Virtual Meeting Goofs That Get the Best of Us
We’ve all heard mortifying tales of virtual meetings gone wrong: the woman who forgot to shut off her camera while using the bathroom, the lawyer who morphed into his cat filter, and endless pet and kid bombing incidents. Most of us are tech-savvy enough to avoid the more embarrassing videoconferencing blunders—household interruptions, sensitive background reveals, getting caught texting or not wearing pants! But here’s a look at the common faux pas many of us make that leave us blushing.
1. Close encounters of the screen kind
No need to cozy up to the camera to make sure coworkers can see or hear you—unless you want your facial features on display (pores and fine lines included!). Sit a few feet away from your screen and test your video beforehand to fix funhouse-like distortions. Set your laptop on a stack of books to get the screen level with your eyes. That way no one has to look up your nose or feel like you’re looking down your nose at them!
2. The eyes have it
A gulf of space between your head and the top of your screen looks like you’re peering over a fence for a backyard chat (à la Wilson, the incognito neighbor in the ‘90s TV show “Home Improvement”). Not enough space makes you look like a giant. Tilt the camera so it captures you from the shoulders up and look directly into it instead of checking yourself or anyone else out.
3. The Oversharer
All it takes is an errant click or keystroke to expose the personal underbelly of your desktop instead of the PowerPoint you meant to share. Spare your coworkers and yourself this cringeworthy moment by closing tabs on your browser, disabling notifications and alerts, and clearing your desktop before presentations. No one needs to know what your private texts say or the things you’re Googling late at night!
4. Stuck in a moment with you
Let’s face it: Seeing someone freeze up during an unflattering moment is pretty funny—until it happens to you. Check your Wi-Fi connection before hopping on a call to prevent awkward freezes or choppy interference that makes you sound like a dalek. Test for a lagging signal (speedtest.net is a good free tool) beforehand, and keep your device fully charged or plugged in so you don’t get kicked off in the middle of the convo.
5. What happens without video ...
We all make assumptions about coworkers who join a call with audio only. Are they lounging on the couch in their pjs watching Netflix? Maybe. Are they blowing off this call to do heaven knows what? Possibly! If you must turn your camera off, save it for emergencies (yes, making a bathroom run or wolfing down lunch between meetings counts!).
Virtual meeting goofs happen to the best of us, so test your camera angles, team presentations and equipment out ahead of time to steer clear of bloopers that will make you go viral in the wrong kind of way.