Are you wondering how to start a zoom meeting or presentation now that so many people are using it? COVID-19 forced the world to switch to online sessions, mostly with Zoom. But besides the technical aspect, there are more subtle things to keep in mind.
Online meetings are more than just the same people talking online. Especially if you are used to in-person meetings, you might get value from this article. If you were more comfortable with in-person meetings, you'll need additional skills; presenting, technology management, and engaging an audience, to name a few.
As the field of view offered by a computer monitor limits the use of your full body language, your tone of voice and the words you choose become more important. The same limitations exist for the people you're talking to in these teleconferences. As a result, you can't be sure if someone is paying attention to you or watching a cat video while looking at their screen.
This article will teach you how to start a Zoom meeting or presentation in a way that makes people listen. After all, you want them to listen, take notes and be attentive, right? To create this kind of environment, you can stack the deck in your favor.
There are three stages to hosting an online presentation or meeting on Zoom - Preparation, Presentation and Follow Up.
This article will give you the ins and outs of the Preparation stage. If you want people to absorb every word you say and win your presentation before you begin, read on.
When holding any presentation, it's crucial to be prepared. For online meetings, as easy as they seem, more preparation is required than for a live, in-person presentation. You have to be prepared for everything that takes place before the meeting starts, when it starts, and for any pitfalls that could threaten your success.
Write down what you need to do before starting your Zoom meeting or presentation. What should you have? How about a helpful checklist to go through, so you'll be the most professional host amongst your peers? This may sound extremely basic, and it is, but isn't it true that the devil is in the details?
When under pressure or in a rush, you might overlook a small essential detail or two which can have significant consequences as you will see below.
1. The Background
Zoom allows you to have a virtual background if your computer supports it. Depending on your device's performance, you don't even need a green screen. If you want to use a virtual background, make sure to have a professional one. Don’t choose a random picture, but rather, use either your company logo or a clean professional one.
If you don't use a virtual background, what else is there to check for? Is your background clean and simple, or noisy and confusing? Can people see a chaotic environment or a professional office? Working from home is fun, but this doesn't mean your bedroom is an office.
In case you don't have a professional background, it's best to leave your camera off. Inform your participants that you'll leave the camera off due to technological reasons. People will understand and accept your reasoning. Keep in mind that without your camera on, your presentation skill needs to be even stronger.
2. The Lighting
Let's assume that you can use your camera. When attending an online presentation, what would you expect from the host? How would you feel, if the host was barely visible because his face was so dark? What if the light is too bright? Lighting is essential to build up trust and a professional image.
If you can't make out the facial expressions or reactions, what's your natural response? You'll trust the person less. Want an example? Think of all the movies you've watched. The character whose face was dark or in the shadows - was it usually the hero or the villain? Humans fear the unknown, so give yourself an advantage and have friendly lighting on your face.
You can get cheap lights online, which allow you to choose different colors. Use warmer colors for more personal meetings and colder to be more professional.
This small investment goes a long way and will increase your credibility and trust.
3. Your Internet Connection
If you’re thinking “Duh! Of course!”, you're not alone. An online meeting without an Internet connection doesn't make sense. Yet, it can happen to the best of us, where a modem can break down. Or your connection could have jitter. How can that happen?
Especially now that so many people are online at the same time, Internet lines reach their limit. Sending towers can't take new connections, and landlines also experience higher usage. All people in a particular cell tower area or landline knot share the volume of users. Because of this increased sharing, it gets slower as more people use it at the same time.
Every device counts, and some downloads get priority. A more significant download, for example, might get priority over a small one. If your children download or stream a game, your Zoom meeting might face interruptions.
So make sure to run a speed test before the time of your meeting. Your ping should be as low as possible (below 50 ms), and your recommended download speed is above 1.5Mbit/s. The more people attending the meeting with video, the higher the download rate will need to be.
Your upload speed should have at least 1.5 Mbit/s as well to make sure your connection is stable. Please note this is the minimum recommended speed. We recommend exceeding that value by at least ten times. Why? Because the recommended amounts assume that you're the only user in the house with only one device at regular (non-peak) times.
It’s better to over-prepare and be safe than risk interruptions. Imagine being the host and getting kicked out of the meeting every few minutes. How seriously would people take your message?
Good sound is even more crucial than good lighting. If people can't hear you, the best lighting is useless. How do you know if your sound is excellent? Test it with a friend, or record a meeting with only you in it and listen to it. Is your sound clear and crisp, or metallic and unclear?
Take note of your environment: Is it quiet or noisy? It pays off to invest in a headset that can cancel surrounding noises and transmit your voice clearly.
Make sure that your headset is fully charged (if it's a Bluetooth headset) or the cable is intact. We recommend not hosting a meeting if you don't have a good external microphone. Sometimes, the environment might add some echo or reverberation. Depending on your device's microphone, this might severely reduce your sound quality.
5. Check Your Desktop
In case you need to share your screen, check your desktop. It can always happen, that with a misclick, Zoom shares everything on it. If you want to avoid an embarrassing situation, make sure to close down all unneeded software.
Also, make sure to close down all unneeded tabs on your browser. Open up everything you need beforehand and organize. If you have everything ready in an order you can follow, you won't waste your attendees' time. It can kill the flow of an excellent presentation if you need to wait for programs to open or waste time looking for the right window.
6. Have a Waiting Room
In your Zoom settings, you can choose to have a waiting room. This feature you to have only attendees that you or a co-host allow into the meeting. This avoids someone randomly joining in too early. Imagine you are talking about confidential details with your executive team, and an employee pops in. They wanted to be on time and early, but now they may be listening to sensitive information without your permission.
By having a waiting room, you decide when to start the presentation or meeting, who gets to join the meeting, and when they can join the meeting. This way, you maintain control and can avoid unpleasant situations.
7. Send the Zoom Invitation Out Ahead of Time
By now, you're probably wondering why there is so much to keep in mind. There is a lot to know about how to start a Zoom meeting. You could be thinking to yourself that this isn't all necessary, and you're right. You don't have to do all this. But if you do, you'll gain a tactical advantage. Most people are not willing to put in that effort, and it shows.
Many businesses that have recently switched to Zoom don't know how to start a Zoom meeting properly, which becomes very obvious very quickly. If, however, you prepare, you can demonstrate leadership by example, showing people your professionalism.
One of those signs of professionalism includes sending out the Zoom link ahead of time. Many people don't see it in the calendar invitation. Also, Zoom recently had an update, which requires you to have a password. So be sure to send the password to your participants, too, so you can avoid a wave of emails and calls requesting it.
If you want to save yourself some time, copy the invitation as it includes the password as part of the link. This way, you can make sure everyone joins on time, and you don't lose the energy in the room waiting for the rest of the attendees to show up. You also won't have to interrupt every other sentence to let people into the room.
What else can you do? Test your link ahead of time. Does it work or not? You want to leave nothing to chance, so test every chain link for weak spots.
8. Have a Co-Host
Sometimes, it's unavoidable that people join late or drop out of the meeting during your presentation. They might have Internet issues, or another meeting might run over. During your presentation, you want to keep moving, don't you?
So at the beginning of the call, assign a co-host who can admit attendees into the meeting, so you don't have to. It's good to choose someone who either belongs to your team, or is someone who can take care of this task without missing too much.
9. Test Your Video First
If you ask people how to start a Zoom meeting, most people think of people popping in with video first. It's the first "official" part of the conference - when people see you. How do you want them to perceive you? There is no second chance for a first impression. This proverb also holds true for online meetings.
Open the room about ten minutes before the official start, and test your background. Is it interfering with your video? How far and fast can you move while still having smooth video quality?
How is your screen sharing working? Any issues there?
Your video quality and general visual presentation greatly influence your expert positioning. Is your clothing creating noise in the video? Remember, some fabrics confuse cameras, like small squares or specific line patterns. How far can people see you? Is your head cut off?
A good visual ratio is if you're visible from slightly above your hips or at least from your chest to your head.
After all of your preparation efforts to make the meeting a success, it's time to begin. All of your attendees have joined and are ready to go. How do you start the meeting in a way that engages and impresses them?
1. Start with the Right Energy
Imagine that you're attending a speech, and the speaker comes out walking slowly. Looking tired, he mumbles his greetings and looks almost sad - how would you feel?
Or, how would you feel if the speaker jumps on stage, runs around and shouts, and talks fast? Probably just as weird, right?
That's why you want to have good, high energy, but not too much. Speak clearly and convey with your voice that your attendees are welcome. Make them feel at home and create a personal connection with your presence.
2. Cover the Ground Rules
Not everyone is proficient with online meeting tools. That's why it's essential to educate your attendees. They could be joining from anywhere, so make sure to warn them they should not be driving during the meeting.
If you are recording the meeting, let them know and ask for their permission to do so.
If everyone can participate in the conversation, ask your attendees to mute themselves whenever they're not talking to avoid distracting background noises and unintentional vocalizations. Muted microphones are especially crucial if you intend to reuse the meeting as a webinar.
The same goes for video. If someone doesn't have a great background (or is not dressed well, which can happen) - let them turn off their camera.
Inform them how to ask questions, how to use the chat and how to engage with you. Will there be a Q&A, or can they just ask questions whenever they want?
Of course, if you know that your attendees are well-versed with Zoom, you can skip a few of those steps. Just make sure to cover the safety measures, and you're good to go.
3. Set the Agenda
As with any meeting or presentation, Zoom meetings need an agenda. What will you cover? What will the duration of the meeting be and what can people expect at the end? Stick to your schedule, but also be flexible enough to respond to particular issues some attendees might have, if possible.
If you followed all of the above steps until now, you're already on an excellent path to impress people with your professionalism. You can secure a smooth start and also welcome people properly.
But there are a few pitfalls you'll want to avoid so that your preparation won't have been in vain. Pay attention, because these pitfalls can cost you all of the credibility and connection that you have built up so far.
“Ladies and Gentlemen!” Any presentation is about creating a personal connection with your audience. No matter how many people attend - each individual should feel like you are speaking only to him or her. Imagine meeting someone in a one-on-one situation. Would you say: “Hello, ladies and gentlemen?”
The same goes for: “Hello everybody!” One person is not everybody.
With such sentences, you immediately create a distance between you and your attendees, and people may not be as engaged. Note that this is almost entirely subconscious. If you want to know how to start a Zoom meeting the best way, take every edge you can get. Speaking as if you're addressing a single individual is one of them.
Many speakers who have a static microphone, online or not, feel the need to stay in front of it. This can lead to them not moving their body freely, and it creates a "black box", so-called because it's as if the speaker is being restrained by an invisible box unable to move around.
Body language is vital for communication. In fact, it's about 70% of it. If you have a wireless headset, you can use gestures, walk around and express yourself more.
Your message will be more impactful if you can express yourself fully: With your body, voice, and words.
Now you might say: what does this have to do with how to start a Zoom meeting? Well, the answer is... everything.
Your tonality and voice make up about 25% of your communication. If you don't have a camera, it's even more critical. Imagine your voice being like the score of a movie.
Now imagine watching an epic blockbuster; it's the most intense scene of the movie... but instead of epic music, you hear comedic music from a sitcom intro. Wouldn't the tension suddenly fall flat?
Now you may have seen the climactic scene, but the music changed your perception of it. That's exactly how your voice works. You could be saying the most profound things, but if you sound weak, your message will be weak, as well.
A perfect way to sound more powerful and authoritative is to speak from your diaphragm. If you breathe in your belly and speak from there, your voice makes a different sound. You can do this by letting your stomach expand as you inhale, and contract as you speak, but this will take practice. Most people don't know how to do this and instead speak from their throat. This doesn't only sound weaker but also gets your throat sore faster.
If need be, get a voice coach to teach you how to speak with conviction.
Now that you know how to start a Zoom meeting, what’s next?
There is a simple way to make every meeting or presentation more successful: Become a more effective communicator. Even if you are shy by nature or more of an introvert, you're in luck.
Communication is a learnable skill. How do we know? Dan Lok was shy, introverted and couldn't speak a word of English when he came to Canada. Today, he is talking to millions in English, inspiring people all around the world.
You might feel insecure or unsure about speaking in public right now... but what if you could? What if you could speak so confidently that people hung on your words for hours? Maybe this sounds far away yet, for now...
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Maybe you would get that promotion. Perhaps you could convince that investor to give you money.
Dan never thought that he could become a public speaker, yet today, thousands of people write to him who've heard what he has to say. He gets thank you letters every month. What if you could have that impact, too? Not immediately, but slowly, gradually?
That's why Dan created an all-inclusive collection to help you become the best possible communicator you can be. It's called the Rainmaker Collection and will teach you what you need to know to rock every meeting or presentation, offline or online. This is for you if you:
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