Residential Magazine

The Invasion of the Zoom Zombies

Liven up this means of communication with clients and referral partners

By Nancy Friedman

If you’ve been on Zoom or any other videoconferencing platform over the past 18 months or so, you might be part of the problem or part of the solution. Video conference meetings have grown in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, complaints over how people act and appear on these meetings rose as well.

Zoom meetings (which has become a catch-all phrase for video conferencing like Kleenex is for facial tissue) are here to stay. This is a convenient and efficient method for mortgage originators to contact clients and referral partners.
This doesn’t mean, however, that everyone is effective at these meetings. Worse, people can actually make errors during these sessions that can be off-putting to their clients or referral partners. So, let’s establish a sense of decorum for these meetings. Here are a few guidelines to help improve your conversations on Zoom, Microsoft Teams or whatever videoconferencing platform you use.
Prepare ahead
There are some folks who feel you aren’t able to “hear” a smile. That’s not true. There’s no way to not smile on camera and look good. Everyone can see if you’re smiling or not — and yes, they can even “hear” it. Find a picture of yourself that you don’t like and chances are it’ll be a picture in which you’re not smiling.
Having a difficult day? You don’t need to have an exaggerated smile on your face, but you can keep your mouth in a slight uprise. Not smiling makes you look older and unhappy. No one looks good when they’re not smiling. It’s that simple.
Understand that you’re on television. Sit up straight. No one looks good when they’re slouching or slumping. It’s very unflattering. Keep your hands away from your face. Don’t lean into your face with your palm. Again, this is unflattering.
Watch some of your nervous habits. Everybody has them; it’s just that you’re usually unaware you’re doing them. Some folks constantly play with their hair. Some folks bite their nails. You can go on Zoom ahead of the meeting and “check yourself out.” It’s a great idea to do that. Hair? Check. Makeup? Check. Appropriate background? Check. Leave nothing to chance.

Practice with a friend, family member or even by yourself, especially if you’re new to this medium. Check out all the screen options available to you. When you’re in the meeting, you won’t be the one yelling out, “Where is this?” or “How do I do this?” or “I can’t find the mute button” and more. Don’t let a business meeting on Zoom be your first time on camera. You can (and should) rehearse. Be familiar with the screen and its options; there’s not an actor around who doesn’t do rehearsals. Do it more than just once. It’s for your protection.
Your name will automatically appear on your picture. You can change it to your company name or you can add your email address if that’s what you’d like. You can customize this part as you sign on. Place the cursor over your name and you will be able to change what it says. And look for the three little dots in the upper right corner of the Zoom screen. It has a “change name” option. Again, only use this if you want to. But it’s a nice thing to know about before you go on.
Allow your creative side to come out. It’s obvious if you use the same word over and over again. Often, folks start with the same word every time they’re called on, including “so” or “well.” You don’t need these words to start every sentence. Be mindful, too, of how often you come out with “umm.” It’s a crutch and isn’t needed.
Avoid distractions
There’s plenty of no-nos of which you need to be aware. To be blunt, don’t eat meals on camera during a business meeting even if you’re familiar with the other participants — especially crunchy things like potato chips. It’s not appealing to anyone. Loud noises sound 10 times louder when there is a microphone involved. Sometimes even that simple bottle of water makes a big sound. Use your mute button often when you’re not speaking.
Yes, dogs and kids are cute — if they’re yours. But they are a true annoyance in a meeting. They’re never fun on a phone call let alone on a visual medium like Zoom. Be prepared. You normally know when you’re going to have a Zoom meeting. Put your dog in another area of the house if you can. Your kids need attention, of course, but consider holding your meetings while they’re asleep or at school. Barking, crying and extraneous noises are usually not appreciated.
As for backgrounds, be authentic. Fake is fake. People don’t really believe you’re in Venice or at the beach. Some of the backgrounds can be fun, but in truth, they’re distracting — especially when you try to be funny and change them every five to 10 minutes. Wherever your computer and camera are is normally fine. Remember, other users can only see what is behind you. If your place is a mess in front of the camera, who cares? Most folks who use Zoom are at home and are in pretty much the same boat.
Good lighting is super important, so make it as good as you can. You know how when you’re outside, the picture turns out much better if the sun is in front of you? Faces usually aren’t as dark or as difficult to see. It’s the same thing on Zoom. Keep good lighting in front of you. You can get a $12.95 LED device on Amazon.
People have incorporated Zoom meetings for social occasions, such as a drink or two after work. You can probably let loose a little during happy hour, but most of the aforementioned tips for a regular Zoom meeting will be appreciated.

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The Zoom meeting is a newfound way to communicate. Mortgage originators have embraced it by using videoconferences to discuss loan scenarios with clients, and to keep up with real estate agents, accountants and other referral partners when in-person meetings aren’t available. Some simple etiquette will enhance your chances of building successful relationships. ●


  • Nancy Friedman

    Nancy Friedman is the founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor, a customer-service training company headquartered in St. Louis. She has spoken at several state and national events for mortgage brokers and bank associations, and she has worked with corporations and associations on communicating better with their clients. She is the author of nine books, and her online and Zoom programs have been acclaimed as a "class act." Visit her website at

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