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.
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