From the desk of Karen Lombardo, Owner Put Another Way, LLC.
As someone who has worked remotely for decades, conference calls, and what we used to call “bridge calls” have always been a part of my professional life. Since March, professionals, families, and students have been thrown into the virtual reality of Zoom, GoToMeeting, or whatever other platforms you engage in.
When I worked for the law firm in Manhattan, we were ‘gently’ schooled on web meeting etiquette. Video conferencing back then was slow and expensive. Time was valuable, so behavior and etiquette were understood and non-negotiable.
Is there such a thing as Zoom Etiquette?
I was recently asked about this very topic. I chair several committees and community groups, and in the absence of in-person interactions, we now live online.
Zoom meetings appear to be here to stay.
For some reason, the comfort of being remote seems to have affected the meeting’s dynamic in ways other than the obvious. My hat comes off to the parents of school-age and young children who balance work and home life with unbelievable grace and patience. I had to laugh one afternoon when my client’s 2-year old streaked by in all his glory. I have not laughed that hard since March!
Five things to bear in mind when on a zoom meeting:
Emily Post would be proud of us for taking the time to bear witness to the things we have all done at one point or another, and that perhaps will be counted as lessons learned.
We can see you! Yes, we can. That means that all the silly commercials and memes about appropriate dress code, online eating habits, and background ‘artwork’ are based on reality. Prepare for a Zoom call as if you were going to a meeting. Get dressed, pour a fresh cup of coffee, and take a moment to look behind you and see what others are seeing.
Use the video shut off only when necessary. When participating in large webinars or meetings, most attendees turn off the video, and all attendees turn off the audio. That is appropriate for that setting. Small groups usually ask the attendees to mute but not turn off the camera. Please be mindful of the entire meeting group. Turning your camera on and off is distracting in small meetings. It may send an unintentional message to the person speaking that you are not paying attention.
No, you cannot multi-task. In nearly four decades of my professional life, I have attended more meetings than I care to remember. People were on time, for the most part, and came prepared. In today’s virtual meeting environment, people are looking at their cell phones, muting and talking to other people, or checking email. The brain cannot multi-task. Your full attention belongs to the person speaking.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Simple. Engage with the speaker and give them the respect they deserve. It will be returned to you tenfold.
Be present. This new way is not easy nor preferred. We all long to go back to chatting after a seminar or heading out for coffee to work on a project together. But this is what we’ve got, and we need to be mindful and present from the moment you click “join the meeting.” Let’s try and remember that the people on the Zoom meeting with you are happy to see you, want to engage with you, and so often struggle themselves. When your peers are speaking, be present for them. Listen, engage, and ask questions.
Thank you. Thank you to all the people who give up their time for Zoom meetings. Thank you to the parents who so delicately balance their work and family life. Thank you to the Capital Region Chamber for working so hard to engage the members and keep some semblance of normalcy through Women’s Business Council events, BRG meetings, Business After Hours, Network by 9, Award programs, YPN, and Consulting Alliance, to name a few. Your commitment to our Chamber community deserves our full attention and time. I, for one, am happy to be a part of it.
Karen Lombardo is the founder of Put Another Way LLC. Karen has been creating websites and relevant content for businesses for over a decade. The company culture is relaxed, our office mate is an old Pug named Izzy, and our philosophy is to listen first, create later.