Why it’s hard to be heard on Zoom

Why is it harder to be heard on Zoom? Tons of reasons. Let’s start with the fact that your physical presence is reduced to the size of a postage stamp.

That means it’s tougher to read the room. Research shows that the virtual environment exacerbates disparities that already exist in conversations where only a few people tend to do all the talking.

But look no further than your own experience to tell you that it’s awkward and can be confusing, and just…harder. Disembodied voices from faces that froze a minute ago, glitches and skips and delays. It’s like we’re re-learning how to have conversations with robot versions of ourselves.

No wonder the minute you log off you need a nap. Or is that just me.

I cover a whole bunch of strategies for being heard online (and everywhere else) in my free training, “Unmute Yourself)—which you can get right now if you want to.

Make it work:

Record your calls. And then watch back. I know it’s not fun. I didn’t say it was going to rival a Netflix binge. But it’s hard to get perspective on a convo when you’re in the middle of it. Go back and watch the flow of conversations. Who speaks, and how. What do you tend to do or not do? What patterns do you see and where are the opportunities you can keep an eye out for next time?

Use the chat. Passing notes used to land you in detention. But not in the weird world we’re in now! You can literally hold multiple conversations at once. It can detract and distract, but it can also be a powerful way to be heard, provided you use it effectively.

Train yourself to keep an eye on the chat—and use it to bookmark points people are making AND to amplify the voices of others who may be hesitant about speaking up. When I see someone put a comment in there, I will often invite them to share their point. Chat does not replace your actual voice, so don’t let it.

Resist the urge to disappear. I know it’s easy to stay on mute, and maybe even turn your camera off so you can multi-task or zone out. Fight this tendency. If you keep yourself muted, and invisible, you’re not doing yourself, your team, or your organization, any favors.

Check out the full training, Unmute Yourself: How to show up, stand up, and say your piece—online and everywhere else.