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How I Use Zoom: 17 Productivity Tips

In the past few months, I’ve used Zoom for pretty much everything, including daily meditations, client meetings, team stand-ups, dance parties, improv, family gatherings, dates, birthday parties, yoga, kirtans, webinars, conferences and more.

All of this adds up to over 500 hours on Zoom in the past 10 weeks alone. While I have experienced major Zoom fatigue at times, there are intentional practices that have helped me stay productive and present.

As we say in improv, “you build the house one brick at a time”, which here means that every little change, regardless of small it may seem, contributes to the overall experience you have.

Here are a few ways that I use Zoom:

  1. Hide self-view is a must, can focus better if I am not staring at myself

  2. Rename myself to a clean screen name, “Kunal” keeps it personal and private, relevant for conferences and bigger gatherings

  3. Gallery view is a must, need to see everyone, so much information on who’s paying attention and when I may be losing people

  4. Mute myself on large calls, above 5 people, and use the ‘Spacebar’ shortcut to Mute/Unmute

  5. Video on by default, especially in a business context, effective way to establish trust

  6. Look at the camera from time to time, versus only the screen, helps establish connection

  7. Private chat messages are the most effective way to get someone’s attention in real-time

  8. Keyboard shortcuts are worth learning, command+shift+s for screen-share

  9. Emojis are fun to add to my screen name, command+control+spacebar on Mac

  10. Google Calendar browser extension is great, makes it fast to add Zoom to new meetings

  11. Google Calendar integration with Zoom is also great, makes it easy to find meeting links

  12. Desktop over phone for sure, quality and perception suffers when joining from the phone

  13. Notifications off on all my devices by default, it so obvious on Zoom now when someone is distracted by a notification or ping on their screen or phone

  14. Virtual backgrounds can be fun and are a much better conversation starter in business meetings than pandemic chatter

  15. Audio only calls with friends, where we have video on for a few minutes to see each other, and then both go video off for the rest of our call

  16. Share sound versus screen from time-to-time lightens up the mood

  17. Beauty filter, yes, also called “touch up my appearance”

The best way to learn how to do some of the above is to literally Google it, e.g. “how to hide self-view on Zoom”, and you will be able to find simple instructions.

As I shared with my mom at the start of lockdown, “have patience, with practice and time, you will learn to be comfortable with Zoom”. Practice and presence has helped me feel in more control when using technology. And for better or worse, video calls are here to stay for a long time and it is worth the investment of your time to learn how to be good at doing them.

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