(*Note: not to be confused with Zoom-bombing)
Here we are, at the end of another week of Safer at Home, and what a week it has been. I won't say our team is getting used to conducting business from the kitchen table...but, as Tim Gunn would say, we're doing our best to Make.It.Work. Which is a long way of saying a LOT of Virtual Meetings have been going on.
No one handed me a manual for how to behave on these things, so I figured I would compile what I've learned the hard way into a quick best-practices guide, to spare you the same pain. Feel free to utilize any and all of these the next time you're asked to "jump on another quick video conf call" that you know will last 2x longer than it needs to, because people are still "getting used to this crazy technology!"
Tip #1: Do us all a solid and wear a shirt with a single color; some (read: all) of us may (read: do) find busy or bright patterns dizzying/nauseating, especially on a computer screen.
Tip #2: Try not to sit with your back to a window, unless you're going for the sultry silhouette look. If you wish to grace the other video conference participants with your glowing countenance, position yourself facing a window instead. This way, you’ll be basked in natural, picture-perfect light, AND you’ll get some sun! (Which anonymous sources say has recently replaced both gold and oil as the nation’s most precious commodity. #fakenews)
Tip #3: Watch out for the perils of “wide-angle face”. Who among us has not been on a video call with the poor soul who either a) has no idea their camera is turned ON, or b) simply doesn’t know that most smartphone cameras have a wide-angle lens, and the closer you are…well, the messier it gets (from a proportional perspective.) Strive to avoid being this person by maintaining a decent distance from your camera lens, especially if you join using your phone.
Tip #4: Level up. And by that I mean keep your video camera at eye level whenever possible. No one wants to be looking up your nose, and if your camera is higher than your face, you’ll get wrinkles. Best to keep everything straight-on.
Tip #5: Last, but certainly not least, get to know your MUTE button. Get to know it intimately, as it is now your best friend. It is your pal, your confidant, your savior. There are many like it, but this one - that one right there, on your phone/tablet/computer - is YOURS. It’s no secret; there is nothing worse than being on a video conference call with someone who consistently forgets to re-mute themselves after speaking. This is the same person who then immediately proceeds to bang out a quick set on the drums, drop their phone into a pit of barking dogs, or start prepping for dinner with all 16 pots in the Cuisinart set they got for Christmas. Please don’t be this person. For the sake of our sanity, your reputation, and the reputation of your family for generations to come. Another reason to mute immediately is to avoid saying something that was NOT meant for the group!!!…to the group.
That’s about all for now. Please check back in next week for more pearls on navigating this new work-from-home terrain. In lieu of thanking me for the free advice that no one asked for, please order a pizza (or whatever strikes your appetite-fancy) from a local business for dinner tonight. Now get out there and be the upstanding, community-supporting, neighborhood-strengthening citizen you are!