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10 Things I Learned Using Zoom Video This Year

Meetings by zoom

by Yvonne DiVita

Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Zoomies. 

The first three Zooms refer to the platform used to connect people via video, in 2020, when we all went underground because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The last one refers to what dogs do when they run around the yard like they're high on speed. It has nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to let you know what it you won't call your calls, Zoomies. 

Okay, now that we have that cleared up, I will share the 10 things I learned this year, using Zoom video calls for my business. I expect you to share the things you've learned, in the comments.

  1. I have a big nose. There is nothing worse than being on a call where your image shrinks to 1/10th the size it would normally be and discovering all anyone can see is your nose. 

    I can deal with the hair. In a pinch, I can pull it back into a bun and feel rather respectable. But the nose. The nose sticks out like a ... big, fat carrot on a snowman's face. Well, in this case, a snowwoman's face. I am seeing a therapist about it, so no worries. 

  2. Other people sound even funnier than I sound. Not all other people. Not you. You sound perfectly fine. In fact, you have what we used to call a voice for radio. In other words, a good, commanding, deep bass voice that attracts attention and makes all of us sit up whenever you come on the screen. 

    Other people... not so much. They squeak. Or they mumble. Or they shriek because they have their sound turned so low they think no one can hear them. To them, I say, get your act together. Check your audio. Ask if people can hear you. How easy is that?

  • I learned the difference between speaker view and gallery view, and how to set my system for each. Too many of us don't take the time before a call to understand how the tool we're using works.

    I'm sad to say, that has been me, in the past. I did learn, quickly, that it was my responsibility to understand where the buttons were and how to toggle between chat and no chat. I learned it because I asked the question early on - sometimes in the private part of the chat so it wouldn't disturb the rest of the call. Everyone on the call is open to helping, if you just ask. 

  • The learning curve is humongous. There's a big word. It's a real word, too. Doesn't seem like one. Seems like a made up word - humongous. And, by golly, it is! Here's what says about it: 


    First recorded in 1965–70; Americanism; expressive coinage, perhaps reflecting huge and monstrous with stress pattern of tremendous

    If you did not find learning how to effectively use Zoom a humongous effort, do tell. I feel as if I'm still learning, and 2020 is almost over.

  • Your background matters. Not your resume. That's for another discussion. I'm talking about what we see behind you. I'm so impressed with folks who have green screens or who use the virtual background in Zoom. 

    I also like people who should their home office, or their family room, because they're on their laptop and the background is a beautiful painting or a bookshelf. Very nice. Not so good - closet doors. I know whereof I speak. My background used to be closet doors. I was roundly criticized for it by my daughter, Chloe DiVita, and I took her advice and moved my desk. Now I have a nice bookcase behind me. 

    Yvonne with purple hair

  • Being prepared for the call is critical. This is not like being prepared for a phone conversation where you can put your phone on mute and rummage all over the place for paperwork or critical documents. 

    You need to have everything ready, in front of you, within easy reach. You also need to KNOW what's in front of you and why you have it there. What makes it important on the call? If you're the presenter of a Zoom webinar, you know this. However, webinars often include only voice, with some sort of slide presentation, so you would have that covered, I expect.

    What I'm talking about is live Zoom video. Don't be shaking your head wondering where the book you wanted to talk about is, or the paperwork you wanted to discuss is. I do my best to be prepared and sometimes, a conversation gets off on a different track and I find myself scrounging around for a book or a document, and it's not good. In order to do this effectively, be prepared, I mean, create an agenda and stick to it. 

  • Learn where the mute button is. On a collective Zoom video call, where more than 3 people are meeting, the use of the  mute button is imperative! In masterminds, the person who is holding the call will mute all attendees and unmute them as needed. 

    Sometimes the person being unmuted has the mute button on at her end, also. So when the presenter unmutes her, we still can't hear her. Wasted minutes as we all pantomime "I can't hear you!" 

  • I learned it's good to look pretty. No, I don't mean run out to the beauty parlor. Or rush out to get a haircut. Or, put on your party duds. I mean, take a shower. Comb your hair. If you wear make-up, put it on. If you have a button down shirt, wear it. 

    This often flies in the advice of folks who favor a more relaxed kind of meeting, now that we're not all battling traffic to get to the office. But, in truth, you should dress the part. If you routinely wear T-shirts, that's fine. Just be selective. Read whatever message is on the shirt, before you put it on. My husband, Tom, likes to wear his tuxedo T-shirt to special events. It's always a bit hit and he feels good in it. I approve. 

    Speak up on zoom

  • Speak slowly. Human beings tend to believe whatever comes out of their mouths, in any conversation, reaches the ears of their listener. How sad. Too often, we speak quickly, forgetting to enunciate, and the truth is - we mumble. We don't mean to mumble. But we mumble. 

    On a particular mastermind group I was attending, when someone was called on to speak, or even to merely ask a question, I sometimes felt like I was lost in the Twilight Zone somewhere because I couldn't figure out what the person was saying. He spoke too fast. She spoke with marbles in her mouth. Whatever it was, without the presenter, who had better ears than mine, it would seem, repeating the question, I'd have never known what was going one. 

    Truth is, people do this leaving voicemails also. They rush, they mumble, and even replaying the voicemail often leaves me clueless. All I ask is that you slow down. Speak properly. Enunciate. And I will try to do the same. 

  • Honor the pause. This follows #9 on purpose. There is nothing more powerful than a pause. It only needs to be 3-5 seconds. This allows people to catch up with what you're saying or teaching. It allows people to think. It gives us a chance to say, "I didn't catch that, can you repeat it?" without loudly interrupting you. 

    The pause does not make you seem like you don't know what you're doing or talking about. Rather, the exact opposite. If you're comfortable pausing for a few seconds, looking straight into the camera, or at the audience wherever they are, you are displaying confidence and self-assurance. You'll be golden. 

    As noted here at Public Speaking Super Powers, the pause is a way to demonstrate commas, periods, and paragraph breaks.
  • Zoom video calls are not going away any time soon. They have become a staple of the business environment. Learn to be a good audience member and a good presenter. Start by reviewing my lessons, here. 

    Now, what did I leave out? And no, I never said you had a big nose, I said I had a big nose. Let us never talk of it again. Leave a comment.


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