We’re many months into the pandemic (we’ve officially stopped counting), yet every now and then we hear a story about someone doing something embarrassing on a video conference call.
Virtual meetings have become the new norm for many of us who work in the office, but whether you’re at home or in the office there is some simple etiquette you should follow to avoid the dreaded Zoom fail.
So, whether you’re new to one of the many video conference platforms, such as Zoom, Teams or Slack, or even if you’re a veteran, you can avoid risking embarrassment (or even worse, your job) by avoiding these four missteps:
DON’T Assume the Microphone is off
It’s always a good idea to keep your microphone off when on a video call. It gives the presenter the ability to speak without being interrupted. However, there’s an old rule for anyone in journalism: always assume the mic is on – even if it’s not. It’s safe to say that this rule now applies to anyone in front of a computer during a virtual meeting. Even if you think you’ve turned your microphone “off,” there are situations where a button accidentally gets pushed and the next thing you know, your team members are hearing things they shouldn’t — you muttering your true feelings, your kids screaming in the background, dogs barking, or even worse, someone farting–like this teacher who sends her students into a giggle fit when she accidently farts on camera.
DON’T take your Computer to Private Places
As with any real meeting, nature calls. If you’re on a laptop, resist the urge to take it with you to the bathroom. It sounds silly but there are countless stories of people being caught on in the bathroom thinking their camera and/or microphone was off. Like Jennifer, for example, who didn’t let her meeting get in the way of having to go pee. Needless to say her colleagues were pretty shocked and Jennifer quickly became an internet celebrity with the trending hashtag #PoorJennifer. Don’t be like Jennifer. Leave the laptop where it is and excuse yourself, if needed.
DON’T Assume Video Backgrounds Block Everything
The most “fun” feature that Zoom and Teams offer are the virtual backgrounds. They are great for blurring out a messy room in the background of your shot. There are many cool backgrounds you can use, from beach settings to outer space. You can even import your own images and use them as a background. However, a video background won’t hide everything. If there’s a moving object or person the effect doesn’t work. Unfortunately, one former Vancouver Councillor found this out the hard way — live on air with Global BC. During his Zoom interview, his husband made a “cheeky” appearance in the background and that’s when he and many others learned that digital backgrounds don’t block everything.
DON’T Eat on Camera
With a full fridge always nearby, it’s easy to always have something to eat while you’re working from home. However, eating while you’re on camera is just bad virtual meeting etiquette (unless you’re all eating on camera). If your meeting is running late and you’re really hungry, it’s best to turn off the camera and microphone to eat. No one wants to watch you munch on a sandwich while they’re speaking.
If you’re new to virtual meetings, it’s always best to practice, practice, practice before you make a real call. While Zoom and Teams are pretty easy and straightforward to use, there are many features that can throw you off. Get to know each platform before your meeting because they are different! It’s also a good idea to test out your camera and microphone beforehand to ensure they’re working properly and that you’re comfortable turning them on and off. And more importantly, be on your best behaviour; you never know what can happen or who is watching.
The team at Curve would love to meet with you on Zoom! What do you want to talk about? We promise not to eat while we chat. Contact us here.