Today was the first time I’ve used the software program Zoom to be part of a meeting.
Given the current state of affairs, my guess is that many people are also using Zoom, or a similar program, for the first time. Zoom can be used for business meetings, teacher/student interactions, or to simply stay in touch with friends and relatives.
Here’s a brief video providing an overview of Zoom:
I found Zoom to be incredibly easy to use, and quite effective. And in many ways, more effective than a physical get together:
- When a person is speaking in a Zoom meeting, that person’s face is front and center, allowing the focus to be completely on that person, minimizing distractions. (at least that’s the way it was with the meeting I attended; there may be other controls in Zoom that show everyone’s face equally, whether they are speaking or not. If so, I like the option that we were using). I’m usually pretty quiet at meetings, but for some reason, I found it easier to speak up during the Zoom meeting. This may be due to the fact that everyone seemed more conscious of making sure that everyone had a chance to say something if they wanted to. Such a dynamic does not seem to be present at most meetings I attend.
- Zoom meetings have the obvious advantage of allowing a person to attend a meeting from anywhere, saving time and travel costs, leading to increased productivity.
- Zoom meetings have the ability to be easily recorded for later viewing, which would be useful for people who could not attend or to simply review and verify what was said during the meeting.
- The people at our meeting also seemed more relaxed, perhaps because they were in comfortable surroundings, in this case, their home. This also made the meeting more personable; at one point, a participant’s dog joined the meeting for a brief moment or two. Such slices of life can help people get to know each other a little bit better than a regular meeting.
- Another feature that I found enjoyable is that you could choose a virtual background to be displayed behind you. Zoom comes with a couple of defaults, such as a beach background that looked very enticing, or you can add your own image. One person selected a picture of her dog as her background. Not only does this once again allow participants to add that personal touch, but it may be handy if you don’t want the other attendees to see how messy the room is that you’re sitting in at the moment.
- One final advantage of using Zoom, and perhaps the most relevant one these days, is that it allows social distancing (yes! I finally got to use that phrase in one of my blog posts!). I would guess that the use of Zoom has exploded in the past week precisely because of this reason. But I think once people recognize how easy and effective such meetings are, it will continue to be a popular tool once this crisis has passed.
So congrats to the developers of Zoom for creating such a useful product, and I wish you continued success. I actually look forward to the next time I can use it…
*image from Newsweek