Coffee and Tablet
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Mute. That’s obviously a huge one when it comes to video chat. That will be the number one thing to learn if you’re doing more and more video chat or even phone calls when you’re mostly doing the listening.

If it’s a one-on-one situation, mute isn’t as important unless you’re the one doing most of the listening while the other person is doing the talking.

But beyond mute there are some other items to concern yourself with when it comes to Zoom or Google Meet or whatever video chat or conferencing app you’re using.

1. Remove Distraction

It’s nice to have a pretty background. Maybe it’s a bookshelf with all your favorite books and mementos and things like that. Maybe it’s a skyline for what you see out your window when you’re working.

It can be distracting to those interacting with you. It can be beautiful and wonderful, but that’s the distracting part of it. I’ve caught myself kind of daydreaming while looking at a background instead of listening intently to the person and what they’re trying to communicate.

Phones and other devices can also be distracting. I like to put my phone on another desk or table or to hide it in a way when I’m talking on the laptop. We get so used to glancing at notifications and things like that on our phone or even just grabbing it without thinking about it.

That makes the other person feel unimportant. They can see your little glances down to the table to check your phone.

2. Prepare for Small Talk

Small talk has never been easy for me. And today when I’m doing work video calls I occasionally run into someone that wants to get right down to business. But usually there is some small talk. So I’ve learned that it’s easier to prepare for those common small talk questions.

I tend to look out the window before calls to see what the weather is like. I think about “how I’m doing” before getting on a call because that usually comes up. I think of a little story or two that happened to me recently that I can maybe share with others.

Nothing too crazy. Just a little thought to make for better small talk, which I do admit leads to better relationships.

3. Avoid Interruption

This has two parts that I can think of. One, try to avoid interruption from your surroundings. That’s been a challenge for me with a toddler running around the house. You can hear her from just about anywhere in the house at all times. So I try to eliminate that as much as possible so I’m not looking away from the screen when chatting.

And you also want to avoid interrupting the other person(s) that you’re speaking with too often. If they’re kind of rambling and filling voids then it can be good to interrupt. But try to let them finish their thoughts.

4. Get To The Point

I catch myself getting a little verbose with things in video chats. I’ll be telling a little story and the other person will kind of cut me off and get the conversation back on track. It’s better to keep things brief as long as you’re giving the person what they need in the conversation.

This is kind of true for any situation in life. Get to the point and move on.

5. Aim for Curiosity

Curiosity is good in Zoom calls or in really any situation. Instead of waiting for your time to speak or ask a question or whatever, listen with curiosity. Try to learn from what others are saying and asking. It’s really an opportunity to listen and learn in a unique setting.


Zoom is here to stay. It’s a good enough service when it comes to business communication. Does it entirely beat face-to-face interaction? I don’t think so. But with the cost of flying or driving and lodging and things like that, it can work for some things in some situations. At least more than we were used to 10 or so years ago.

So it’s good to build your Zoom skills. You want to get the most out of the interactions.

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