Gone are the days when meeting faux pas stayed in the room. In a time of Covid, video calls are akin to live broadcasts and often recorded. It’s led to a surge in bizarre, uncomfortable and downright embarrassing meeting moments ending up with millions of views on social media. #Zoomiliation travels at lightspeed, it seems. Thankfully, we’re on hand to help make sure that the contents of your home office don’t end up trending on Twitter with a few easy tips.
How’re you looking?
Sounds obvious but take a moment before you click ‘join’ to give yourself a quick once-over. It’s not a vanity thing, we promise (although, if you want to zhuzh up your hair, you’ll find no judgement here). Taking the opportunity to look at yourself in the ‘frame’ pre-call is important. Because when you’re in a hurry it’s easy to miss that bit of macaroni stuck in your hair from hastily feeding the kids between meetings.
Tip: Try and give yourself space between calls. Not only will this give you any necessary prep time, but it also means you’re calm, organised and with zero shaving foam on your ears.
Beware of filter fiddlers!
On Zoom’s latest beta, you can apply effects to ‘all meetings’, which is handy for looking your best (who hasn’t applied a gentle blur from time to time?), but not so great when you share a laptop with your eight-year-old, who wants to be a pirate in space when she talks to her grandma. Likewise, Google Meet remembers your last applied filters/effects. So, let’s all laugh heartily at “I am not a cat”, but make sure it definitely doesn’t happen to us by ensuring all filters are reset before the next person needs to make a call.
Tip: Make sure you know how to access the settings on every device. For example, filters on Zoom are found by clicking the arrow beside the camera icon, but on smartphones, it’s can be found through the three dots that indicate ‘more’.
What’s behind you?
It’s not just people who multitask these days, our home spaces have become used to adapting to all sorts of new jobs – as offices and classrooms, as well as our personal, functional rooms. And sometimes they might accidentally… overlap, leading to some eye-wateringly embarrassing consequences. What we’re saying here is that sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees, and it pays to regularly inspect your workspace to make sure that there’s nothing lying around that you wouldn’t want grandma to see. Like your full collection of the books of E.L. James. Or that interesting bottle opener your cousin brought you back from Tenerife.
Tip: If you’re struggling to beat the chaos, why not buy a decorative screen to place behind you when you have calls. It also means you can move around without fear.
Get into the ‘mute’ habit
Yes, yes, yes, we know that ‘you’re on mute’ is in the top three most irritating expressions that Covid has thrust upon the world (up there with ‘we lost you for a minute and ‘can you hear an echo?’), but mute is arguably the most important weapon in your war against #Zoomiliation. A sensitive laptop can pick up every sniff, stomach rumble or… worse. Also, get into the habit of double-checking that you’ve properly left a meeting when it’s over. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg certainly will after forgetting to click the leave button when speaking to Boris Johnson during a live press conference recently.
Tip: A headset is your friend. Not only does it focus the mic on your voice, but it puts you in a ‘meeting mindset’ and reminds you not to get too comfortable.