The workplace is a stage and we’re all playing our roles, trying to come across as serious, competent and on top of things. In short, it’s the ideal set-up for comedy episodes of failure, embarrassing moments and trip-ups – the higher the stakes (and the rank!), the funnier.
A new arena in the office world, virtual meetings are just as valid an opportunity to make a fool of yourself as the traditional meeting, presentation or conference call. But they come with their very own, specific pitfalls that the skilled video conferencing participant can learn to avoid.
Here are our top 5 blunders and tips on how to steer clear of them.
1. You’re on air!
So easily done, so much potential for embarrassment: Forgetting you’re on camera is an all-time classic in the blunder charts. Maybe you just quickly wanted to open up a document in the foreground or accidentally minimised the web conferencing window, and within minutes you’ve fallen prey to the old kindergarten logic of ‘you can’t see me if I can’t see you’.
Avoid by focussing on the virtual meeting, and be disciplined about keeping all video feeds of the meeting on screen at all times – especially the one with yourself in it!
If web conferencing has become part of your everyday office life, it’s easy for your co-workers to forget you might be on a call – and provide an inappropriate noisy backdrop to your call. Worst-case scenario: they’re talking loudly about the very people you’re on a call with.
Avoid by letting everyone know you’re on a call beforehand. Quickfix: know where the mute button for your microphone is (in OmniJoin it’s under the “Audio” tab) and don’t be afraid to use it!
3. Dress for success
The spontaneity of web conferencing is a special challenge on Casual Fridays and home-working days. Don’t be caught on camera in your PJs!
Avoid by always dressing for at least a casual meeting. No one expects you to wear a suit when you’re working from home – but casual Friday rules are the minimum standard.
4. Pulling faces
Reacting to someone else’s contribution or presentation by pulling faces, raising eyebrows or even laughing is just as inappropriate on web conferencing as it would be in a traditional meeting. However, if the meeting is being recorded for further use, there could be a lot more mileage in your blunder.
Avoid by treating the virtual meeting just like any other meeting and keeping video feeds front-of-screen.
A private message gone public on screen. Chat and instant messaging are built-in features of web conferencing systems like OmniJoin and it’s very tempting to use them for private chats with other participants. But it’s a rather dangerous game. The person you’ve sent the funny message about the presenter to might be about to share their screen – making your remark visible to everyone, or you could accidentally send it to the whole group instead of just one person.
Avoid by staying away from the private commentary. Keep the gossip offline - or to yourself!
Beyond our little tips and tricks, the best protection against web conferencing blunders is routine. Get yourself an account and practise – ideally with forgiving colleagues.
14 days free OmniJoin access can be found here.