A Rant about Zoom Etiquette.

People! We’re seven months into the Zoompocalypse. Learn some friggin’ etiquette!

<rant>It happened to me yesterday, in a meeting with 25 people on the call. After seven solid months of endless Zoom calls, I finally snapped. I tried to reach through the screen and strangle some folks. I don’t recommend doing this — it hurt my hand. So let me suggest a few things that will make Life in the Time of Zoom a little better for all of us.

(1) Turn off your stupid alerts. Nobody wants to hear a ding every time you get an email, nobody wants to hear the special ring tone you have for your lover, nobody wants to hear incessant Slack notifications in the background while we’re trying to have a serious conversation. Turn that shit off. In Zoom preferences there’s a setting for “Silence system notifications”. That setting is there for a reason, people!

(2) Buy a damn microphone! I’ve had calls with “very important people” who seem clueless about how bad they sound speaking at their laptop in their kitchen. Buy an external mic or at least use a pair of $10 ear buds. Seriously, people, it makes a huge difference. You want to sound like a professional, not a drunk Boomer at the bottom of a barrel.

(3) The host is in charge of muting! We all agree that the most annoying thing about Zoom calls is background noise. Dogs barking, dishes being done, the gardener working outside the window, your roommates going at it in the next room. Zoom gives the host the power to control everyone’s microphone. Don’t waste everyone’s time pleading “whoever that is, can you mute? Please mute if you’re not speaking. Someone has some background noise, I don’t know who that is, please mute”. If you are the host of the meeting, your job to use your host controls to mute people and keep the meeting moving forward! A good host knows how to run a damn meeting, people!

(4) Check your technical issues before the call! How many times have we been in a big meeting and had to spend ten minutes listening to “Ok, now I can’t figure out how to share my screen. Can you see my screen now? Oh, wait, no that doesn’t work. How about now? Can you see my screen now? OK, Bob, you’re going to have to share your screen because I can’t figure out how to”. Just shoot me now. Seven months ago, when the Zoomapcolypse first happened, we needed to be patient with each other. Our patience is done now — stop acting like an amateur.

(5) Zoom puts a name tag on your screen image. Use it properly! If there are 25 people on a call and we’re having a discussion together, we want to be polite and use your name correctly. But when your Zoom name tag says “Bsmith” we have no idea what your name is. Barry? Brian? Bosworth? Come on, it’s not that hard; enter the name you would like people in the meeting to call you by. That Zoom feature is there for a reason. This isn’t difficult, people!

(6) We are so over cute virtual backgrounds. You want to be a professional participant in a meeting, not have everyone distracted by your Disneyland background. Cut that crap out. Also, no Sponge Bob. If you are worried about us seeing the dirty laundry stacked up behind you then please use a solid color virtual background. You know, like actual professionals do.

(7) Turn your camera on. I don’t trust people who join a call with their camera off. Period. That’s deep in our DNA — we mistrust someone who hides their face. Yes, sometimes I join a call with bed hair, and yes I sometimes turn off my camera when I take a bite of my sandwich, but only then. If you were sitting in a real-life conference room and someone walked into the meeting while hiding their face, you would be suspicious of that person, right? That’s how I feel about people who refuse to turn their camera on during Zoom meetings. I don’t trust them. It’s really rude.

Zoom meetings are here to stay. We can’t change that, but we can start expecting the same level of professionalism of each other that we expect in real life. Is that too much to ask? Seriously?</rant>

I’m a Silicon Valley guy. I teach entrepreneurship at Stanford, coach startup CEO’s at Miller Center, and run the 4thly Startup Accelerator. Also, I love tacos.

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