentations, Zooms whiteboard feature takes things back to the old school chalkboard style of presenting!

How to use Zoom’s whiteboard feature on screen share:

  1. When on a zoom call, select the screen share option at the bottom of the screen and then select the whiteboard screen on the top row.
  2. Use the whiteboard features to engage listeners with an interactive presentation.




7. Use the Zoom chat mode to ask questions.


If you are in a call with 5 people or more, it’s not uncommon for people to shout over each other. This can then easily turn into a competition of who can shout the loudest. Meetings run more thoroughly when each person has the chance to say what they need to say. in full, with no pesky interruptions. So, using the chat section can be a good way to ask questions whilst someone is presenting/speaking. That way, they can get round to answering your questions in their own time.

Whilst in a zoom call, the chat button is located on the tab bar at the bottom of your screen. Another great feature for zoom conferences is the poll option. If you have zoom pro you can use this to create custom polls. Which can be useful when making collective group decisions. See more about how to create polls here: https://bit.ly/3ahxDp1


8. Record Zoom meetings for future reference.


With everyone’s permission, of course, recording a meeting is always a good idea. You never know when someone’s going to blurt out the next multi-million-pound idea on your next 9am Zoom call. So, to make sure this doesn’t die a premature death along with the call, make sure you record it. This is also great for employee one to ones or presentations.

You can start to record the video by pressing Alt+R (cmd+shift+r for Mac). Although, you do have to be the host of the meeting to do this.

When recording a zoom call, you can also transcribe the audio of the full call. Which can be a huge time saver as you won’t have to take notes in the meeting or need to have someone else take the meeting notes. For a tutorial on how to transcribe the audio on Zoom go to https://bit.ly/2yt4A4B


9. Set up the non-verbal communication option.


For a webinar, public conference or presentation, you will usually have your audience muted. So, if everybody is muted, how do they interact with you? Yes, there is the chat feature to fall back on. Although, Zoom also offers a non-verbal communication section. Allowing users to easily click yes, no, speed up or slow down without them having to type anything.

How to activate the non-verbal communication option on Zoom:

  1. Log into your zoom account on your web browser and select the settings option on the left-hand side.
  2. Select the ‘In Meeting (Basic)’ option on the left-hand side of the screen.
  3. Click on the ‘Non-Verbal Feedback’ option on the right-hand side of the screen.
  4. Then when you’re in a Zoom call. Select the manage participants option at the bottom of your screen.
  5. Afterwards, on the top right-hand side of your screen, you will see a list of all the attendees.
  6. If you ask a question, the attendees will then be able to answer quickly with one of the options displayed.
  7. The attendees’ answer will show up at the right-hand side of their name. To clear all answers, just press the ‘clear all’ button on the far right of the communication options.






10. Add your full name.


Nicknames are fine for internal meetings. But it is very easy for us to forget to change them back for formal meetings. In a chat with multiple people that you don’t know, it’s helpful for them to see what your full name is. That way, other attendees in the call can connect with you on LinkedIn and contact you after.



You can never replace in-person meetings completely. That said, virtual meetings on platforms such as Zoom has given us a new means of communication. The mass adoption of Zoom resulting from COVID-19 has already converted the masses to virtual video chatting.

Is this a bad thing? On the whole, we don’t think so. The features that Zoom offers, as described above, are endless and forever improving. As time is a commodity that we, unfortunately, can’t trade. Virtual video chat will save people heaps of time for the fact that they will no longer have to travel to every single meeting. Nevertheless, still making the interaction a little more personal than a phone call.

So, as Zoom becomes the new normal, make sure you stay well acquainted with its features and how to be ‘professional’ in all of your virtual meetings.

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