Finding Zen in your Zooms | Dow Goodfolk, brand strategy, identity, packaging and digital design agency
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Finding Zen in your Zooms

Finding Zen in your Zooms image


April 02 2022

Our Account Director Becs shares the first in a series of key learnings from the last two years, starting with her 5 tips for a successful Zoom meeting with clients.

One silver lining when we were thrust into lockdown two years ago was having a bit of a head start on working with clients remotely. On a personal level, as an ex-pat with family in different time zones, I am very used to communicating via screen. Professionally, having worked with international clients over many years, Dow were fairly early adopters of video conferencing and other tech to allow us to ‘meet’ with clients even if they weren’t in the same room. As a team, this fortunately meant we were able to get ourselves set up remotely very quickly.

 This also meant that we were already acutely aware of the limitations and frustrations that can arise from not being able to share creative ideas and strategic workshops in person. From lagging sound, microphones accidentally switching off, issues with screen sharing or a myriad of other technical inconveniences, it can often devolve into a less than smooth experience. 

 But one of the biggest challenges we have found as a creative agency is not being able to replicate the same kind of energy that you get in a room sharing ideas for the first time all together. The crackle of inspiration and the sparkling eyes of a client as they mentally take the next few moves on the chessboard considering the possibility of how our design could take their brand forward. Trying to create that level of excitement and momentum over Zoom is tricky. 

 Equally, some meetings have to focus on problem solving, interrogating and constructive disagreement. While just as valuable and necessary in the creative process it doesn’t always make for comfortable dialogue as you try to assess if a long silent pause in conversation is appropriate to allow thinking time, or if it has become kind of awkward. You can’t pick up on the body language and read micro (or even macro) signals of clients to help guide productive questioning and keep momentum as easily; and it’s almost impossible if some people are sitting with their camera off or on mute.

 All that being said, video conferencing has allowed us to continue working on awesome projects for two years where access to seeing people in person has been extremely limited. And for that we are extremely grateful. It has also given us an opportunity to test and learn on a toolkit of best practice tips for holding Zoom meetings with clients that keep momentum and pace.

Here are 5 tips that we’ve found have helped to make our Teams seamless and bring some zen to our Zooms.

 Don’t worry about the first few minutes 

Time is precious and it’s right to respect people’s schedules, but one of the lovely things about in-person meetings were those few minutes before starting, where you are chatting, making people a coffee, and sharing updates on families and interests. Zoom calls enforce punctuality, but making time for that more informal, relaxed intro is really important for rapport.

Get your background sorted 

Not everyone has a separate office environment when working from home. We created a Dow Brand background on Teams to try and create a consistent, clean background, and so no-one on the team feels they need to hide or move anything in their environment that they might prefer to keep off camera. It also feels more professional for more formal meetings. 

Zoom has a ‘touch up your appearance setting’ that can also be helpful if you want a little bit of help on feeling more polished. 

With both, I would suggest ringing a friendly colleague so you can play around with your settings – a) because in Teams you can’t update offline, and b) it’s useful to get honest appraisals (and screenshots!) of how you are presenting yourself on someone else’s screen.

Dress for the meeting you want

One of the arguable benefits of WFM is being able to wear more ‘comfortable’ attire than you normally would in a professional setting. There’s nothing wrong with this – I’m sitting here writing this wearing sweatpants - but if you are feeling like you need a little boost, there is also a lot to be said for dressing and behaving as you would if you were going to be meeting face to face. There is proven psychology of using what we wear to increase our sense of confidence and professionalism, so I tend to take the time to put on jewellery and lipstick before a video call with clients; I always find it helps to put me into the right headspace.

Always be prepared

It’s important to go into any meeting, online or otherwise, feeling prepared and unflustered so everyone feels at ease. I try to set a timer for 10 minutes before a scheduled call to do a quick onceover on what we’re going to talk about/present, and to make sure I have my tech sorted (including plugging anything in so it doesn’t run out of batteries). If you’re having issues consistently with your internet maybe do a speed test to check there are no issues with your internet

Not sure? Just ask!

NOTE: This depends a little on the size of the meeting (with a lot of attendees the dynamic is a bit different, or a host might use messages to filter questions), so more suitable for smaller number of attendees in a meeting.

It is hard to read the room when you are not in the room, so we really try to overemphasise with clients that we’re happy for them to interject, ask questions or add anything. We say it in every meeting, and during the meeting to try and encourage engagement and make everyone feel comfortable to chip in with their thoughts. And we really, really mean it – getting honest, open feedback and different perspectives are key to great collaborative work.