7 Tips for Making Zoom Meetings Productive

Leading a Zoom or remote online conferencing meeting can be challenging and seem overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. And, many principals don't have experience in doing this because we typically do everything face to face. Many principals are finding themselves leading or on Zoom meetings regularly as part of their leadership duties while school is closed. Zoom can be a powerful tool to build community, communicate, and reinforce a positive school culture.

Here are 7 quick tips to make your next Zoom meeting easy to run, productive, and fun.

1. Establish Norms - Be sure to send out clear norms to your team before even sending out the Zoom meeting invite. These norms may include things such as everyone must mute their mics when coming on, use the raise your hand to ask a question, and asking everyone to select a background where there won't be movement behind them (Such as family members walking around).

2. Mute All Mics - This is key, by muting all microphones you keep out distractions like the barking dog, echoes from feedback, and so much more. This is easy to do and the host can mute and unmute all microphones. A feature that I love is to press the space bar when speaking. This temporarily unmutes your microphone while you are talking and returns it to mute once you let go of the space bar. Share this feature out with your team members.

3. Camera On - Encourage your members to use their camera at least at the beginning. This helps to build connections and community. Plus, it provides for more interaction as we all know body language is just as important as what you say. There's nothing more powerful than seeing someone's smiling face light up a Zoom room. Share how to turn your camera on and off in the event they need to step out of the meeting temporarily or would rather turn it off after the greeting.

4. Record Session - If you are going to record the session, it's important to verbally remind all members that the Zoom session is being recorded. By recording the session, you archive it for anyone that missed the meeting or needs to go back and listen to something again. I also typically archive it to the cloud rather than my own desktop. I'd check with your supervisor or solicitor before recording. I do not recommend recording any meeting where you will be discussing student information or anything regarding students (FERPA).

5. Chat Time - Encourage users to use the chat room feature to post questions, share links, and communicate with one another. This is an excellent tool to use to enhance dialogue and the distribution of web based resources. Once you enter the meeting, this is a great place to post your norms that we discussed in bullet #1.

6. Wait Time/Slow Down - I have found that people, myself included, process things more slowly in online/virtual meetings than they do face to face. I think this may be because of all the distractions of seeing everyone else, only having a small screen to focus on, or you can't pick up body language as much. As a result, slow down when you speak and provide more wait time when asking a question. Also, encourage people to use the chat room for an area to post questions.

7. Have Fun - There's no reason you still can't have a great time on a Zoom session. In a recent Staffulty (Faculty & Staff) meeting I hosted on Zoom, we had one of our teachers lead us in a song by playing his guitar. He asked all 93 of us to join in and sing together. It was a great bonding time and a special way to close out our meeting. Plan for virtual spirit days on Zoom by encouraging crazy hat day, spirit wear day, or messy hair day. We also took a Staffulty picture using the Zoom Gallery feature.

I'd love to hear how you are using Zoom and what tips you have for Principals. Feel free to share a comment or contact me by CLICKING HERE.

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