NewsBiscuit’s guide to online meetings

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Meetings, meetings, meetings. Whilst they are ghastly in real life, online they take on a new dimension. So, with nearly 300 days experience of online meetings in various lockdowns, the NewsBiscuit team has compiled this handy guide to making the most of online meetings. Here are the essentials:

– It’s important to have a good internet connection, so whether you are trying to connect via Zoom, MS Teams or Google Meet make sure you have a good network provider. Also, do not try and connect via your circa. 1983 Etch-A-Sketch because no matter how close you place it to your wifi thingy, it won’t cut the mustard.

– To avoid looking like Nosferatu the Vampire, make sure you are well lit, but don’t overdo it so that you glow from the screen. Remember you are trying to be professional, not showbiz.

– Choose your username carefully. Again, remember it is a professional setting, so don’t use your PornHub user name as it may cause offence.

– Try not to comment on your colleagues’ pokey surroundings. Yes, the grey shades and surfeit of suitcases may give a poor impression, but on no account should you jokingly offer to be a hostage negotiator or ask how long they have been chained to the radiator.

– Do try and engage. Online meetings require you to be more of an active listener but there is also the temptation to mute and turn off your camera whilst you catch up on social media. Avoid this, but make occasional interjections to show that you are still in the meeting. Try and make these positive contributions rather than asking when the session will end.

– If you are asked a question that stumps you, do not try to speak intermittently to fool your colleagues into thinking you have a poor connection. It may work initially, but they will soon catch on.

– Also, on the visual front, some apps offer you the choice of background. Be careful if you use a ‘green screen’ background so that it is neutral and not likely to cause offence. Nobody wants to see you as an Action Hero when all you do is sales and marketing.

– Remember it is a professional setting, so you should not be wearing anything that detracts from your professionalism. It goes without saying that you should not try and connect whilst you are having a bath. The suds will only cover you for so long and there is the danger of losing your device in the tub.

– Obviously remember to unmute, but also do not forget to mute if you don’t want to be heard muttering about what a waste of time this is or making snide personal comments about your colleagues.

– Do make relevant points and ask for clarification. Don’t try and make jokes such as asking colleagues to hold hands across their screens so you can have a seance to find out what Senior Management are thinking. This sort of thing inevitably gets back to Senior Management.

– It is fine to have a coffee or tea with you but try not to lay out a buffet that you graze from during the meeting. On no account should you smoke or inject yourself on camera as that will lead to complaints.

– Avoid picking your nose or ears, its amazing how many YouTube, “how to” videos show this.

– During particularly lengthy meetings you are elongating because you love the sound of your own voice, should you need to go to the toilet while on camera, avoid peeing into metallic pots. Ensure large plastic containers are to hand, preferably with resealable tops, like burpable tupperware, and line the bottom with absorbent material.

– Consider locking the door: network interviews cutely zoom-bombed by errant children and pets may go viral, but your five-year-old bursting in shouting; “Is that baldy-man, the one you call The Tw@tinator, Daddy?” is likely to generate less warm-hearted sentiment in your GM.

– Avoid the Toobin Trap: However dull the meeting, stimulating the sales figures, or attractive you find Robin from accounts’ velour home-wear, please restrain any from ALL stress-relieving five-fingered hand-shandy while there is any chance you’re still connected. The same goes for gentlemen, too.

– Ensure that there isn’t a mirror behind you in the shot. You do not want to inadvertently reveal that you are still in pyjama bottoms.

– Discipline is essential as more than one person speaking at the same time tends to mute everyone. Therefore, only talk over those you wish to annoy.

– Mute yourself before eating crisps or an apple during the meeting.

– Similarly, tell your teenage son to turn his so-called music off before joining the call because your colleagues did not join the meeting to listen to his sweary grime.

– If editing a shared document on display in front of the whole meeting, ensure your English is even better than that of your Swedish supplier. It is embarrassing to be told by a foreigner, ‘No, you do not need an apostrophe for a plural.”

– Move the icon of the most attractive member of the meeting group up to centre midfield, just below the camera. Then your adoringly lascivious pervy gaze will be mistaken for deep focus and connection with the meeting/current speaker.

– Use your device away from external noise, such as lawnmowers or treefellers – unless of course you’re expecting awkward questions

– Keep a scented candle going where the others can’t see it, burning ylang ylang, frankincense or simply weed. With any luck, you’ll start coughing uncontrollable – 2 weeks off, result!

-Remember to wear a mask so they can’t lip-read what you’re really thinking; goggles and hat would be an extra nice touch. In fact, your wife/husband or children could take a turn too, no-one would notice.

– Although, of course, you should acknowledge the difficulties caused by Covid-19, do not waste ages going through all your personal gripes. No one is listening as they want to talk about their personal gripes. And certainly, do not wear a plague doctor beak mask and wide brimmed hat to indicate your reluctance to attend the meeting.

– Ensure your cat has a clean sphincter before allowing it on camera.

– Beware reflective surfaces. Glasses, polished metal, mirror finishes and front-lit windows can all betray the condition of your downstairs. And people make SUCH a fuss…

– ‘Any other business’ is not an invitation for you to suggest a further item for discussion. Remember everyone has been hovering their cursor over the ‘leave meeting’ button since item 2 on the agenda 3 hours ago. Please follow Debretts Guidance on the correct response to ‘any other business’ in the COVID era which is ‘no. Absolutely nothing. Stay safe. Got to go.’ Followed by that satisfying tone when the Zoom call ends.

– Do not under any circumstances share in the chat function that picture from the muppet show highlighting how it looks like their on a zoom call. Funny last April, now…not so much.

– You really should hide that ‘Top 20 serial killers’ book from your bookshelf.

 

Hat tips to: Rowly, SteveB, Filthy Rich, Midfield Diamond, Ironduke, Sinnick, Bigglesworth and chrisf.

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Posted: Jan 10th, 2021 by

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