Scream: Zoom in for Trick or Treat

Video conferences are the new Halloween. Every time a meeting starts, it’s trick or treat.  Please be video conference savvy. The challenge of rapid onset quarantinia, where one is compelled to drop personal grooming habits, don sweatpants, become addicted to tasty snacks and binge watch streaming content has blurred the lines and it is time for some decorum. Yes, Jefferey Toobin, you. The expression is “get a room” not “go to zoom.” Welcome to the Zoom normal; the Halloween Horror Edition.

5. The Blair Witch Project: Spare us the shaky camera. Please stop balancing the laptop on your knees or worse “the walking house tour.” This is a business meeting. All that shaking in a movie conveys uncertainty and terror. In a business meeting it sends a message you can’t be bothered to give your full attention. Keep the camera still.

4. The Silence of the Lambs: Try to stay on mute until time to talk. If you can hear the sound, we can hear the sound. If you are going to keep an open mic, remember you have an open mic. We can still hear when you turn your head or whisper to have another conversation.

3. Host: If you are the meeting host, act like it. Be a host. Develop a flexible agenda that allows you to eliminate agenda items, presentation sections, etc. as needed so you can finish on time. Sure, it takes some work, but figure it out. Allow time for a late start and a conversational or technical detour. It is your responsibility to respect the participants and end on time.

2. The Shining: This is a meeting not a medical exam. We don’t need to see up your nose. The angle you have on your laptop for normal use, doesn’t work for a video conference. We are tired of looking at your ceiling or worse. Get a laptop stand or a camera. Check your lighting and ensure you do not look like you are in a witness protection program.

  1. Get Out: Horrified?
    1. If you are challenged to maintain politically correct facial expression. Turn the camera off. Blame it on low bandwidth and freezing images. Let’s face it, there is video conference fatigue.
    2. Look at your background. You do not want to convey chaos and confusion in your business meeting. Most conferencing application have backgrounds. Use them. They are slightly annoying, but, much easier to take than a cat grooming itself in the background.
    3. Someone hosting a bad meeting? Leave. Just drop the call and avoid going to the sunken place. Get Out.

If you are using video conferencing for business; get familiar with the application. Invest in a few items to look professional.1 This week consider business etiquette and the zoom normal.


1 Use a laptop stand or tablet stand to work with angles. How’s your lighting? Use a selfie light or cube.

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