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Videoconferencing: The Blooper Reel

In the previous post, we talked about how to raise your game when videoconferencing. How to be more professional, better prepared, more efficient. So, it occurred to us that highlighting some noteworthy videoconference disasters and faux pas featured in social media would be fun and illustrative. Many appear as videos, some as Tweets, and others in articles.

  • Be careful when planning a virtual meeting to warn other people in your household that you will be live on a call during a specific time. A young woman failed to do that, and her husband wandered into camera view during her business call wearing just his “tighty-whities.” Once he realized he was on camera, he tried to run out of sight but ran straight into a closed door and fell to the ground, stunned. This was not the impression the young businesswoman was hoping to make.

  • In a similar situation, a woman ran naked from her bathroom to get a towel from her linen closet. Unfortunately, she had to pass her husband’s open door, where, unbeknown to her, he was on a conference call with four colleagues. The husband’s next company social event was a little embarrassing.

  • Sometimes it takes more than letting people know you will be on a call. Like the woman working from home and on a sales call whose young daughter was on their dining-room table dancing in the background. Or the young child who wandered in front of the green screen asking for cookies. Don’t assume you will remain undisturbed; plan for it.

  • Calls involving larger groups can be dangerous because there is a sense of anonymity, especially if someone is more of an observer than a participant. Another classic social media video shows a woman who has muted her sound but forgotten to turn off her video when attending to a call of nature, which a dozen other people on the call all watched. Along the same lines, a Canadian politician got into trouble for doing something similar during an official government business meeting. In his case, he made the national news.

  • What you wear counts. A hilarious video shows a man getting up to grab a coffee, only to show he is wearing no pants. What made this particular example far worse was that he put his hands inside his underwear to scratch his butt. He had muted his audio, so a colleague had to call him by phone to tell him that they could see him. The panicked look on his face when he received the call and ran from the room was classic.

  • There is a classic video of a law court hearing where one of the attorneys accidentally, and without realizing it, activated a filter, turning him into a cat. The judge points this out to him, and the attorney tries to remove the filter. He assured the judge that it was him behind the feline mask, but the judge was not amused.

  • Many people don’t think they are “live” before the meeting begins, which explains why several early attendees sat and watched someone flossing their teeth while waiting for a Zoom session to start. The same is true for the end of the meeting. The meeting is not over until you sign out, as the man who got up after an important business meeting to reveal his colourful boxer shorts discovered when his boss called him out on his unprofessional wardrobe.

  • Finally, focus on the meeting, or you could find yourself in deep water. For example, this was the challenge a businessman faced when he decided to join a video conference call while driving. In his defence, he was primarily an observer listening to the meeting. Unfortunately, when he screamed at a driver, “This is not a >expletive< freeway!” his phone audio was not muted.

We hope these examples made you smile and help you avoid being part of someone’s blooper reel. On a serious note, they show how easy it is to fall foul of videoconference decorum and lose credibility with customers, colleagues, and your boss.

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