April 28, 2020

Lauren Clemett

Just because Zoom is easy to use with a simple ‘click and go’ interface, doesn’t mean everyone does it well.

Even with a basic understanding of the technology, and a history of running meetings or events, because it’s an online platform, it’s far more likely you will turn your Zoom room into a snorefest.


The thing is, when you hold an online event with Zoom (or any other platform), there are just far too many distractions

Sally can’t unmute, Daves late again, Susan just spilled her coffee and any minute now you just know someone is going to pop their head round the door, the phone is going to ring and before you know it no-one is paying attention to anything.

You’ve lost your audience.

There are some fun and simple ways to run meetings online, while making sure you are engaging and increasing the stay rate.

When you hold an online event with Zoom (or any other platform), there are just far too many distractions. You need to control the room.

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Take Control of The Room

The first tip is to ensure everyone is clear on how to behave and setting some house rules to ensure the experience in your meeting is an enjoyable one.

You can change the settings in Zoom so that guests are already muted on entry, but the very fact that Zoom has made it easy to use means you can suddenly have blasts of other conversations, kids screaming or phones ringing to interrupt your event.

We already know the stories of people taking their laptop or phone to the bathroom with them, trying to cook dinner or shouting at the kids while you are trying to manage a meeting.

Starting your meeting by screen-sharing some house rules is a great way to ensure everyone knows what is expected.

If you want to use this slide in your next online meeting, DOWNLOAD IT HERE.

Start your online meeting by displaying the ground rules on a slide.

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Upbeat Atmosphere

One of the most boring things you can do is tell everyone “we’re just waiting for everyone to get on the call’. Zzzzzzz….you’ve already lost me.

Instead of trying to make polite conversation, asking how everyone is or allowing chit-chat where you loose control of the conversation, why not play some music?

Avoid elevator music or heavy metal, choose something upbeat and energising.
Simply play something off your laptop (Spotify and YouTube have awesome playlists).

Be wary that if you are recording the event and wish to have a replay online, you will need to own the music rights, or the recording may be partially muted or challenged for copyright reasons.

One of the most boring things you can do is tell everyone “we’re just waiting for everyone to get on the call’. Zzzzzzz….you’ve already lost me.

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Stand Up

Yep that’s right, you need to present with confidence and use your best voice.

This is an old tip sales people often share, they suggest standing up while talking on the phone if you are selling to someone. It raises your own energy levels, helps you breathe properly and ensures you get through the meeting on time - we’ve all heard about stand-up meetings and how beneficial they can be.

You may need a stand up desk or adapter to raise your computer up to eye level, but its pretty easy to get into an upright position, even if you have to build something yourself.

Make sure it’s safe and steady, the last thing you want to do is a humpty-dumpty impersonation.

Stand up for the entire event, if you need to take a break while someone else is talking, just turn your video off and relax for a bit.

Sound And Vision

There is nothing worse for a zoom meeting than not being able to see or hear the speaker properly. It's a total turn off and people will tune out fast.

When it comes to vision, obviously never present with a window behind you, but even in an office you should either face the window or get a desk lamp to brighten your face. Never hand hold your camera or have your laptop on your knee, unless you want everyone getting seasick.

Why not up the ante and really set the scene for your meeting? Zoom has the ability for you to add a virtual background, without even needing a green screen. Static or even video images can play in the background,. I recently did an entire day of zoom calls while standing on the beach in Hawaii.

Go into your Zoom settings and have a play with this. Remember, try not to be too distracting, but you can go with seasonal themes and even branded backgrounds.

For sound, ensure you have good headphones or a mic - We love the Yeti mic and it’s awesome (you can set it to focus specifically on your voice and block out the room noise). I find having headphones on is distracting, especially if you are running an online event, so go get a good microphone instead.

You can also install a cool app called Krisp that blocks out background noise for you. It’s free for up to 120 minutes per week of use.

Check your bandwidth before you go live, there’s nothing…than…hopeless….blimmin…connection…so….annoying… to begin boring people in your meeting.

Turn off any backups (like dropbox) apps working in  he background, close programs you are not using, shut down excess browser windows. Or even better do a total shutdown and restart of your computer 30 minutes before you are due to go live, then check everything is working ok.

There is nothing worse for a zoom meeting than not being able to see or hear the speaker properly. It's a total turn off and people will tune out fast.

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Let's Chat

The Zoom room has an awesome interactive tool called Chat.

It’s a really easy way engage your audience and meeting guests, and a superb way to manage questions and avoid interruptions.

At the beginning of the meeting, bring the chat to their attention, tell them how to use it, post a welcome message and encourage them ask questions there to avoid interrupting others.

The best part is, if you want your audience to get the notes or links that have been posted in the chat, at the end of the call, you can instruct them to save the chat by clicking on the dots at the bottom of the chat and selecting save chat.

This gives them a text document to review.

Break The Ice

Instead of the same old boring welcome and housekeeping, make your next Zoom meeting less boring by getting to know your audience and have some fun. 

Here are some icebreakers you can use to be a less boring zoom meeting host:

  1. 1
    Have everyone to type into the chat where they are from or how they are doing.
    This encourages interaction and gets them use to using the chat to communicate.
  2. 2
    Ask guests to pop into the chat box what their favourite dessert is - ask them to be specific, not just pie, is it pumpkin pie, apple pie, blueberry pie and cream? Then refer to them throughout the entire meeting by their dessert name. 
  3. 3
    You could do the same with favourite animal, superhero or ice-cream flavour and make the rule that if someone has already chosen one in the chat, you must choose something else.
  4. 4
    For more adult meetings ask attendees to share what colour underwear they have on?
  5. 5
    Like news-presenters, when on a zoom call, we might be all business up top, with track pants on and slippers…so get your audience to show off their entire outfit?
  6. 6
    Invite guests to bring their favourite mug and show during the meeting, or simply ask them what are you drinking? Show us your teacup, coffee mug, wine glass…
  7. 7
    Tell us your Star Wars name - the first syllable of your name and the model of car you drive is your character and the last medicine you took is the planet you are from… I’m Lar M3 from the planet Aspirin.
  8. 8
    Try not to smile - everyone must hold a straight face while you tell really bad jokes. The first one to laugh loses.
  9. 9
    Have a coffee catch up or Friday night drinks with your team mates or clients. No set theme, just building a community and getting to know each other better.
  10. 10
    Take turns at sharing something you're really proud of, a hobby or a goal you've set for yourself. Not only is in interactive and fun, you are really getting to know your audience.

The most important thing about ice-breakers, especially in an online meeting, is to use them to captivate your audience, then quickly move on to the meeting contents, or use them to break up large sections of content or provide 'relief breaks'.

Humans have very short attention spans, you need to grab their attention to keep them engaged.

Now For Something Completely Different

How about having fun with your team or tribe on Zoom that is fun, interactive and can cement some of the information from the events or meetings you’ve been holding?

Kahoot is an awesome platform that enables you too hold live games and quizzes, like trivia, online.

You can make up the questions to be fun but also testing their knowledge on your topic or cementing in the learnings or messages.

Check it out, create your own game and really have fun in a zoom call.

So there you have it, take away the ideas you like, download the welcome slide and have fun next time you hold a Zoom meeting, webinar, or  online event.

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Lauren Clemett

Lauren is an International Award-Winning Personal Branding Specialist with over 30 years experience in brand management working within world-leading advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy and Clemenger BBDO. A five-time bestselling author and International Award Winning Neurobranding expert, she uses her dyslexia disability as her greatest asset - helping entrepreneurs understand how the brain sees brands.

She is also a keen sailor, golfer and vodka quality control expert.

annette densham

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