As my eldest goes through remote learning, she adds fantastic stories of fellow students doing wacky things on camera. Mostly unintentionally. Her stories are hilarious and remind me that kids are amazing. Whether changing clothes, exploring the insides of either nostril for extended periods while on camera, or forgetting to go on mute – her teacher has to remind everyone about zoom etiquette regularly.
I would love to say this is just an isolated issue with kids. It’s not. I’ve been in bed with so many co-workers and clients. Well, that didn’t sound right. I’ll rephrase: I have been on so many zoom calls where others are lying in bed. In some cases, hair towels and robes have been involved. I’ve even been taken into the bathroom an excessive amount of times. And to be precise, more than once is inordinate.
Jon Acuff and Seth Godin recapped some great zoom habits that assume you know the basics – like not taking your laptop into the bathroom. Please. Here are a few of their suggestions with a few of Tech Vs. Humans additions.
Zoom rules (or they should be)
- Stop walking around during video calls. If you’ve ever seen The Blair Witch project – you know what I’m talking about. The last thing you want is to cause Vertigo in your zoom attendees.
- Horrible lighting is distracting. Having a zoom call with someone you feel might be in witness protection is challenging. Get your lighting sorted, please.
- When you aren’t talking – go on mute. So many people need this one tattooed on their butts. Still, aside from barking dogs, zoom and zoom-like technologies don’t know the difference between foreground and background noise. They pick up everything.
- Consider your backdrop. Take a look at what is in your background. Do you have a picture of you and your frat brothers doing shots from your glory days in college? Do you have your unmade bed? Consider something less distracting and perhaps invest in a green screen.
- Avoid Odd camera angles. No one looks good when the camera is pointing up at your face. No one. Not Scarlett Johanssen. Not Ryan Reynolds. No one.
- Mute button mismanagement. How many meetings have you been to where someone has said, “Sorry, I was on mute?” For me, it’s at least three meetings a day. If you go on mute, know that you have to come off silent to speak.
- Eating/drinking on calls. If you can avoid it – try not to eat on calls unless it’s a teambuilding exercise and you all are eating.
- Every call does not have to be on zoom. I used to mandate zoom on every remote call, but I’ve experienced burnout like many others. There are too many video calls, and the incoming data is overwhelming. So instead, try mixing your days up with good old-fashioned cell phone meetings.
- You are keeping your camera on (especially when everyone has their camera on). If everyone has their camera on, you need to address why your camera is not on.
- Set audio to off upon entry to a meeting. This is minor, but this setting needs to be your default. Consider your entrance into a zoom call like the first impression.
- You may be home, but don’t dress like you just got out of bed. It’s still a professional call, so you should still try to aim for professional, at least from the waist up.
- Virtual backgrounds – Don’t use them unless you have a green screen. They are insanely distracting, especially when someone’s hand disappears and reappears multiple times during a conversation.