ZOOM. The New Office

by | May 4, 2020





So if you are anything like the rest of us, the first week of lockdown was like: “Yay – holiday and Netflix!”  The second week felt a bit more like “I better get a routine going, for sanity’s sake.” By now, the realisation has dawned that we need to pay rent or a bond by the end of the month. Business needs to carry on as usual. Or unusual.

Welcome to Zoom. The new office.

Zoom has been the virtual meeting tool of choice, despite many trying to discredit it with safety issues. Whatsapp groups, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, and Skype for business are all scrambling with App updates and new releases, but Zoom surpassed 300 million daily users, an increase of 100 million users since its last update on April 1.

So how do we Zoom along?



The selfie generation doesn’t need much help with this, but for anyone over 24, it is useful to look at some makeup tips. (Sorry guys – you are on your own here).

This 5 minute make up tutorial from Sona Gasparian, a Fashion Blogger currently living in Los Angeles, is all you need to look fabulous for your next Zoom conference call.

We have rounded up some make-up tips from Vogue magazine and several make-up artists, to make sure you look your best, even if you are still wearing your PJ bottoms. Some of the basic rules apply, with some new interesting areas of focus:

  • Apply a Good Moisturizer or tinted moisturiser
  • Add eye drops for white sparkly eyes
  • Fill in eyebrows to frame your eyes
  • Swipe on Mascara to open up your eyes – top lashes only
  • Add some blush on your cheeks, around the jawline, and underneath the brow – we tend to look washed out on conference calls

Alexia Frith, or Lexi as this Social media phenomena calls herself, has a passion for keeping it natural and has helped countless black women embrace their complexions and natural hair ​​texture. She shares her specialised tips in this short video:



So here is the kicker, you really only have to look good from waist up.  But that means you better stay in your seat the entire Zoom meeting. We have seen some #Epicfails the past weeks with people getting up at the end of their Zoom calls, without logging off first. Don’t be that guy! Or the girl that went to the bathroom without muting her call…

Former television journalist Carrie Doll knows exactly what looks good on camera and shares some tips with us:


  • When it comes to clothing, avoid patterns, stripes, and plaids.
  • Follow your workplace’s dress code and dress to the meeting level.
  • Bright white or black shirts may cause your camera to auto-adjust the brightness and make it hard to see your face.
  • Choose solid, bold colours within your colour palette.
  • Simple jewellery is best. Avoid dangling earrings or noisy bangles.
  • Check your appearance before going live with video.
  • Guys should avoid Herringbone jackets – it vibrates on screen. Navy Blue jackets look better than black, brown, or grey.
  • Use the “touch up my appearance” feature in Zoom to soften your face.
  • And finally, sit up straight. It doesn’t hurt to have good posture.



Zoom conference calls bring a whole new dynamic to the workplace. It could be utter chaos or could be a productive 40 minutes spent. The unpaid version of Zoom allows 40min calls – a great cut off time in my mind, because if you have not said it in 40 minutes, you did not have an agenda for the meeting or did not plan properly.

Keep in mind like with any other meeting, documents for discussion should be circulated before the meeting. The good news is that if you did not have your say in 40 minutes, you could just leave the meeting and set up another. Problem solved.



  1. Adjust your lighting

Avoid sitting in front of a window or light source –  it’s the biggest no-no in the Zoom Bible.  All your colleagues will see is the outline of a shadowy figure. Experiment with light sources until your test video looks acceptable.  Zoom also has a setting called “touch up my appearance” which softens your look a bit, but to me doesn’t make a huge difference.  Don’t expect Photo-shopped miracles.

Photo credit: Skillscrush

  1. Adjust the height of your laptop or mobile phone.

Create height – any way you please.  A stack of books usually does the trick, but we leave it up to your personal set of circumstances. The end result should have you  looking slightly up to the camera. It prevents the awful “look up into my nostrils” scenario.


Photo credit: Cnet

  1. Speak to the camera, not the photos on the screen.

It’s only natural to look at the person on the screen, but we should be looking at the camera. I still can’t quite get this right – it feels strange when you can’t see the other person’s reaction. Having your device a bit higher prevents the closed eyes/ droopy eye look.





The person arranging the meeting is in charge of the flow of the conversation and should mute participants as need be. It’s a good idea for the host to first quickly explain how the meeting will proceed.

  1. Do a quick 30-second roundup of how everyone is – Covid mental check-up.
  2. From there, move over to the agenda items.
  3. Use the chat facility for comments, when you want to send a question to everyone, or privately.
  4. Signal with your hand if you have something to say.
  5. Mute yourself to prevent kids, barking dogs, and background noises.
  6. The meeting host can press Alt+M on a PC, or Cmd+Ctrl+M to mute everyone on the call at once.
  7. Try to sit still, any action looks exaggerated – and that includes swinging in your chair, yawning, and stretching.



If your house is a grand mess you may want to save the rest of your colleagues from this sight. Here is how to change your background to any pic you choose:

Photo credit: Eff.org

Virtual background

  1. Pick the “stop video” option in the bottom left corner of the Zoom app.
  2. Select “choose virtual background.”
  3. Tap the plus sign next to “choose virtual background.”
  4. Upload a good picture that you’ve saved to your computer. (Note: some computers don’t support this.)

Record the meeting

A very handy little tool, especially if you need to take minutes.

As you listen to the recording again it’s easier to sift through the waffle and jot down the key meeting points. The recorded file is usually large and your own server may not support this. If you need to email it, rather use WeTransfer.




Share Screen

I am in two minds about screen sharing – it works best for larger images and is really great if you are on a laptop or desktop, but can get a bit small on a mobile phone. Complicated graphics and Exel sheets should be emailed to the participants at a later stage for info, or before the Zoom call for discussion.


Be mindful when sharing screens. Ideally, you don’t want people to see every pop-up email or private message coming through. Rather open the relevant documents before the call and make sure all the other documents and applications are closed.


Turn Video Off


Many feel that the whole point of Zoom is to actually see each other, but turning it off can help increase the clarity of the call. You can always turn it on later when it’s your turn to speak. Click on the arrow next to the camera for video settings. 


Short cut keys



Zoom has a handy list of short cut keys. Definitely save this somewhere, or you could find them under the Settings icon. You will thank me later!

Control your audio and video:

Alt + V: Start/Stop video
Alt + A: Mute/unmute audio
Alt + M: Mute/unmute audio for everyone except host
Alt + S: Launch share screen window and stop screen share
Alt + Shift + S: Start/stop new screen share
Alt + T: Pause or resume screen share


Recording the meeting:


Alt + R: Start/stop local recording
Alt + C: Start/stop cloud recording
Alt + P: Pause or resume recording
Alt + N: Switch camera
Alt + Shift + T: Screenshot


Control your view:

Alt + F1: Switch to active speaker view in video meeting
Alt + F2: Switch to gallery video view in video meeting
Alt + F4: Close the current window
Alt + F: Enter or exit full-screen
Alt + H: Display/hide in-meeting chat panel
Alt +L: Switch to portrait/landscape view
Ctrl + F: Search



Communicate with others:

Alt + Y: Raise/lower hand
Ctrl + W: Close current chat session

For more advanced keyboard short cuts, Digital Trends has some ideas.



As in real life, Zoom video conferencing reflects the kaleidoscope of personalities we deal with during everyday office life from the water cooler to the boardroom. If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs personality types, you will love our closing video.  I am an INTJ, and oh my, this is so spot on.

If this personality test is new to you, you will still recognise the types. Watch out for a good example of a screen share #epicfail. You can do a free test here in under 12 minutes, and then find your personality type in the video.


Naomi Fry writes a brilliant article in the Newyorker where she ponders how to embrace the Chaotic side of Zoom.

“With millions of Americans self-quarantining for the foreseeable future, Zoom became, seemingly overnight, not only a professional lifeline but also a way of life. Suddenly, we couldn’t see anyone in person, but everyone appeared to be seeing one another on Zoom—at college lectures and in elementary-school P.E. classes, at cardio-kickboxing training and on kindergarten playdates.

Fry continues: “Zoom was providing us with more clues than ever before with which to figure out, or at least to imagine, what people might be doing in their more private lives—what they might really be like.”

Lovely sentiments indeed. But if the previous three lines gave you a slight chill down your spine on what seems a pretty sunny day, you may want to go back to our paragraph about Virtual backgrounds.

With love,

from the INTJ personality during your next ZOOM call.



She knows her Merlot from her Mojito, her hotel from her motel. From craft food to caviar, her innate curiosity about life and wanderlust provide inspiration for her blogs, articles and press releases about the travel, wedding and Spa industry. Over twenty years in the hotel marketing & PR arena with impressive hotel groups, from Dubai to Durbanville, has evolved into the pure enjoyment of freelance projects under the banner of About Branding.


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