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Virtual Etiquette

General Zoom Etiquette and Checklist:

A few things are applicable immediately, few things would take time, money and effort and may not be applicable immediately (but will be applicable in the long run)

  1. Please consider joining using a laptop/computer  (as your primary device).  While phones and iPad do work, they may not be optimal
  2. Download the latest version of Zoom – https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/201362233-Where-Do-I-Download-The-Latest-Version-
  3. Install any updates and reboot your computer/laptop.
  4. Test Zoom and ensure that your mic and camera are working
  5. Pro-tip (for later): Stop any “non-essential” programs from “start-up” at boot time. A lot of programs and services auto-start and boot time and hog your resources. But this is tricky, you need to do your homework before doing this. Do not try this if you (a) have an important meeting coming up and (b) have no spare laptop. 
  6. Please keep your computer’s desktop clean (no sensitive/private information), please hide your browser bookmarks, please clear your browser history. Always assume someone may ask you to share your screen, you would want to avoid accidentally sharing personal/sensitive information  
  7. Close all your other programs and notifications. Always assume others will see what you see in your monitors. Enable “gaming mode” in your Anti-Virus software so that you do not get those annoying notifications
  8. Use multiple screens simultaneously –  https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115000424286-Sharing-Multiple-Screens-Simultaneously
  9. Please keep your video on, Would be nice to put a face to your name
  10. Please ensure you are “front-and-center-lit” and not  “side-lit” and worst of all “backlit” (you are not in a witness protection program)  
  11. Please look here for what not to wear –  https://www.collaborationsuperpowers.com/225-what-to-wear-when-working-remote/ (TL-DR – wear solid colors, try avoiding strips and checked patterns)
  12. Try being on gallery view all the time
  13. If you are using your computer’s inbuilt camera, please keep the gallery view on the screen where you have the camera. That way, you will be almost “looking at” the participants, if you are using a webcam, please position your webcam accordingly.  When you are looking at everyone in your second monitor (in gallery view), and others looking at your side view somehow feels awkward to many. Humans did not evolve for Zoom and we look for visual cues when we are in a group
  14. The best position for your camera (if you have a webcam) is at your face level, looking right at your face. If you do not have a separate webcam, please ensure that your laptop/s camera is at least at your chest level (definitely not on the sofa/tea table), looking up.  What exactly do I mean? – Read the “Do: Find your Angle” section here –  https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/six-embarrassing-stories-of-video-calling-zoom-fails.html  
  15. Wearing glasses? Consider using glasses with “anti-reflective” coating on it.   Glasses without anti-reflective coating create a glare on your face which your camera picks up. They are expensive if you buy in-store, but you can always get them from https://www.zennioptical.com/ (much less expensive).  Another option is to use contacts or not use glasses. 
  16. Ensure that the place you choose does not have a ceiling light or a different light source within the range of your camera. While you may not realize it, a bright light above your head, behind you may be distracting to other participants
  17. Want to crash your boss’ meeting (without explicitly telling him that you are going to do it)? Here are a few tips – (a) join using phone and breath heavily into the mic (b) be at a noisy place – the mics pick up sound differently than how we humans are tuned to pick up voice (c) Don’t use headphones, use speakers and ensure that your speakers are near your mic for maximum “feedback effect” (d) join from multiple devices at the same time, have the speakers unmuted and turn up the volume. You can really amplify the feedback effect using this trick. Want to join my session? Please avoid these. I will kick you out (of the virtual meeting) even if it happens unintentionally. As a facilitator/meeting host, I care more about the experience of the larger group. 
  18. I recommend using a dedicated mic. But if you do not have one, be aware of some of the challenges with the basic mic in your laptop (a) it will also pick up ambient sound (b) it may amplify certain frequencies and dampen others (c) if you sit back, relax and speak (like how  you speak in-person  to your friend in a coffee lounge), your mic will not pick up your voice
  19. Pay attention to your acoustic environment. Your mic may pick what you say, as well as your alter ego – your reverberations  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverberation    (different from “feedback” and echo). Use acoustic dampeners if you have to. 
  20. To virtual background or not: This is the million-dollar Zoom question – I will leave it up to you. Few things for your consideration (a) while zoom-visiting the “picturesque” Hawaii beach or the million-dollar condo with a golf course view background may be cool, please consider using a plain, and simple background image. That way, people will focus on you, and not on your background. And yes, Zoom lets you have a video for your background, please see if you can avoid it for the same reasons above. Please settle on the virtual background before joining the meeting. 
  21. If you choose to not use zoom virtual background, please be aware of what is behind you on the walls and shelf. Take a screenshot of you and your background when you are testing zoom (#4). Make sure what you see will not embarrass you or others. If you want to go pro, consider using a simple behind the chair green screen and then a plain/textured non-obtrusive background
  22. As there are many people who may be joining, please stay muted if you are not talking. I will unmute you if you have a question, or please unmute yourself if you want to talk
  23. PRO-TIP (and even I have had embarrassing moments): Always assume you are hot, tell people around you are on live mic (even when you are muted) for the duration of the session (even though that is not true). Why? You may have accidentally unmuted yourself and/or the host may have accidentally unmuted you. Informing others that you are going to be “live” all the time will save you from embarrassment. Read some of the articles here – https://bit.ly/3amrIPK
  24. Please try to stay put in a location.  When you move around with your camera on, it  may be disorienting to a others
  25. If the meeting starts at say 5:00 PM ET, try joining 5-7 minutes early. If something does not work, you still have time to figure out the details. 

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