5 mistakes you make on Zoom calls that are sabotaging your success

Now that we’ve all pretty much adjusted to the “new normal,” Zoom calls have become less of a temporary solution and more of a permanent fixture in many workplaces. And while Zoom may seem pretty straightforward, it’s important to start taking these video calls seriously, if you want to keep moving your career forward.

Here are 6 common mistakes you might be making on Zoom to sabotage your success and how to fix them.

1. Thinking every conversation needs to be a Zoom call

Think back to your days working in the office — did you take time out of your workday to schedule a meeting for every single discussion or question that came up? If you did, you surely found that you didn’t have enough hours left in the day to get your regular work done.

Zoom is a great communication tool, especially if you’re working from home — but it should be used sparingly. Save it for important meetings or training sessions. A lot of quick meetings can be had over a simple phone call. Or, if it’s just a quick question that needs to be answered, you may even be able to resolve it over email or a messaging platform, such as Slack.

“People are going through a lot these days. The stresses are too numerous to mention. Realize that making someone do a video call is, oftentimes, way more stressful than just hopping on a phone call,” Lena Herstein, founder and CEO of ManageCamp said. “On a phone call, it is enough to be smart, informed, and engaged. On a video call, you have to also LOOK smart, informed, and engaged! That is WAY harder.”

Using Zoom only when necessary will free up time and focus in everyone’s day to attend to their regular tasks and move projects along with more quickly. Your team members are able to be more productive when they don’t have to take extra time out of their day to prepare for a meeting that could have been a phone call.

2. Not muting yourself

This one is especially important if you are in a meeting with lots of people. It can be very distracting for the person who’s presenting when they hear every cough, rustling of papers, or child in the background of everyone’s homes. Therefore, the only person who should have their microphone turned on is the one who’s talking.

“Given how many of us are working at home with others (dogs, cats, kids, loud significant others) it’s likely best if you aren’t talking just to mute so you don’t accidentally have something you’d rather not share broadly go out live over the internet,” Media Style said.

That being said, the leader shouldn’t be the only one doing all the talking during a meeting and should give other participants an opportunity to share and give input. Just keep your mic turned off until it’s your turn to speak or you have a question.

3. Not taking video meetings seriously

When you are attending a meeting in person, you give the person who is leading or presenting your full attention. It would be rude to be on your phone or work on something else when you are supposed to be focused. The same should apply to video calls.

It can be tempting to multitask while on a Zoom call because you are in the comfort of your own home and think no one can see you — but make no mistake when your camera is on, your lack of attention is more obvious than you think.

“People know right away when you are not looking at the camera,” Herstein said.

You should also make sure you look presentable, so your team knows you are taking this seriously. Basically, respect all the same codes of conduct that you would in the office — Zoom may be happening in your home, but it’s the closest you will get to your normal interactions in the workplace.

Herstein added, however, that if you are truly struggling to pay attention, that may be indicative of a larger issue.

“If it truly is a meeting in which you have no interest and you have other things you need to be doing, though, then it is probably time to question why you should be in attendance in the first place,” she said.

4. Not turning your camera on

It may be tempting to turn your camera off during a Zoom meeting, especially if there are a lot of people present and you want the freedom to work on other things. However, this could be a huge mistake.

Really, there are very few circumstances when it is appropriate for your camera to be turned off.

The purpose of hosting a meeting via Zoom is to provide a sense of normalcy and community with your teammates, partners, clients or whoever. Turning off your camera in these settings could come across as unprofessional or disinterested.

You should also make sure that, when your camera is on, you look professional, your camera is clean, and you are in a place with decent lighting so your teammates can see you properly.

5. Sharing more than just your screen

This innocent mistake could result in some very embarrassing situations.

Sharing your screen is common practice in a Zoom meeting, especially if you are leading the meeting or presenting something with the group. However, it is crucial to prepare for this ahead of time, so that you only share what you intend to.

Make sure you turn off all notifications. The last thing you want while sharing your screen is to get a message from a coworker or friend that might not be appropriate or something you want the whole team to see. You also don’t want to receive any notifications for emails, social media or the like. It’s important for your team to be able to focus on what you’re presenting to them and not on your personal life.

You should also double-check anything that’s visible on your desktop and any tabs that you have open. Close anything that may not work appropriate and remove any unnecessary files from view, so that you can be sure to keep things as professional as possible.