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Portrait of Bill HickeyA man feverishly typing at a computure Zoom Etiquette

Have you noticed some pretty consistent behaviors (not all good) in these ZOOM meetings we've been holding for the past year or so? Here are a few "rules of the road" to help you make ZOOM a more positive experience for EVERYONE:
  • MUTE YOUR MICROPHONE - to help keep background noise to a minimum, make sure you mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
  • BE MINDFUL OF BACKGROUND NOISE - if your microphone is not muted, avoid activities that could create additional noise, such as shuffling papers.
  • POSITION YOUR CAMERA PROPERLY - if you choose to use a web camera, be sure it is in a stable position and focused at eye level, if possible. Doing so helps create a more direct sense of engagement with other participants.
  • LIMIT DISTRACTIONS - You can make it easier to focus on the meeting by turning off notifications, closing or minimizing running apps, and muting your smartphone.
  • AVOID MULTI-TASKING - You'll retain the discussion better if you refrain from replying to emails or text messages during the meeting and wait to work on that PowerPoint presentation until after the meeting ends.
  • PREPARE MATERIALS IN ADVANCE - If you will be sharing content during the meeting, make sure you have the files and/or links ready to go before the meeting begins.
  • If you are physically in the Cathedral, DO NOT dial into the ZOOM session. You shouldn't be using your phone anyway, and you have the ZOOM session on the big screen in the North. SO, mute or turn your phone off!!! Don't use bandwidth we need for the ZOOM session.
Let's amplify that last point a minute. If you have a presentation to be made, let's remember that the AV crew has to be able to integrate it into a complex set of hardware, software, and internet activities. Don't expect the crew to be able to handle your last-minute changes or presentations. A good friend of mine (a Navy Supply Officer in Scotland) once explained in a sign on his desk: "don't expect a failure to plan on your part be a justification for an emergency on my part." A word to the wise is sufficient. Get your information/file to Don [Marshall] at least a week prior to the session.

As we transition back to a more normal state of activities (and it's going to be hard to break some of the habits we developed over the last year), we need to remember that ZOOM is nothing but a TOOL - it can help us do our jobs better and include more people in our meetings. It can also be a confounder if the person running the meeting doesn't know what they're doing or isn't organized. People won't want to waste time if things aren't working properly... and remember... it's not always the fault of the system sending out the ZOOM session - many times it is the result of what I'll call "operator headspace" - in other words, the person on the receiving end not really understanding their own system limitations and capabilities when problems occur. We can't be troubleshooting in real time during a session. The time to do that is in practice sessions.

William A. Hickey, III, 33°
Editor-in-Chief, Denver Scottish Rite

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