I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch tomorrow. We’ve canceled our meeting but will have a virtual happy hour late tomorrow afternoon. For those of us over fifty, we are well aware that we are at higher risk for complications from Covid-19. We need to protect ourselves from social interaction, yet we also need to stay connected with others for our own well-being, if not for business reasons.
Free and Easy to Use with Lots of Great FeaturesIf you are not already using the Zoom app to stay in contact, I strongly suggest you consider taking about five minutes to explore this incredibly easy, free video conferencing tool by signing up. The first time I actually used it was a few months ago when I was invited to a virtual meeting. All I had to do was click on the invitation link, and I was a participant. With the free version of Zoom, users can connect with individuals or with groups of between three and a hundred people; however, group connections are limited to 40 minutes with the free version. Also, when connecting with a group of people, it is important to know that any background noise your device picks up will be broadcast in the group; that is why it is important to mute the microphone icon (lower left on the Zoom screen) by clicking it when not speaking. Some of the other features offered in the free version include the ability to record sessions, share screens, use a virtual whiteboard, chat, and invite additional members after a meeting has been started. Meetings can be scheduled or can be spontaneous.
Overcoming Video Technology ApprehensionAgain, the technology is extremely easy to use. Anyone who knows how to email can figure out how to use Zoom. However, some people are a bit intimidated by the idea of seeing themselves on a video. I understand that. It can be a bit unnerving at first. If you wish, you can soften your appearance on Zoom by simply clicking on the arrow next to the video icon at the bottom of the screen. Then scroll to settings and click on “Touch up my appearance.” By doing so, your image will appear a bit softer. One useful tip I got was to be sure that my eyes were focused on my computer’s camera rather than on the screen. By doing so, I am less likely to pay attention to myself and am more likely to project better eye contact with others. For those who have not used Zoom but are curious, I suggest trying the application with a trusted friend or family member. My son helped me explore some of the different Zoom features. We tried some things out together. He also told me that Zoom can be used on phones and different devices. How cool is that!
My Challenge to YouInterestingly, I’ve talked with a few friends about Zoom and have discovered that they have not used it or have not heard about it. If you haven’t tried Zoom, my challenge to you is to take five minutes and sign up, explore what it can do for you, and then start connecting. If you are already a Zoom user, reach out and encourage others to stay engaged during this time of social distancing.