Zoom has taken the whole world by storm. Thanks to its easy-to-use functionality, and an effort by company leadership to make it more accessible, people of all ages have started to use Zoom for work, learning, and socialization.
Zoom-hosted game nights bring friends together across distance. K-12 and college students have learned how to Zoom to stay on academic track. Corporate teams check in for virtual happy hours, critical business meetings, and essential trainings on Zoom. This virtual platform, like Webex, Adobe Connect, and others, bridges the distance felt by stay-at-home orders and closed offices and classrooms.
Despite the obvious benefits, though, many users stress about the technology. Unfortunate stories of Zoombombing have hit the news, detailing events gone awry thanks to bad behavior by pranksters. A few simple steps can make sure your Zoom (or Webex... or Adobe Connect...or Microsoft Teams...) events unfold without a hitch.
Tip 1: Do your homework.
Zoombombing and live online session privacy concerns are legitimate. Understanding possible risks and how to prevent them from coming to fruition can ease anxiety about making the tech transition. If you have access to your platform's support resources, review them for recommended security settings. Common features include setting meeting passwords and limiting application or file sharing permissions. Even a quick Google search for "How to prevent Zoombombing" reveals some helpful technical guidance you can implement ahead of a program.
Tip 2: Learn how to learn (or work or connect) online.
Many of us have some level of familiarity with online platforms like Zoom, but suddenly having to host meetings or deliver training with them can feel overwhelming. One of our team's tried-and-true recommendations for every new client and cohort involves a virtual classroom introduction. For us, the one-hour Learn How to Learn workshop session ensures learners not only have the correct platform software downloaded before an event, they also get a chance to practice with interaction tools. This same model works well for teams new to collaborating online or hosting virtual meetings - schedule a test session where employees can play with the platform features and ask technical questions during a dedicated event.
Tip 3: Have a disaster recovery plan.
In the virtual classroom, the famous saying "prior proper planning prevents poor performance" most definitely applies. But, even if you send out clear communications to learners, rehearse an event from start to finish, and have a producer on hand, virtual sessions will have hiccups. In fact, due to high demand, established platforms like Zoom and Webex have reported widespread bandwidth issues resulting in session disruptions. We train all of our facilitators and producers how to work through our four-step disaster recovery process in the event of technical difficulty. Following this workflow during a meltdown reinforces the usefulness of the virtual platform while keeping participants calm and informed. It works wonders in retaining attendees beyond a single disrupted event.
Tip 4: Call in the experts.
Nearly anyone can run team meetings on Zoom. But it takes specialized skills to convert face-to-face training programs and deliver them successfully online. Leaders need to identify when to up-skill their internal teams to meet changed expectations and when to bring in seasoned help to manage the transition. With frozen training budgets or a hesitance to spend available funds, this decision seems unrealistic. But the cost of investing in training or outsourcing pales in comparison to the long-term consequences of a poorly executed jump to the virtual classroom.
What trick has helped your organization or team successfully use your virtual platform during these uncertain times? Share your insights in the comments below!