Zoom and video conferencing systems have proved invaluable in recent times, with many of us working from home and unable to meet face to face. We’re only human, and things can go wrong from time to time but when things go wrong on video, there’s always the chance it can go viral! We’ve rounded up some of our favourite Zoom fails and our top tips on how to avoid them!
We’ve all heard the phrase never work with animals or children, but the new normal leaves us with little option! Sky News reporter Deborah Haynes was recently interrupted live on air by her son asking ‘’Mummy, can I have two biscuits?’’, and Dr Clare Wenham attempted to explain local lockdowns to Christian Fraser and BBC News viewers despite her daughter arriving waving a drawing of a unicorn, and interrupting the interview asking ‘’Mummy, what’s his name?!’’ It can feel embarrassing when your kids disturb you, you have to apologise for your dog barking, or your partner bursts in with a brew, but these little blips have given us all something to smile about, broken down barriers and added a more human element to the corporate world. Remember, we’ve all been there! Think about your set up, consider your background, lighting and how you would manage any possible distractions before you go live - and if that means giving your kids two biscuits, then so be it!
It’s important to remember that Zoom meetings are just as formal as face to face meetings. Getting dressed for work does wonders for your productivity, but can also ensure you’re not caught short by an impromptu video call! We’ve all seen the memes about business on the top and pjs on the bottom, but you might not be able to stay sitting down for the entire call, so it’s better to be prepared! Arrive on time, dressed, prepared and ready to engage.
We recently got a new insight into Parish council meetings, as tempers boiled over and people were swiftly booted out of the meeting by Jackie Weaver. We hope that meetings as fiery as Handforth Parish’s are few and far between, but it is really important to maintain control and keep all attendees engaged. Avoid inviting too many people, think about who really needs to be there to ensure the call is as productive and efficient as possible. Assign a host who can keep things under control. Work through a pre-planned agenda, allowing time for people to ask questions, and ensure that all speakers know their part of the presentation so that there are no awkward silences or misunderstandings!
Beware of Zoom-bombers
If you set up a Zoom meeting without the appropriate security measures, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to ‘’Zoom bombing’’, where uninvited attendees hijack your meeting and can share controversial and unprofessional content for all to see! Boris Johnson accidentally shared the Zoom ID for a Cabinet Meeting on Twitter back in March, when he unknowingly screenshotted the screen. Luckily, Boris had a lucky escape as the meeting was password protected, but that didn’t stop hackers from trying to enter! We recommend keeping password protection on, and avoiding sharing details or the meeting link in public forums. You can also lock the meeting once all attendees are online, this way any latecomers will be placed in a waiting room so that you can view their profile before admitting them.
Know your software
The purr-fect Zoom fail! Lawyer Rod Ponton fell foul of the filter, when he arrived for court proceedings, as a kitten! The judge hilariously suggested that Rod ‘’may’’ have a filter on, as his colleague put on his glasses and leaned forward in disbelief. Rod accepted the humiliation and explained he was ‘’prepared to go forward with it’’ before stating ‘’I’m here live, I’m not a cat!’’. And the filter fails don’t stop there! Rachele Clegg shared a hilarious screenshot of her Microsoft Teams meeting, where her boss was stuck as a potato for the entire meeting. Just spudtacular! The only way to avoid a filter fail is to get to know your operating system. Make sure you know how to hide your video, mute your audio and share your screen. Many virtual conferencing systems offer filters and virtual backgrounds, so it’s worth knowing what’s available even if that’s just so you can avoid setting them off accidentally!