• Bill Petrie

This Blog Could've Been a Zoom Call

And aren't you glad it isn't?

It’s Labor Day, which usually signals the traditional beginning of autumn. That’s right, all of you pumpkin spiced latte lovers out there no longer need to feel shame for quaffing your potpourri-flavored calorie bombs in a summer month, but I digress.

As Labor Day approaches, I usually look forward to a day off from work filled with family, friends, a few beers, and likely some smoked or barbecued meat. This year, I’ve added to that list: I am genuinely pumped to have a weekday free of Zoom meetings. Today, I won’t fire up the video camera, check my background, or make sure my lighting has the correct hue to accent my balding dome – and I will enjoy every second of it.

My sense is you’re nodding your head in agreement as I’m writing something that most everyone is thinking. After 3,201,337 video conferencing meetings of one sort or another during the past six months, I have full-on Zoom fatigue. Like many of you, I suspect it wasn’t always this way so let’s take a trip back in time – all the way back to April of 2020.

I’m sure you remember it, although not likely fondly, as the realities of COVID-19 laid waste to life as everyone knew it, and the world forever changed. There were mass corporate layoffs and furloughs, sporting events at every level canceled, schools closing sending millions of students home to be homeschooled alongside their working (if they were lucky) parents, and everyone discovered – and harnessed – the power of video conferencing.

At first, it was a fantastic way to create a human connection in a crazy time when all of us had to shelter in place. Then came the first virtual happy hour, the weekly staff Zoom meetings, the second virtual happy hour, the video team lunches, the third virtual happy hour, and the meetings about how often to hold the weekly staff Zoom meetings. Then add the folks who love continually playing with their virtual backgrounds (admission: I was that guy for a while), people who don’t realize they are on mute, the ones who need to be on mute because they are ordering Chipotle from Door Dash during the meeting, and the humans who just can’t seem to understand the correct angle for video. Hint: top - good, chin - bad.

Joking aside, we are overusing Zoom and video conferencing much in the same way we can be “meetinged to death.” This isn’t to say that Zoom meetings are bad – they aren’t. Heck, we use them regularly at brandivate to connect both internally and externally with our clients and the occasional virtual happy hours are fantastic! However, we try to be judicious with them and show discretion about when to have and not to have Zoom calls.

Just because we have the technology to pop into everyone’s home workspace doesn’t mean that privilege needs to be abused. So, as your friendly guide, here are a few tips and thoughts as you think about asking your co-workers or clients to have a video meeting instead of using the phone (or an email):

  • Video meetings before 11:00 AM on Mondays and after 3:00 PM on Fridays absolutely stink

  • Ask yourself if a phone call would suffice. Remember, pre-COVID, we were all very content to have phone conversations with clients when we couldn’t see them

  • Most people eat lunch at their desks, so skip the Zoom while they are noshing

  • Save the Zoom meeting for essential things: presentations, when screens need to be shared, or when the topic is of a sensitive nature

  • Don’t attend more than one virtual happy hour a day (again, guilty)

More than anything, before requesting a video meeting, ask yourself is it necessary to see that person. In some cases, it might be critical to do precisely that. However, much like meetings that could’ve been handled in an email, not every conference call requires virtual face to face interaction.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go and do a whole lot of nothing.

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