Zoom: Fly Like a Professional

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Today, our course, Fast Track to Become an Airline Pilot, will highlight the topic, “How to Navigate the Cockpit.” In this episode, we will address important questions such as “Are all the buttons and knobs really necessary?” and “Are cabin crew uniforms functional or fashion forward?”

My random discovery of internet flight training made me think of how operating from a cockpit is so relevant to our daily life right now. We are living in a virtual world of Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx, and these new platforms and practices demand new knowledge and skills from us. They bring us new tools, settings, and protocols, along with a few updated benefits. One important benefit is safety, because remote contact allows us to social distance. It also saves us travel time, possibly travel money, and it is easier on the schedule. Virtual has become the new norm for social gatherings, classes, meetings, and interviews.

Now that you are sharing your physical home with the world, you will want to think carefully about the messages your microenvironment is sending and take care to build your Zoom world from the inside out. Much like the cockpit or other small habitat, it is extremely useful to follow a step-by-step guide to building a strong Zoom space. Create a checklist like a pilot and mount it by your computer. Two words of advice: plan ahead and pay particular attention to certain key aspects.

Buttons and Knobs

Test your pre-flight tech. Confirm that your camera and microphone are working. Do this before your meeting or interview, maybe even a week or so beforehand. If there’s a problem, you may need close to a week to order, receive, and install a new webcam. Also, test your Internet connection. Daily challenges can be taken with a grain of salt, but chronic disconnect may hinder you in the long run. Know how to mute and unmute yourself quickly and easily.

Set Design 101

What is all that stuff behind you? Why the empty bookshelf? You don’t read? Looks as though you have a bit of laundry to do after this interview.

Tidy up. Look behind you. Close your closet door. Log on by yourself and have a look over your shoulder. Seem fine? Ask a friend or relative for their opinion. You don’t need to get fancy, but you should make sure that your physical surroundings are guest ready. You want your host to pay attention to you and what you have to say, and not to a distracting background. Practice, Take 1, Take 2, and… Action.

Big Story, Small Space

Maneuvering a plane off the ground is a heavy lift, one that is controlled within a small space. You can communicate your thoughts with strength and authenticity. Make sure you are positioned in a chair and space that allows you to be grounded and comfortable in your seat. Angle your camera so that you are looking straight at your interviewer, and monitor your voice for appropriate sound. In fact, if your interview or meeting is first thing in the morning, make sure that you warm up your voice and that you are ready to go.

Focused Movement

Clear all relatives and pets from the scene. Put your phone in the other room before your meeting. Eliminate predictable distractions so that you can be captivating on your own.

Sit up straight. Check your lighting. Maintain eye contact and engage in the conversation. Let your expression and enthusiasm come through, and listen at the same time. Listening and looking are important parts of the Zoom experience. It is important to know when to jump in and answer a question and when to let the interviewer continue to speak. Be alert for micro-expressions, which are the slight movement of facial muscles for a half-second or shorter. Reading body language and facial expression are important aspects of knowing what to do next. The details of an interview are important, so enter the conversation with interest and enthusiasm.

Of course, life may intervene with less than optimal surroundings, but do your best to limit the intrusions. If someone unexpectedly crosses your path, don’t be upset. Your interviewer will understand your circumstances, so just acknowledge what is happening and then get back on track.

Prompt and Polished

Zoom in on time! Have the access codes ready to go! Read the instructions outlined in the email that invited you to this meeting.  If you need to have your notes nearby, write them out on Post-It notes and stick them to your computer. For an interview, print your resume for easy access to dates and details and have the documents that you may share ready for Share Screen mode. Wear appropriate clothing — perhaps a jacket or simply a collared shirt. Be sure to know what is appropriate for the situation and dress accordingly.

The beauty of Zoom is in the eye of the beholder. You can give the best account of yourself by having your personal self, your surroundings, and your thoughts prepared appropriately for the occasion. You’ll be more likely to present well if you practice and pay attention to detail. Create an organized space, prepare, and be yourself. Doing so will increase the likelihood that you will make positive connections, virtually. Remember, too, that gaining mastery of this skill will be an important tool in your toolbox in the coming months. You will benefit many times over from whatever effort you invest now in preparation and practice.

Check list complete? You’re ready to launch and Zoom into your next adventure.

Maureen Delaney

Educational Counselor

As a Counselor in Educational Planning, Maureen Delaney considers the strengths and interests of students and helps them to achieve their academic and personal goals. Maureen takes time to establish authentic connections both to students planning for college and those advancing from undergraduate to graduate school. As an engaged partner, she identifies each individual’s strengths, cultivates...

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