by Dan Sodergren, FLOCK

A few months back if you asked for a zoom – you might have been asking for nostalgic UK ice lolly. Rather than to connect on a video conferencing software that is taking over the world. But in these new times of working from home as the norm rather than the exception. Zoom has taken on a whole new meaning. Zoom is like Hoover. As vacuuming is to video conferencing.

Zoom is zooming.

And like many pieces of technology that now look like the “future” or the new norm. ZOOM is not an “overnight sensation” it was formed in 2011.  It is the new situation that has propelled it into the spotlight of creative consciousness.

We are all doing digital transformation because we HAVE to. Not because we wanted to. AS for years I have been asking people for ZOOM meetings rather than face to face to save times (and to cut down on meetings) but the hour-long face to face marketing or pitch meeting is something deeply ingrained in the psyche and team dynamics of many organisations.

But as the Covid-19 virus sweeps across the planet, leading to quarantined cities and shut-down schools, video conferencing has had a rebirth. With Zoom emerging as one of the leading tools to keep businesses up and running and students learning.

Worldwide – the company has seen a 535% rise in daily traffic in the past month. This has skyrocketed it usage and its share price. This increase in worldwide usage – especially through the desktop version has meant that the valuation of ZOOM Video Conferencing is now $38 billon worth….

“More than half of the American airlines net worth COMBINED.”

But some gloom to Zoom.

However, no matter on how great ZOOM is – it has had its detractors from a security POV. And with due call. There are some serious problems you can get when using the platform insecurely.  so be safe KIDS. Want to know how I wrote about that here.

And much of the time the negatives for ZOOM – are based on human error. From not vetting attendees, and using functions like the meeting room prior to an event, to publicising the meeting ID online either through social media or Eventbrite and so getting ZOOM hacked and ZOOM bombed.

You see one thing – ZOOM has taught us (which now knows it needs to up its game because of this) – is that humans with a lot of time on their hands online will either create or look to destroy things…  So how do you make sure that you CREATE something that is a positive team experience for your next ZOOM call. How can you make sure that ZOOM adds value to the team psychology? Here are some key tips.

Top tips for your Zoom and your newly remote team dynamics.

In past blogs I have talked about the new tools to use for remote work. I have also talked about some the new methods you can use to help with team cohesion. But first things first about ZOOM:

“A Zoom meeting IS NOT the same as a normal meeting.”

It’s a show. It’s theatre. It’s a live TV show on steroids. With 10 – 20 – 30 different screens.

This means that the psychology AND the rules of such moments ARE different so read on…. And change three things at least today. I beg you.

So why all these tips on making ZOOM a nicer experience for your team?

One of the MAIN reasons is that most of what we do with communication is unconscious and so we HAVE to be more conscious of what we are doing when on ZOOM.

So here…

  1. Your background.
  • Think about your background. More than you every would. Yes, everyone is checking out your house.
  • Yes, you can change the background to be different and cool. But we know you are not on a spaceship. Because we are not 7. And neither are you.
  • Remember we are adults here. We can use video conferencing for fun too. See later on…
  • Everything is about psychology with technology so… Remember…

  1. Your lighting.
  • This is more important that people think. And it’s 100% in their control.
  • If you use a too bright background then you will be a silhouette. We can’t see you face. One reason why ZOOM is better than a phone call. Is that we see each other’s faces. But if you can’t be seen you lose all that nonverbal communication.
  • On the other hand. If you face is too bright. It will merge out. And hurt people’s eyes. So then change the angle of your camera and where you are sitting.
  • SO think about the metanarrative of your backdrop. Yes plants are nice. So is a nice chilled space. But perhaps a messy bedroom is not. (NOTE TO SELF)
  • On that note – don’t sit too close. Remember that extreme close ups are never flattering. But there is an option – that If you want to photoshop your face you can do.

  1. Your camera angle.
  • As your camera angle makes a difference. As it does in the movies and it does in real life.
  • Elevating yourself – by lowering the camera angle looks odd. As would standing up in a meeting to make a point. It would be a power play and a dick move – most people don’t do it.
  • Your camera angle says A LOT about you. LOTS. And again, you can control is too.
  • A too low camera angle looking up your nose isn’t just unpleasant. It might show you don’t care. Seriously just rest the laptop on some books or a shoebox.
  • If you have to type at the same time. Type of a different machine or buy a camera that you can raise. Or a different keyboard.
  • The main thing is to get your laptop to eye height to the camera – not to the middle of the screen.

  1. Your sound and comms.
  • How you sound makes people react to you differently. So try not to SHOUT. Just like in real life.
  • But the biggest (unlike real life) is ALWAYS HAVE YOUR MUTE ON. We don’t want to hear your background sound. Unless you are going to say something and you can use your space bar to unmute.
  • And again do like real life. When you want to say something. Perhaps raise your hand t- so the host can see – o help the host. Either in real life – which can look odd – or click the icon. Which is why you can do it digitally as well.
  • If you can buy a microphone so you don’t have to invade people’s personal space with an extreme close up to get what you are saying heard. As for clever new heads phones – don’t wear Bluetooth ones. As Domink Zane points out…

“When doing calls from a computer. Do not use bluetooth headphones. Especially not AirPods mics on laptops. As they 16khz and introduce 150-200ms extra latency.”

  • Blue tooth ones. Sound bad and create a delay. Which freaks people out. Another fact that freaks people out is when they realise that EVERYTHING they type in Zoom can be downloaded. So…


And if might even be that the lack of privacy is their downfall. So make sure it’s not yours as well. So… Think about that. You might do things differently when you know this….

What else can we do differently?

It’s again worth thinking about team dynamics and your company culture. So does the host always need to be same person? Does it have to be the boss?

Could a junior person not be the boss of the meeting? Or a head of the department for a meeting? Or different mini Zoom’s with different hosts and a break? If you are the host. Maybe the person who is never talking. Has something to say?

If you are the boss. Is the ZOOM trying to tell you something? Is someone struggling working from home. Do you know your team well enough to make that call? Do they need a personal phone call afterwards?

If you don’t think you could make that call. Have a think what you can do to learn more about personal dynamics and psychology. Be that a team Belbin report (which isn’t cheap) or a Myers Briggs 16 personalities test. Or using FLOCK – which will give you the values of each person. It’s these values and working and learning styles – that right now are becoming more and more important.

Should you ZOOM at all?

And when I say ZOOM – I don’t mean Skype instead. As video conferencing might not be right for everyone. It’s a very visual experience and it psychologically extremely draining. As according to psychologists and technologists video conferencing creates:

“The plausible deniability of each other’s absence. Our minds tricked into the idea of being together when our bodies feel we’re not. Dissonance is exhausting.”

Which is how you can suffer from ZOOM DOOM. As another ZOOM request comes up. Especially when people don’t listen to the above tips. Knowing all this. Maybe all have to think about this before we call an hour-long ZOOM call?

What Zoom teaches us about team dynamics and us.

In these times of a lack of body language and nonverbal ques from others and heck even different energy levels from being WITH people. Many teams will come under stress. Many people will NOT like working from home or remote working. You will have to find out remotely what works for each person.

Some won’t like it due to having personalities that need other people need them. That need interaction and connections. If we don’t know our team members well enough – if we have never asked them to tell us what they value first. Then we are going in blind.

We are using (or overusing) a piece of technology that might make things WORSE. Not knowing what makes your team members tick. And not having the skills needed to work remotely well together will be the difference in this brave new world. As management guru Tom Peters says…

“Soft” skills will be 10X more important in a virtual/work-at-home world. Team dynamics, individual growth, team creativity will dominate effectiveness.”

In the post covid future. Us all being effective. And being more human and humane. Bringing our full selves to work. With #companycultures aligned on shared values. Will make ALL the difference.


A special offer for MPA members of 25 FLOCK values tests for their companycultures that can be do remotely in under 20 minutes.