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Who Just Joined? Navigating Our New Conference Call Culture.

March 30, 2020
byJeffrey Davis inPublic Relations
Who Just Joined? Navigating Our New Conference Call Culture 1

By now we’re all experiencing how the coronavirus has altered traditional office operations. Business as usual is still achievable, but it requires a grasp of the nuances and etiquette for an essential tool: the video conference call.

No longer can we plop down around the conference room table and plow through the agenda. Basic body language cues that let others in the room know when to chime in are absent. We’re in new territory as we navigate the virtual meeting culture of Zoom, Google Hangouts and Teams.

However, this doesn’t mean a halt to your hustle.

Just last week, our entire team navigated a day of meetings and client work, including a full coronavirus-focused media training session on Zoom to prepare a client’s management team and spokesperson for media inquiries. Next it was a Washington Women in PR webinar where we shared covid-19 crisis communications PR plan strategies. We closed out the week as part of a Zoom business discussion with more than a dozen PR firm owners from across the U.S.

We’re all remote, all the time and it hasn’t slowed us down, as this is no time to let your guard down when it comes to protecting your reputation.

Who Just Joined? Navigating Our New Conference Call Culture 2Tips for Playing “Conference Call BINGO”
Amidst all the seriousness, it’s also a good time to check in on your video meeting etiquette and moxie. Conference Call Bingo provides reminders of best practices and may even trip up your most veteran of call conveners.

Here are a few tips to get started:

Can Everyone Please Mute?
This should be a no-brainer, but plenty of people still hop on a call oblivious to the heavy breathing, barking dog, quarantined kids and clunky keyboard strokes creating a cacophony of background noise. Calm the sound storm and use that mute button.

OK, Let’s Get Started
The meeting invite says 2 p.m., so head toward the “please dial your conference code now…” process by 1:58 p.m. to stay on schedule. That way, the awkward small talk and late arrivals aren’t eating into your precious time. You wouldn’t show up late to an in-person meeting (would you?), so the same manners apply.

Hi, Who Just Joined?Who Just Joined? Navigating Our New Conference Call Culture 3
In a grid of faces reminiscent of the Brady Bunch title screen, the constant barrage of new additions to a call can be overwhelming. When you finally press “pound” at 2:10 p.m. we can all hear the ding announcing your arrival. Give a brief hello and let the call keep moving.

Now just relax in your P.J. bottoms, enjoy the call and discretely fill your Bingo card with every “win-win,” “granular” and “hard stop” you hear.

Mastered the conference call basics and want to flex your video call savvy?

Here are some advanced features:

Work on That Glow:
Ditch the unflattering back-lit glare and consider using a ring light to achieve the optimal video look. Zoom offers a retouch feature, adjusting to “soft focus” and “smooth skin tone” to present a more polished looking appearance, even while under quarantine. To activate this feature, go to Settings, and under the Video tab, check the box next to Touch up my appearance.

Play a Game:
Get colleagues more engaged with calls by playing a version of I-Spy. For instance, when someone touches their face, the first person to note it in the comments scores a point – also helps us follow those coronavirus prevention tips!

Try the Virtual Background Feature:
As fascinating as it might be to see the inner walls of our coworkers’ homes, Teams has “background blur” while Zoom offers up wallpapers that transform the cluttered shelf and unused treadmill into a tropical scene or tidy room. Also, a great place to create-your-own to show-off company branding and design. You can find this tool in Settings, too.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

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