small-business smb-productivity

How to be Zoom Ready in 5 Minutes or Less

We’ve all had that moment of panic. You’ve just finished: 

  • A sweaty workout 
  • Changed out of work clothes into super comfy but ugly PJs 
  • Took a shower 
  • Put in your nightguard 

You begrudgingly check that notification on your cell phone screen.  

That client who has been making you crazy wants to meet. That client who you have practically BEGGED to make time for you is making time. Ready or not, that time is now.  

No matter how prepared you are, nobody likes to have an important meeting sprung up on them. We are all familiar with this scenario. It has happened to you before and it will happen to you again. The last-minute video meeting is here to stay. Yes, you are expected to have your audio and video on. You don’t want to push off the call even though it’s last minute.  

Freaking out? Had you planned on having a chilled PJ day of productivity? Here are some tips to be ready for that video call in 5 minutes or less.  

Accessories to have on standby:  

Everyone has their own personal style, so borrow ideas that you like and disregard what you consider to be a fashion faux pas. 

  • Scarf: No matter what you are wearing, you can always use a scarf to cover that upper half of your neck/torso that will be seen on the other side of that screen. In 5-10 seconds, you’ve “changed” into your professional top. Well done!
  • A black shirt. Have thirty seconds to spare? Have a pack of black shirts ready to go for a quick wardrobe change. A black t-shirt is like the little black dress in the world of hybrid/remote work. Even a basic black undershirt pack can do the trick in ramping up your supply. (I am a fan of the V-neck, but to each their own.) 

“A black T-shirt will always work if everything else fails. No wrinkles. No stains.”

Arie Katz, CEO of Roundrack  
  • Headphones can be your savior on multiple fronts. 
    • They can drown out background noise. You may not be able to stop the party of guests you have over, but you can make sure that nobody experiences fomo by using noise cancelling headphones. I prefer Jabra headphones and no, I’m not getting a commission based on any sales.  
    • Having a bad hair day? Throw on those headphones! You could also keep hairstyling products, a headband or scrunchie to tame your mane in your office area. But headphones can accomplish this and more without adding steps. Ryan Gunn, Senior Operations Consultant at Aptitude 8, has some bald…I mean bold alternative solutions:
  • More headphone functions: 
    • They can drown out background noise. You may not be able to stop the party of guests you have over, but you can make sure that nobody experiences fomo by using noise cancelling headphones. I prefer Jabra headphones and no, I’m not getting a commission based on any sales.  
    • Having a bad hair day? Throw on those headphones! You could also keep hairstyling products, a headband or scrunchie to tame your mane in your office area. But headphones can accomplish this and more without adding steps. Ryan Gunn, Senior Operations Consultant at Aptitude 8, has some bald…I mean bold alternative solutions: “I don’t know that my advice is very widely applicable, but having a shaved head makes it VERY easy to get ready quickly. I can roll out of bed and put a shirt on and I’m ready to go. So, I guess my advice is to get a low maintenance haircut.” 
    • Headphones can cover your ears. If you feel naked without your earrings (it is a thing!) you can consider yourselves clothed with your headphones on.  

At the very least, I think that I have sold you on how incredible headphones are in the age of video conferencing beyond their intended functionality.  

Kids in Tow?  

You can always lock yourself in a room, handover a screen, break open that emergency stash of treats to keep your children at bay, but you could go about keeping your children occupied more proactively.  

Leon Adato had some great tips on this front.

“When mine were younger I had a bucket of toys and games that ONLY came out when I was on a call. As soon as the call ended, the toys had to get packed up and put away. My wife and I were careful to frequently refresh that bucket with new, interesting, AND QUIET items so my kids never knew what they would find but knew it would be cool. And yes, at some points my kids actually ASKED me if I could schedule a call just so they could play with that bucket.” 

Leon Adato, Principal DevRel Advocate at New Relic

Prepare Your Settings in Advance:  

  • Have your background ready. I like to leave my background on blur. You should not have any issues no matter your background if it is all one big mush. You can always choose another home office background or an actual office background. Here are some that you might like.  
  • Want to hide that blemish or workout glow? No need to run around washing your face or applying makeup. Use that touchup filter. Keep it on always. Smile, you look fab.  
  • Allow other colleagues to co-host. Just in case you have a tech mishap, or you want to buy that extra time to review details for your meeting, they can start the meeting without you. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a virtual waiting room. It is a mood killer. Your customers thank you in advance for not leaving them all alone in a black void. 
  • Disable your video and audio when you first join a meeting. This is a helpful safeguard from prominently displaying a remnant from your lunch break for your important clients or CEO to witness. You’re welcome.  
  • Record the meeting. If this is a last-minute meeting or an anxiety inducing meeting, you may be flustered. No need to add on the pressure of taking solid comprehensive notes to your load. Record all meetings as your default. This way you can focus on the conversation, facial expressions, and engaging with others on the call.  

How to Prevent This Situation: 

  • While things may happen at the last minute, it is common to be caught up in a project and suddenly realize you need to hop on to another meeting. You can prevent needing to rush by setting reminders for calls. 
  • Use more than one monitor? Set your reminders to appear on all screens! 

While you should not be expected to be readily available 24/7 and advance notice is obviously appreciated, you will want to take some of these last-minute meetings. I have found the tips above to de-escalate my stress levels.