Who’s Zoomin’ Who?
Aretha Franklin’s 1985 hit song, Who’s Zoomin’ Who, defines our new normal. In an era when worldwide stock markets are in freefall, the price of Zoom Video Communications has nearly doubled in the past five months. Worth just $1 billion as a private company three years ago, it’s now worth $30 billion.
Of course, I welcome any technology that builds community and allows our society to come closer, especially with our quarterly MEA Alumni Digital Town Hall coming up this afternoon.
However, this new reality requires a whole new set of skills. That said, here are your top five pieces of video call etiquette:
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking, especially if there’s background noise. You wouldn’t bring a BoomBox into your company meeting room, right? If you’re muted, you’re welcome to give a thumbs-up when you like what you’re hearing.
- Be on time. William Shakespeare, who loved to Zoom, famously said, “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” He understood that Zoom time is like dog years—a minute late to a call can feel like seven minutes to the other person.
- Pay attention to what your camera is focused on. “Mr. DeMille, I’m not ready for my close-up.” Are you framed correctly with your camera height and depth and a background that’s not distracting? Do you have proper lighting, or does it feel like you’re the troll in the dungeon? Is your bong out of camera view? Visuals matter.
- Visual behavior also matters. Nobody may notice that you’re picking your nose in your vast company conference room, but when you’re Zoomin’ each other, be on your best visual behavior or turn your video off for a few minutes while you listen to the audio, as you take care of your personal hygiene. Although, do try to be on video most of the time; otherwise, you might as well be on an old school phone.
- Follow the leader. Social cues can be lost on video calls, which means that some large group calls can feel like a bad reality TV show, with everyone talking over each other, potentially made even worse by lag-times in video. If you’re engaged in an expressive conversation with your group, make sure there’s a leader who calls on people when they’re raising their hand. A little order goes a long way in making everyone feel welcome.
In short, there’s no better time to polish our online etiquette or any etiquette that allows us to build community! I’m looking forward to our quarterly MEA Alumni Digital Town Hall this afternoon, which will include breakout pods for more intimate conversations. Welcome to the world of the Jetsons. If you don’t understand that reference, you’re probably not yet a Modern Elder…come anyway.