How to hold better Zoom consultations for your firm
Read on to learn how to hold better Zoom consultations and keep your firm running remotely.
29 May 2020 · 7 min read
With businesses rapidly adapting to conducting meetings remotely, relying on video conferencing software like Zoom has become the norm. Zoom allows us to meet with our coworkers, stakeholders, and new and existing clients without being present in the same room.
Safe and secure meetings with clients are a must for businesses, especially those in the legal, consulting, and accounting fields.
But how do we ensure we’re making the most of this technology?
Read on to learn how to hold better Zoom consultations and keep your firm running remotely.
What is Zoom and how does it work?
Zoom is a communications software service that provides online chat and video telephoning services via a cloud-based, peer-to-peer platform. It is commonly used for teleconferencing, distance learning, and webinars.
Though Zoom has been used by firms for years, the Covid-19 crisis has made it a daily tool for connecting with and maintaining relations with clients.
Zoom offers secure communication services and has plans and pricing to suit the needs of law firms, accounting firms, and consulting firms of all sizes.
Tips for holding better Zoom consultations
There is an art to the Zoom meeting that’s simple to understand and allows you and your business to make the most of your time using the service.
When you’re trying to make a connection with an existing or new client, you want to convey your expertise and professionalism.
Accounting firms need to convey that they can handle their clients’ financial tasks like bookkeeping or tax preparation.
Consulting firms must demonstrate they grasp their client’s business operations, needs, and goals.
Legal firms have to show their clients that they understand their specific legal needs and be able to outline the upcoming process.
While this is something fairly straightforward to do during in-person meetings, making your case via Zoom requires a whole new skill set.
1. Plan with your team in advance
Until your team has a solid grasp on holding consultations over Zoom, it’s best to work out all the kinks before a meeting with clients.
Hold a Zoom practice run with all the coworkers who will be a part of the consultation, assuming you are more than a one-person operation.
The team leader should consider the strengths of their team members and their specific job roles and work out who should say what, when. It’s like practicing an oral presentation before it’s time to deliver the speech.
And while you likely cannot prepare for all possible outcomes, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how a test drive can show your clients the strength and confidence of your business.
2. Introduce everyone right off the bat
Getting the introductions out of the way is the best way to encourage engagement. The host should give the first introduction, followed by the other team members who will be taking an active role in the consultation.
Typically, the company that initiated the Zoom meeting will take the lead and introduce itself first. The individual or company you invited will likely follow your lead and offer introductions afterward.
Be as brief and concise as possible. Unless this is a new potential client, they probably do not need to hear the entire background story of all the members on the call.
Not only do introductions encourage engagement from all participants, but they’re also a wonderful way to get over any initial sense of jitters and break the ice.
3. Focus on the camera, not yourself
The video window streaming live while you talk is always a tempting glance away. It’s not necessarily a vanity point, our eye just tends to travel to all moving objects, which in this case can be ourselves. Resist the temptation to stare at yourself as you talk!
The best way to do this is to stare right into your laptop or phone’s camera. This is as close to maintaining eye contact with a client as you’ll get. It will also help keep you focused.
It becomes obvious when someone in a Zoom meeting is distracted by their own video, and distractions are never a good look for professionals.
4. Have a work-appropriate background
You do not want to be chatting with clients when you have a messy or otherwise distracting background behind you. There are plenty of stories, pictures, and videos circulating the internet about the horrors of having an embarrassing background while on a Zoom video call.
At the very least, it can be amusing. But at the worst, and as in many cases, it looks thoughtless, disrespectful, and unprofessional overall.
When in doubt, select a handy virtual background, another impressive feature that makes Zoom so remarkable. Ensure the other members of your team do the same during their web consultations.
5. Double-check your audio and video settings
It’s embarrassing to join a live video chat and suddenly realize your microphone is on mute and your video function is on the fritz.
Prior to the start time of the meeting, be sure to check your phone, tablet, or laptop’s audio and video settings. No matter what device you rely on to participate in a Zoom meeting, the audio and video settings can be specific settings that are not conducive to a professional consultation.
Make sure the volume is unmuted and at an appropriate level. Be sure the camera is on and functioning. This is also a great time to check the angle of the camera to ensure participants are at roughly eye level.
6. Turn off notifications
Another embarrassing and common interruption that occurs during a Zoom conference call is the dreaded notification sound.
You may be starting a consultation with a potential client about why your firm is the best choice for their legal needs. And then it happens: a ping from a news alert, an incoming call, or a reminder from a digital calendar on one of your nearby devices.
Notifications occur at all the wrong times and are an embarrassment that can alter the entire tone of a meeting in the worst cases. Do yourself and your business a favor by ensuring that all notifications on all devices in the vicinity are off. Remind your team members to do the same if you think it’s appropriate.
A notification going off during a professional meeting will make you look not-so-professional and can give the impression you’re unprepared. It will make clients less enthused about relying on your firm for their legal, accounting, or consulting needs.
7. Stick around to the end of the call
This is important if you are the host company maintaining business with a client company or hoping to attract a new client company. Checking out of the meeting before your guests send the wrong message.
If you’re a consultant and are pitching ideas to a client company, they may think you do not consider their business important if you suddenly exit. It may tell them you have better things to do.
You can see how setting a tone like this is hard to recover from. No matter what may come up while you’re in the middle of a Zoom meeting, do not drop a call.
If there are certain special circumstances, such as a troublesome internet connection, be sure to acknowledge any potential issue at the start of the meeting. Assign a team member who can take over the meeting if you end up losing your connection.
8. Ensure your Zoom meeting is secure
Zoom is a public forum, so your meetings can be invaded by uninvited guests if you’re not vigilant.
The rise of Zoom-bombing is yet another phenomenon brought on by Covid-19 and bemoaned by the masses who rely on the platform for its communications services.
If you own an accounting firm and are about to deliver a quarterly review to a client, enduring a Zoom-bomb during a business consultation not only interrupts your report, it creates a disturbance that’s hard to shake off.
Therefore, it’s incumbent upon you to do everything you can to prevent an unwelcomed guest on a Zoom call. But how do you keep your Zoom meetings free from intruders?
Follow these simple steps to keep your meetings secure:
Do not share the link to your meeting via social media or other public platforms. This is the easiest way for the uninvited to join your meeting.
Generate a new meeting ID for each meeting. Relying on your Personal Meeting ID (PMI) to host events allows anyone to join in your personal meeting space.
Hosts should use Zoom’s Waiting Room feature, which allows you to control who enters and exits the meeting. It’s kind of like managing the guest list to a super-cool, invite-only party.
Disable the “Join Before Host” feature to ensure you alone have control of your Waiting Room. This allows you to ensure only those who were officially invited will attend.
Disable “File Sharing” so that a virus cannot be spread during the meeting. The File Sharing setting is how people have infiltrated private meetings with their unwelcomed media.
Check settings before and during a call to keep your Share Screen private. If you’re the host, click the up arrow next to Screen Share during a call to access advanced settings. Click “Host Only” under the “Who Can Share” section. This prevents anyone else from sharing content during the call, which can be dangerous, depending on who’s sharing.
During the meeting, the host can also control aspects of their participants’ features using several helpful features under the Participants menu. Here, you can manage settings that allow you to…
- Lock the meeting to outsiders
- Eject disruptive users if they manage to enter a call
- Mute participants, whether invited or uninvited
- Turn off annotations so intruders cannot play around with this feature
Obviously, these are only helpful during the meeting, at which point a disrupter has already reared their unruly head.
But it’s always good to know that there are measures in place to prevent intruders and stop them in their tracks when the fail-safes have, well, failed.
Maintain your business with Zoom consultations
It has become necessary for businesses in all fields, including law, accounting, and consulting, to communicate with clients using Zoom. By following our tips, which include creating a plan, encouraging engagement, and double-checking your audio and video settings, you can hold smooth Zoom meetings.
Zoom is not perfect, and no amount of preparation can guarantee a wonderful business consultation using a platform like this. However, all we can do is follow these tips and try our best. Being able to hold better Zoom consultations can be the difference in how many clients you attract and hold in the long run.
Check out the rest of the B12 Resource Center for more ways to keep your business productive during and after Covid-19.