Here’s A Simple Solution To Avoid The Awkward Zoom Pause

You’ve seen it many times, I’m sure.

A Zoom chat starts at a specific time, so you login and click the audio and video buttons so people can see and hear you.

You see a group of people and stare at them for a moment. 

Then you start talking or at least engage with the group.

There’s always about 10-15 seconds of awkwardness as you fumble for the right buttons, trying to remember how you left the settings and before your audio connection starts working. It can also take a few seconds for people to realize you’re there, but they also might be staring at you waiting for your video and audio to start working especially if you’re the boss. It literally happens at every Zoom meeting.

I’ve written about Zoom fatigue and other problems, partly in jest or at least as a coping mechanism, but the reality is that Zoom is one of the only (and best) ways to communicate these days. I like the low latency because it seems like everyone is alive and animated. On Skype, there’s a sense that the video isn’t always keeping up with the conversation or the video. Don’t get me started on other video chat apps.

Because Zoom is so popular and has become a way of life, there are also a few minor annoyances. The most common one is a weird pause when the chat starts.

Here’s how to solve it. My idea comes from the world of professional video (shout out to a few colleagues who do that job for a living). It does take a little practice.

When you are ready to join a Zoom call, sit to the side so you are off camera or point your webcam away from you. (At the very least, sit at an angle so it looks like you are not chatting yet.) Join the call and click the unmute button or activate your video feed. When you hear everyone and you know everything is working, then move into view.

This trick also works if you are recording an explainer video that you plan to post on LinkedIn. I’ve seen countless “talking head” videos, and many of them still start with the awkward pause. By starting off camera and entering the frame, you are controlling what people see and hear. You are avoiding that strange period of time before your video and audio starts to work.

Keep in mind that this trick is going to also seem a bit odd to the meeting attendees, at least initially. Move into the frame slowly, not like you are jumping into a scene to do a weather report or an action news segment. Instead, make it natural, as though you were doing something else and now you are ready to join. It’s exactly the same as entering a real meeting by walking into a conference room.

In fact, you can say roughly the same thing as soon as you know the video and audio are working. “Hey, how is everyone doing?” is a good start.

It won’t work for every meeting. Sometimes, it’s okay to have that weird pause before as everyone settles in and engages in a little idle chit-chat.

For most meetings, you won’t have to sit in silence for a few minutes. If you try this trick, drop a note on my Twitter feed and explain why it worked.

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