Fourteen tips for getting the most out of your Zoom time

Now that we are all getting comfortable with using online video software, there are certain do’s and don’t’s that we really should all be following.

Online you can find dozens of Zoom etiquette guidelines. They’re couched in earnest helpful tones; they tell you stuff that’s basically obvious, common sense so they’re sort of useful. But if the earnest common sense annoys you, here are some less obvious gender, race, age and ethnicity nonspecific tips for getting the most out of your time in Zoom meetings. Our fourteen pointers start with what not to do. Why fourteen and not five or ten? Well because fourteen is four more than ten and four more than five is nine and nine is my lucky number.

During Zoom meetings don’t …

1. … pick your nose (You can do this if you do it behind your hand, but it’s unlikely to go unnoticed so only do it if you’re desperate.)

2. … wear see through clothes (They’re distracting and while this can be a useful way to put off colleagues you want to get into trouble, it’s unfair for everyone else. But if you want to send some people into a frenzy, choose the outfit wisely.)

3. … file your nails under the desk (This is especially to be avoided if you are prone to gazing rapturously off screen, however it could be diverting in very dreary meetings. Choose your moment wisely.)

4. … stroke your dog’s head under the desk (Stroking even the shortest dog risks you coming across as elsewhere; coughing and moans as you struggle to reach make it worse.)

5. … take your computer to the loo (If you have to wee or more hold it for as long as you can, but keep a straight face and keep still. Jiggling is a no-no.)

6. … shout at the screen without first checking that you are muted (This is a really big no-no, unless you are angling to be furloughed or fired)

7. … make rude gestures at the screen without first checked that video is off (see 6.)

8. … hum (you might find it soothing and a tricky habit to break, but humming means you’re not listening to whatever drivel is coming through. Remember that humming can happen subconsciously.)

9. … practise your impressions of colleagues during the meeting, especially not those in the meeting (take notes of particular traits and tics for future use)

10. …if you’ve mastered the art of sleeping with your eyes open, remember not to snore

11. … forget to pay attention (It’s impossible to fake a look of thoughtful pondering on screen when it happens suddenly.)

12. … play video games in a secondary window (Although it might look like you are paying attention to the meeting, you might inadvertently go mental. This disconcerts colleagues and undermines your appearance of engaged attentiveness)

13. … try to answer emails if you are prone to talking to yourself 

14. … get drunk unless you do it discretely and can be sure not to go red in the face as the booze kicks in

Of course there are some useful things you should be doing during online meetings.

… do

1. … use the Chat function to warn that your Internet connection is playing up so that you can duck out when you’re fed up with the ramblings

2. … wash your face and dress (if you only dress your top half, remember not to lean too far sideways if you have to reach for something. If you think there’s a risk of your bottom half coming into view, wearing big, fancy underwear.)

3. … nod slowly and thoughtfully no matter what’s being said, by whom (Make sure to practise your nodding beforehand, so that it isn’t too mechanical.)

4. … mute yourself when talking lovingly to an unseen pet, as this could easily be misunderstood

5. … keep your wine/beer/cocktail glass discretely hidden, ideally on a tray the floor to avoid it slipping over and spillage (you can slurp whilst retrieving a dropped pen see 6.)

6. … appear to be taking copious notes (Asking people to repeat themselves can reinforce your apparent commitment, but don’t overdo it see 5.)

7. … keep your expression engaged, with no eyerolling or heavy sighs (Remember to change your face from time to time.)

8. … clasp your hands under your chin if you need to stick out your tongue at half-wits

9. … hide the plate and napkin when you’re eating (Avoid spicy or messy food that might lead to choking mishaps and eye watering as this can be misinterpreted as sincere emotion.)

10. … remember to ensure your chat messages only go to the intended person and that most of your colleagues are likely to have had a sense of humour bypass

11. … prepare for the meeting in advance, or at least appear to have done (Shuffling notes and looking over your glasses helps here, as does looking at your watch.) 

12. … get there early to check everything works and to be first for maximum creepy creep points (See 11.)

13. … be well rested or use makeup to hide the bags under your eyes; sunglasses are a no-no.

14. … snap back promptly when you hear your name, and remember to blame the connection when you ask for the question to be repeated

Global corona virus suspension order


This post was originally published on the 1st April, 2021

In light of the corona virus pandemic, governments around the world have got together and made an important declaration. The Coordinated Global Governmental Announcement (CGGA) is being made in response to the rapid spread of the virus. The devastating contagion has caused a variety of national lockdowns, forbidden civil sniffling and coughing in public, banned all hugs, kisses, close quarter flirting and general jollity. The bans have consequently caused considerable misery. People have been forced reluctantly to sprawl on sofas, eat takeaways and drink beer, while watching excessive quantities of Netflix, You Tube and BBC content. To ease the burden, the CGGA has decreed that all problems and related processes are now suspended indefinitely.

The announcement comes at a time of unprecedented government generosity, with the exception of personal protective equipment provision and virus testing kits. Tonnes of money has been promised to businesses and citizens all over the world. Governments in countries such as the UK have also provided additional original online entertainment content as part of their support packages. Funding is only available for people who can negotiate complex strategy based gaming moves to work out how to claim money they are entitled to. Processes have been made especially exciting to titivate and tantalise those people whose cash flow has dried up completely. Claimants are expected to be much encouraged by today’s announcement that processes and problems are now suspended for the foreseeable future.

For many authorities, citizens’ inability to navigate funding application processes was considered a mildly worrying problem. However CGGA’s announcement means that this problem, along with all the other problems in life, goes away. Difficulties such as paying utility bills, buying food, paying for heating and internet service provision, loneliness and the like are now classified as problems. Henceforth they are cancelled.

The CGGA’s new measures are expected to remain in place until the corona virus is totally destroyed. This might take a few years, or a few generations, but there is little certainty as to which. There is also little certainty on possible corona virus exit strategies, however, as this is an especially severe problem, it has also gone away especially severely.

The Lassies’ Reply

With apologies to Robert Burns, here is my take on the reply to Toasting the Lassies for Burn’s Night 2020.

The Lassies’ Reply

Thank you sir for toasting the ladies
We’re all in heaven, far from hades
We know the tunes, the sins, the wages
And so do you
Side by side we turn the pages
You know this too

Though your fate is to do our bidding
We know its trust and not just kidding
That keeps us oft from just admitting
Of what you can do
We ponder standing and just sitting
Oh what thoughts ensue

If you wonder why we love you
Know our dreams are sometimes of you
Though nightmares might be closer truth
And what we see
In holey pants and scuffed up shoe
Is mystery!

They say a man’s more with a wifey
Not sure it’s true when times get dicey
For winds blow cold and long and icey
Oft it’s endless
So forgive weather that’s unkindly
Try a caress

If we get cross when you digress
Or switch the channel sans redress
Or leave the bathroom in a mess
Please, just don’t
We’d rather have your tenderness
Than spit “I won’t”

For men who touch us slow or fleetly
Who we do serve, just oh so meekly
You know we see you
And you care for us, oft thrice weekly
You know what to do.

This short poem is too soonly ending
On your patience it’s been depending
But time for you, is not mere lending
It’s for always
Though only if the knee’s sharp bending
For all the days.

Beware our passion and our scorn
Remember us lest you should mourn
Hope and faith are with us reborn
For lust and love
Needs you strong, bold, and not forlorn
Our hand, your glove.