Overcoming the Challenges of Zoom
COVID-19 has brought along with it many changes, including nurses’ expanding use of technology to stay connected and to help their patients. Office visits, presentations, group meetings, and other gatherings are now happening on Zoom. As the months go by, we can expect even more usage of technology to substitute for in-person meetings, and it is entirely possible that these will persist even after the threat of the virus is gone.
As we face new frontiers in technology in medicine, let us help one another adjust and maximize our success by sharing ideas. Below are some approaches to making the best of leading or participating in Zoom calls. If you have others, feel free to add them on below.
As we face cancellations, alterations and modifications related to COVID-19, one bright spot has been the ability to use Zoom technology. Many people, of all ages, have been able to download and figure out Zoom on their smartphones, tablets or computers.
While Zoom is fabulous for helping us gather in a virtual room, the process of leading a meeting, or even just participating effectively, can present new challenges.
Leading a Zoom Meeting
STEP 1 Plan Ahead
Schedule your Zoom meeting and send out the meeting ID and password in plenty of time. Plan to double check and send out an extra reminder just before the start time.
STEP 2 Assign Someone to be Backup
When you send out your notice, send out the phone number for someone who can be a back-up tech person especially if it is going to be a large meeting. This can relieve interruptions and make the meeting feel smoother for the other participants.
STEP 3 Set Up
Before the meeting, set up the space where you will do your meeting. It helps not to have too much background clutter or a long view of the whole room. During this COVID-19 crisis, I have been surprised by all the national newscasters who have invited the nation into their dining rooms or living rooms. It’s interesting, but can be distracting! Also, set your computer up on a book or other elevated surface so that the camera is directed right at your face instead of capturing a less flattering shot going up from your chin! Of course, turn off all the background noise, including the television in the other room. It is surprising how much of the background noise gets transmitted through Zoom. Also, consider asking your participants to mute themselves so that accidental sounds don’t distract everyone.
STEP 4 Redundancy in Notifications
When life is more normal, people know what to expect and don’t have to think so much about the details of gathering. When using a new app, most of us need an extra measure of grace and a little more time. We also need frequent reminders via several communication methods—facebook, text and email. The leaders’ proactive approach can help minimize stress.
STEP 5 Consider Your Own Appearance
Whether you are a man or a woman, it is time to spruce up a little! It is considerate to look professional even if you are participating from home.
STEP 6 Greetings
It helps if the host can be present a few minutes before the start time. It is nice to be on hand to greet everyone by name and have each person say something to get started. Having an opportunity to speak initially, even if it is just to say name and job title, can break the ice and help folks participate more as the meeting continues. If you are talking with a patient via Zoom, be aware they may be nervous and unsure. So setting them at ease will make your visit more productive.
STEP 7 Start as Promptly as Possible
People like to know what to expect. Starting on time respects their time and gives everyone a much-needed sense of structure during this time where many of us feel somewhat “off quilter.”
STEP 8 Assign Participants Ahead of Time and Have an Agenda
Assign participants ahead of time and have an agenda- If someone is giving a report or going to be asked to participate in some way, it may be helpful to consider giving them advance warning. Also, asking people to raise their hands if they wish to speak can help the moderator/leader notice them—especially in a meeting that is crowded. Additionally, an agenda is essential to a well-run meeting.
STEP 9 Ask Questions
Leaders may want to plan to ask questions during their presentation to allow those in the meeting to have an opportunity to speak. It is hard to pay attention via zoom—even harder than when meetings are in person—so leaders do well to keep monologues short and to the point.
STEP 10 Close Well
Everyone appreciates a leader who ends on time. Because of our altered circumstances, people can lose track of time and prolong meetings unnecessarily. It helps to have an agenda, stick to it and announce is there are variations, including going over time.
Zoom has recently implemented additional security measures to ensure that “Zoombombing” --people entering your meeting uninvited-- doesn’t happen. It is important to use both the Meeting ID and the password each time. The company that supports Zoom has been very responsive and worked to address problems as they come up. They also send out frequent evaluations so that users can let them know if there are issues.
Patients and groups will respond well if they feel welcomed and heard. As a leader, your preparation time and the energy you put into making things go smoothly matters just as much now —maybe more—than ever.