Video Conferencing Software Makes Meetings Better with Derek Pando

Understanding how to use the right communication tools is a big part of being an effective meeting leader.

Video conferencing is becoming an increasing part of how we meet, so meeting leaders need tools on which they can rely. Zoom is one such video tool, made to accommodate more guests with high reliability.

Enter Derek Pando of Zoom Communications. He is our guest expert on episode #102 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. He’s here to tell you about how Zoom can help you meet online more effectively.

Eleanor Beaton

Derek Pando - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Derek Pando leads International and Partner Marketing at Zoom Video Communications. He has spent his career at high growth enterprise software companies including Salesforce and LinkedIn. He has held a variety of different marketing roles in his career. His expertise is in product marketing, international marketing, marketing strategy and social selling. He also writes and speaks on collaboration, technology, marketing, and professional relationships. He speaks Spanish fluently and can get by in Portuguese. If you a lot of time to kill, ask him about his vegetable garden. 

You can follow him on Twitter (@djpando).

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00:00 – Show Opening

Gordon Sheppard:    If you’re ready to learn about one of the best video conferencing softwares in the world, then stick around because today on the Meeting Leadership Podcast, we’re talking Zoom.

00:36 – Podcast content starts here!

Are you a professional, who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach, with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

Gordon Sheppard: Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard, I want to say thank you for being here. Thanks for being here because the Meeting Leadership Podcast believes that if you want to have a great organization, then you need to have great meetings because those are the building blocks of great organizations. If you want to have a great meeting, you need to be a great meeting leader.

You are trusting the Meeting Leadership Podcast to be the place where you’re picking up a daily tip, a strategy, something that you can take to build your leadership skills and learn how to have outstanding meetings. It is great to have you here.

01:14 – Welcome, Derek Pando – Zoom Video Conferencing Software

Gordon Sheppard:    Today on the podcast, I have to tell you I am super excited because for any leader who’s dealing with online meetings, today we’re going to talk about how Zoom Video Conferencing software makes meetings better. Thankfully, to help us learn how to do this, we’ve got Derek Pando. Now, he leads the Partner and International Marketing at Zoom Video Communications.

These folks, they IPO, they’re north of $17 billion in valuation. We are lucky enough to have him here on the show today. Derek, he has spent his career working with major companies in the Silicon Valley area; Salesforce, LinkedIn, and now Zoom. His expertise, it’s in product marketing, international marketing, marketing strategy, and social selling.

He also writes and speaks on collaboration technology, marketing, and professional relationships. One of my favorite things about meeting Derek comes right out of his bio. It says, “If you’ve got a lot of time to kill, ask him about his vegetable garden.” I can tell you, in the upcoming episodes with Derek, we actually do get at that aspect as well.

 But today, it’s all about Zoom. It’s all about how Zoom Video Conferencing Software makes meetings better. I’m not going to make you wait any longer. Here’s the wonderful interview with Derek Pando.

02:34 – Start of Derek Pando interview

Gordon Sheppard: Derek Pando, welcome to the show.

Derek Pando: Thank you Gordon. Very excited to be here.

Gordon Sheppard: Listen, I am thrilled. I have to be just super transparent about this, we’re recording this on Zoom. I’m a giddy teenager. It’s like when I grew up in Canada, so my dad had season tickets to the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. For me, this is just about in the tech area, like walking down to the Montreal Forum back in the day and watching my favorite team. So it’s really good to have you here. I can tell you though, Derek, there’s a lot of people that don’t know you. When you go to introduce yourself, what do you say?

03:01 – Derek’s self-introduction

Derek Pando: My name’s Derek Pando. I run a Partner and International Marketing at Zoom. Very passionate generally about technology, and professional relationships, and finding new ways to connect and help people expand their careers.

Gordon Sheppard:  Well, and you sound super modest about it. For one of the people that was an integral part of this massive IPO that’s taken Zoom into the stratosphere, I mean, it’s just incredible to have you here. Today though, because of the nature of what my show is all about in terms of helping leaders build skills, and helping people have outstanding meetings, we’re going to talk about how Zoom Video Conferencing Software makes meetings better.

03:50 – What is Zoom?

Gordon Sheppard: Let me just back this right up and ask you kind of a basic question, if you had to explain this for people that don’t know, what is Zoom?

Derek Pando: Zoom, we are a Video Communications Company. Our goal is to make video frictionless, whether it’s connecting with a colleague on the other side of the country, or in another country through your phone, or through your tablet, or through a conference room. We’re really trying to bring people closer together through video.

04:11 – Frictionless Video Conferencing

Gordon Sheppard: You say frictionless. That’s the heart of the matter for Zoom. How did you make it frictionless?

Derek Pando:  Well, we were not the first video conferencing company or solution. But if you look back in time, you really have to look at our founder, right? He was one of the founding engineers of WebEx, who was one of the pioneers in this industry that later got acquired by Cisco. In the day, even though there was a lot of companies that had video conferencing, we had Skype and many others, he really didn’t believe, because he spent a lot of time talking to his customers when he worked at those companies, that they were easy to use.

05:13 – Zoom strives to shock customers with quality

Derek Pando: That was kind of what drove him to leave and start his own video conferencing company because he thought they need to start from the ground up. They needed to be architected for a modern era and modern use. So mobile first, and distributed, and global, and all this stuff that has come with doing business in modern, internet age. Our CEO, when he started, he had a pretty intense focus on the customer and customer experience. That’s why we think people feel like Zoom’s easier to use and has less friction.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, I am definitely a huge fan from my end as well. When I hear about this ease of use part getting explained from that end, that it takes the years and years of development, I can just say sort of as a consumer, or, again, someone using it for my own podcast, it’s my primary sort of mode of choice, it is that ease of use. It’s the one where it’s not dropping out on me. It’s the one where when I go to have meetings with my team for the contractors that I’m working with around the world, Zoom is the go-to for me and it’s just working. Is that the kind of feedback that you’re getting from your customers these days?

Derek Pando: Yeah. I think people kind of have low expectations for the way they connect over video. They would expect that if you’re in another country with maybe not so great infrastructure, you weren’t going to be able to hear very well, see people very well. So, Gordon, your experience is not uncommon where you’re all of a sudden on a call with 10 different people from 10 different countries and it’s working. That shocks people, and we are happy to shock them in that way because our reliability is really our differentiator and has really helped us grow in such a competitive space.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and online meetings are tough enough. I can tell you living here in Canada myself, some of my work for example would take me into the realm of facilitating like an online board meeting with people in all different parts of the country. This video conferencing solution has been the go-to for it, because I can say, just simply as being a referee on those calls, it’s tough enough, let alone having to deal with any technical issues.

Derek Pando: Yes, definitely. A lot of people didn’t feel empowered before. If they had a big meeting, they’d feel like they need someone from our IT team, or they feel like they couldn’t do a video conference with more than a handful of people. It’s been our goal to kind of make that not the case anymore. So you can say, “Oh yeah, I can have a call with a hundred people and I don’t need to bug anyone in IT. I just need to send out a link and we’re ready to go.”

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and how lucky for you as an experienced marketer working at such a variety of different sort of big companies to be able to sleep well at night knowing that you don’t need to kind of lie, in a sense, about this reliability aspect?

Derek Pando: Yes. For me personally, as a marketer, I’m more of a missionary than mercenary. And so, it’s definitely much more natural to promote a product that I believe in, and frankly, use all day, all the time. The team I manage is globally distributed, so I experience what it’s like to have someone in Sydney, and Tokyo, and Amsterdam all on the same call at once. Most of the credit goes to Eric, our founder, and a lot of our engineers who made it that way. But it’s definitely a fun product to market.

06:16 – Expanding video conferencing to handle up to 49 people

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and what’s your favorite aspect? Given that you use the tool all the time, what’s your favorite aspect about it?

Derek Pando: I’d probably bubble it down to two things. One is you can see up to 49 people at a time, like visually. So imagine a lot of the benefits of when you have a meeting in-person, is you can see people’s reactions, you can see how they’re responding to you. To replicate that on an online meeting was very difficult, you could only see 1 or 2 people in a 10, to 12, to 20-whatever person meeting. I like to put gallery view where I can see everybody all at once and see who’s paying attention, who’s not, and who’s reacting. That’s the first thing.

07:14 – Derek on promoting a product he uses, and his favorite parts

Derek Pando: The second thing, it’s really fun but also has some practical applications, which is virtual backgrounds. Within Zoom, you can make it so that you can put any sort of background you want behind you. You can upload a picture. We have also some stock ones that just come baked in so that if you’re at a Starbucks, or if you’re at your home and it’s messy, or you’re just somewhere where you don’t want people to know and you don’t want them to be distracted by what’s behind you, you can change backgrounds very easily, which is a lot of fun.

Derek Pando: People have fun here. They’ll upload pictures of their actual office. So when they’re not at their office, people think they’re at their office, or they’ll upload a picture of San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge and people are like, “Are you in San Francisco?” It’s like, “No, I’m in London.” You get a lot of fun with that.

Gordon Sheppard: I love those points that you’re making, and for me, because so much of my work is helping people to have effective meetings, what you were pointing out there about seeing the faces, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to people, “Stop the audio calls.” The audio conference calls are killing people. I can tell you an example here in this country of someone who was on a 300-person audio call, and they were on the West Coast. To get off the call, because it was so boring, nobody could see anybody and those kind of thing, they would say, “Oh, I think I felt a tremor.” And they would just… anything that they could do to get out of that situation. 

08:58 – How seamless visuals make remote meetings better

Gordon Sheppard: But what you’re saying is, by seeing the facial expressions, and again, seamlessly being able to do it through your video conferencing software, that’s a better way to have a better meeting.

Derek Pando: Yeah, absolutely. You especially experience this when language becomes more of a challenge.

If you have someone who is speaking in a language that’s not their native tongue, like sometimes you need to be able to see them to understand a lot of the message that they’re trying to convey. We’ve had examples of people that were saying, “Hey, before, we didn’t feel comfortable hiring people in this country because it was too hard for our teams to communicate.” But once they’re able to kind of see each other and develop a more interpersonal relationship and have those additional visual cues with their communication, it got a lot more seamless, and then they were able to manage work effectively across borders, where before, it was just too challenging, so like a certain bother.

Gordon Sheppard: Well, what a great point. Here you are again bringing the world together. One of my favorite moments on one of those cross-Canada calls that I was involved with was a woman who had a wonderful career. She was now volunteering in this board setting and we were trying to get this board together. She had one of those moments where she was talking and you couldn’t hear the audio, and she was kind of banging through the buttons. Her husband appeared in the screen and fixed everything. Something that she said, “Well I hated that,” then she had the Zoom call experience, and she, within one call, was a convert.

10:20 – Tools and ease of use

Gordon Sheppard: What strikes me about this transition that we’re in right now, and maybe I’m going to say younger people, tools are fine. They jump on tools, they figure them out very quickly, but I can even see the folks that are in north of 50 and 60 that are jumping onto this, again, because of ease of use.

Derek Pando: Yes, we definitely have seen that. We’ve seen adoption in areas that had traditionally been as tech-savvy, and yet that’s our goal, to keep making it so easy to use that you don’t have to be super tech-savvy to be able to get up really.

11:17 – The future outlook of Zoom

Gordon Sheppard: Let me be selfish here for a second because I’ve got someone on the inside. What’s sort of the future for Zoom, and what’s the outlook for what we can look forward to?

Derek Pando: I think a couple things that I would say, future-wise is, being able to have video-enabled in more places where it makes sense, that maybe you didn’t before because solutions were too clunky or too expensive. Like a perfect example, like within an office setting, typically there’s conference room, after conference room, after conference room, or smaller rooms that are sometimes called huddle rooms. A lot of times, they don’t put video systems in there because they’re too small, or will only have three video systems per floor, or something like that.

What we’re seeing is, is that, because the price of hardware has gone down just generally, cameras and screens are cheaper as well as with our software, because we’re only a software-based solution, people are really going to drastically increase the number of places they’re able to power with video than they were before. Imagine a future where there’s like, say, telephone booths, there’s video booths, and you’re able to jump into an airport, into a booth, and have a business video call, and jump right back out. That’s what we see is the future, is like video just being enabled anywhere and kind of becoming the norm for how people communicate. We really think that video is the new voice.

Gordon Sheppard:    Wow. That is just so exciting. I can tell you, again, having experienced it through my own growth, having kicked the tires on the other ones and really keep coming back to land on Zoom, it’s a thrill to have you here on the show. If people need to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?

12:50 – Get in touch with Derek Pando – @djpando –

Derek Pando: Probably the best way is to hit me up on Twitter. My handle is DJ Pando. I’m not a DJ. My middle name is Jay which is also my Twitter tagline, because I confuse people a lot with that. Or, if you want to check on Zoom, you can just go to, and we have a free version of the product people can try, and kick the tires, and have meetings with up to a hundred people for no cost at all. So check it out.

Gordon Sheppard: Outstanding. It’s so funny to hear sort of the nice demur tone of your voice for something that I’m super excited about, and I know you are too. It was great to have you on the show.

Gordon Sheppard: I know that you’ll have to agree that there was a ton of value in that interview. The big takeaway for me, Zoom creates ease of use. You don’t need to go anywhere else. Just use Zoom, get those online meetings started, get face to face, have more accountability when you’re online, and really make your meetings go to that next level and be highly, highly productive.

13:44  – MLP 109: How To Lead Highly Productive Online Meetings with Derek Pando –

Gordon Sheppard:    If you’re like me and you can’t wait to hear more from Derek Pando, then stick around for Episode 109 on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It’s called, How to Lead Highly Productive Online Meetings. Derek there because he’s on Zoom all day long, shared some really good tips that you can take into your next online meeting to make it significantly better. You can get that episode by going to Then, on episode 116, we’re lucky enough to have Derek back to share an inspiring leadership story.

14:12 – MLP 116: Inspiring Leadership Stories with Derek Pando –

Gordon Sheppard:    He’s going to talk about some of the young people that he’s encountering. They’re right at Zoom, and how they are actually inspiring up and helping him and the senior leaders at Zoom to take their company to the next level. You can get that episode by going to

I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now, there, you’re going to find some outstanding training solutions that are alive for you and your team. There’s a great half-day workshop, there’s customized workshops, there’s one-on-one coaching solutions, and there’s great online training options as well.

14:39 – Meeting Leadership Academy –

Gordon Sheppard: You can get all of that by visiting, I hope you take a moment to hit the subscribe button to make sure that you can download the next episode of the meeting leadership podcast, or go back and listen to some of your favorites. If you can leave a rating and review, we’d really, really appreciate it. As always, thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you tomorrow on the meeting leadership podcast.

15:26 – Podcast Outro

Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. Don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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