Mute That Zoom, Please

Lynn ZimmermannBy Lynn Zimmerman
Associate Editor
Editor, Teacher Education

Since the stay-at-home orders started, many people have been using Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms. Those of us who are used to working remotely and/or teaching online are familiar with various platforms and use them with varying degrees of ease. However, you have probably found there are a lot of people using them now who aren’t quite sure what to do and how to do it. I’ve been in some non-work-related meetings in the past few weeks and the experience is definitely different when you are interacting with people who are new to the experience.

Photo from the Zoom site.

What prompted this article? I have recently discovered that my biggest pet peeve when attending these various meetings is that people often don’t voluntarily mute themselves, and, for whatever reason, the host doesn’t mute them either. If attendees will sit there quietly, it’s fine. However, I was in a meeting this week with 25 participants in which:

  • one participant was sitting outside and the wind was blowing, so there was a constant low whoosh throughout the meeting;
  • one participant kept blowing his nose;
  • one participant’s phone kept ringing; and
  • one participant was having side conversations with people in the room with her.

In other meetings there have been dogs barking, heavy traffic, etc. All of these were unnecessary distractions that judicious use of the mute button would have taken care of. And, yes, before you ask, I muted myself and stayed that way until I had a contribution to make, then immediately muted again. 

What has your experience been? What would you like to share about having successful online meetings?

Whether you’re new to videoconferencing or an old hand, a review of the ins and outs and the netiquette of participating seems apropos. I have included several links here that address some of the issues I’ve run into and others that haven’t come up. They have useful information and tips about having a successful online meeting.

Hart, M. (2020, March 25). Video conferencing etiquette: 10 tips for a successful video conference.OWLLabs.

Lovgren. B. (n.d.) Working remote? These are the biggest dos and don’ts of video conferencing. Entrepreneur.

Gewirtz, D. (2020, April 6). Video conferencing from home: Ten golden rules for newbies and pros. ZDNet.

5 Responses

  1. Lynn, very timely — and spot on! I’ve been zooming from my lanai with mic on — with plenty of wind and traffic noise in the background. Groan. -Jim

  2. Then there’s the other side. Just in a webinar with a university president who constantly forgot to unmute when he was supposed to be addressing everyone. I like the Zoom, push-spacebar-to-talk feature. I’m always muted unless I push the spacebar — know that I’ve unmuted and that I will be back in mute when I released the spacebar.

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