Best Communication Practices for 2020’s Summer Hires: Best practices for Zoom meetings
by Mary Crane
This summer you will have fewer opportunities than your predecessors had to interact in person with employers and recruiters. Because of social distancing requirements, you’ll need to maximize every Zoom meeting to which you are invited as well as phone calls and emails. To succeed in work-related communications, be prepared to demonstrate your ability to communicate professionally across all platforms.
Video-conferencing technology can help you demonstrate that you are fully engaged in a conversation and build trust. Participate in each work-related Zoom meeting as if you have been invited to a critically important face-to-face interaction.
Carefully choose the location from which you will dial in. Ensure that the background is work appropriate. A plain wall or bookshelf works well. Eliminate distractions—piles of dirty laundry, work-out equipment, leftovers from last night’s dinner delivery—that might keep an employer from focusing on what you say. If you opt to use a virtual background, choose one and retain it throughout the entirety of the meeting. Any light source should be located in front of you, i.e., behind your monitor.
Your personal appearance matters. On most workdays, dress in a relaxed—yet still professional—manner. If you are invited to a court hearing that will be conducted via Zoom, dress as you would if you were to appear in court.
(Read also: Florida Judge Begs Lawyers: Get Dressed for Zoom Hearings.)
To help others feel that you are speaking directly to them, focus on making eye contact. Move your laptop so that the camera is at eye level. Feel free to take notes throughout the course of the meeting, but do not multi-task. Senior lawyers will expect you to be fully present.
To ensure that you are heard, use a good quality headset or your smartphone’s earbuds. Zoom works fine with your computer’s built-in speakers, but a headset will enhance others’ ability to hear you clearly. When you’re not speaking, mute your mike.
Review meeting agendas beforehand. Be prepared to contribute. Ask clarifying questions.
Many employers have created Zoom coffee rooms and social hours. Participate in these events and use them to build relationships. Don’t forget, however, that others will observe what you say and do. When invited to a Zoom social hour, feel free to enjoy a glass of wine or bottle of beer, but limit yourself to one drink and place the wine bottle or six pack out of camera range. And of course, if you prefer not to drink alcohol, participate with your beverage of choice.