5 Ways to Get More Out of Zoom

Months into the pandemic, a surprising number of workers are missing out on ways to make the technology work best for them.

The faces in the thumbnail boxes could hardly be seen. But they could be heard, mainly because many of them forgot to mute their microphones before joining the meeting. That sent the chat function ablaze, and the rapid-fire messaging made it hard to follow the speaker. In short, it was chaos.

For many workers, Zoom is becoming exhausting. A Google search for “Zoom fatigue” returns more than 27 million results. Leaders are taking notice: after stuffing employees’ calendars with video meeting after video meeting when remote work began, managers are now building quiet time into daily schedules and blocking off entire days where no virtual video meetings are allowed to take place.

To be sure, over the last seven months, experts have watched how people use Zoom and refined their initial approach to make the experience better. But even basic steps and shortcuts get missed, and the toll on a career over time can grow. “Using Zoom is no longer novel,” says Ilene Gochman, a Korn Ferry senior client partner. “Now that people are up to speed, they need to figure out how to use it better.” Some shortcuts and hacks that experts suggest include:

Display Names

Most of the time this feature isn’t used because meetings are between colleagues or teams where everyone already knows each other. But turning on display names can increase interaction and participation between clients involved in an intimate roundtable discussion, for instance, says Janet Feldman, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s CEO Succession practice. To do this from the Zoom app, go to “Settings” then “Video” and activate “Always display participant name on their videos.”

Waiting Room

Zoom automatically defaults to this setting, which requires the host to admit each attendee into the meeting individually. Turning it off allows attendees to immediately join the meeting, which saves time for large group meetings and reduces messaging from late joiners asking to be let in during the call. To do this, go to “Settings,” click on “View More Settings,” and under “Security” activate “Waiting Room.”

Mute Everyone at Once

Instead of relying on people to mute themselves, meeting hosts may use a feature that mutes everyone at once. This feature is especially useful for town halls, webinars, and other large group presentations. It also saves the moderator from having to remind people throughout the call to mute themselves, which can become a major distraction for both the presenter and the attendees.

Turn Off Video

It may sound counterintuitive considering that Zoom is a video platform, but mandating the use of video has moved from a source of comfort for remote workers to a source of stress. “Leaders are beginning to understand that people can’t keep their Zoom face up all day and that video is not always transparent,” says Gochman. She adds that unless it is a one-on-one or small group meeting where intimacy needs to be established, video is likely not necessary.

Touch Up My Appearance

Not everyone loves how they look on camera. Thankfully, Zoom has a feature for that. The touch-up function works as a sort of Instagram filter, automatically adjusting light, color, and other settings to enhance your facial features. To do this, go to “Settings” then “Video” and toggle on “Touch up my appearance.”

Despite these features, one challenge still yet to be solved is translating energy to the screen, says Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry’s global solutions leader for leadership development. He’s seen too many video meetings with leaders who fail to connect on-screen, coming across as if they are reading a press release or reporting financial results. “The job of a leader is to bring optimism and energy because they have to assume on a video call no one else will,” says Baltzley. “Figuring out how to project that through a screen is becoming a real point of focus.”