Tips for Students and Grad Professionals
What’s wrong with this picture? At face value you may say “nothing”. However, when assessing this scene for a college or professional web meeting it’s a different story. Her attire is inappropriate. She does not look to be prepared with materials for reference or notes. Her setting is too casual and inappropriate for a professional call. Her posture conveys lack of self-confidence and respect for the audience.
Web applications are utilized extensively these days. There are many different platforms including Zoom, Facetime, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom and Skype. No matter what the application, the picture you portray when interacting is worth a thousand words.
For optimized Zoom etiquette, it’s suggested to have a professional conversation via a computer or cell phone—set on a table or desk for stability.
Walking around with a cell phone involves too much motion and can be distracting for you and other participants.
1. Consider this call or meeting the same as an in-person interaction.
Participating from a home-base can make one feel more relaxed so be cautious to not let your guard down too much. Conveying the impression of a mature, organized and well-groomed person is paramount, no matter what the conversation specifics.
Become familiar with the platform tools used during a call. Maybe hold a practice call with a friend or family member so you can practice or work out any issues. Web conference tools often employ the use of the “raise hand” and “chat” functions during a group call. The call leader typically announces the preferred use of these at the beginning of the call. Zoom etiquette guidelines urge participants to keep their microphone on mute to avoid background noise disruption. Be sure you know how to unmute yourself and contribute when requested.
3. Letting down barriers is inadvisable.
Most leaders on Zoom calls will announce if/when they are recording the call but can record at any time. Be aware that you might be recorded without your knowledge or approval.
4. Remember that comments entered in “chat” function are public and archived.
This function can be enabled or disabled by the call leader. Always keep comments concise. How you express yourself with words influences how you are perceived. Profanity or inappropriate language is never acceptable.
5. Dress appropriately.
This includes all clothing that will be seen in view of the
conversation. It is not recommended to wear baseball hats, logo t-shirts or sweatshirts and a suit coat and tie is unnecessary. If you are a prospective college student speaking with admissions, alumni, or faculty you should not wear logo clothing of a competing college or program. Zoom etiquette would include checking yourself in a mirror or the computer lens before a call. Clothing that is distracting or showing too much skin is inappropriate.
6. Make sure your surroundings are quiet.
Notify others in your home of the call and request they respect your space and need for quiet and uninterrupted time. Mute cell phones and shut down distracting applications on computers during the call.
7. Consider backlighting, room surroundings, window glare.
Light coming from behind you on a call casts a darkened image and makes it hard to see you. If you need to light your space, be sure the light is coming from the front of your face. Taking a lamp shade off a desk lamp or facing a window can help to cast appropriate light on you and the space.
8. Use headset or external microphone for best quality.
There is nothing more distracting than muffled voices or reverberation in a room. Test your computer audio prior to the call to ensure you can be heard clearly. Using a quality headset will help to ensure your voice is clear and will improve your ability to hear others on the call.
9. Sit for the duration of the call at a table or desk.
Laying or sitting on a bed is fine if you are chatting casually with friends but it is not an appropriate setting for a school or business video call. The most suitable Zoom etiquette would be to sit and focus your attention on the current call task. It is distracting and disrespectful to walk around a room during a call. Just as you would not walk around during an in-person interaction, show respect to those you are speaking with and give them your undivided attention.
10. Paper/pencil or tablet to take notes.
Taking notes or referring to notes during a call is perfectly acceptable. Allow yourself time to prepare these materials before the call begins.
11. Don’t eat food during the call.
Plan to eat before a call or after but not during. It goes without saying that it is distracting (and gross) to watch someone eat. Furthermore, you are not able to take notes and participate on a call when distracted by eating. Having a drink handy so you can take sips during a call is acceptable.
12. Look directly at the camera eye.
Prior to the call, situate your Zoom application window so that your attention will be focused in the center top of the computer screen or phone. This enables you to seemingly speak directly to others just as you would in an in-person conversation.
13. Good posture.
No slouching, leaning, or laying down. Raising the computer screen to eye level or slightly above is the optimum angle and is most flattering to your face and body angles. Prioritizing Zoom etiquette skills enables you to concentrate on subtle areas such as how you convey yourself through non-verbals. Sitting-up straight says you are interested in what the other person is saying and shows you value the conversation.
If your web interaction is an interview, remember to follow-up with a thank you note. Sending a note (handwritten or email) within 48 hours of the interview conclusion is always appreciated, and demonstrates savvy and honed Zoom etiquette skills. During a conversation or directly after, make sure to note any promised follow-up in your calendar and execute in a timely fashion.
Valle Educational Consultants (VEC) is a Chicago-based college admissions advisory practice. Specialists in the college admissions process, we guide and empower families and their students based on each unique situation.