We’ve all been doing this video conferencing thing for a few months now. What have we all learned?

Keep your face away from the screen

You know that peephole in your front door? The one you look through to see who just knocked? It has a fish-eye effect that makes objects seem closer than they actually are. When the person outside stands just a little too close to the door all you can see is their gigantic face. That’s what it’s like for the rest of us when your face is right in front of the camera.

If for some reason you need to see what is on your screen there are simpler ways than leaning in and creeping out your fellow attendees.

For instance, the word zoom can have multiple definitions. The first definition is fast. As in “Zoom is a fast way to connect with coworkers.” Another definition is to go from a long shot to a close shot in a camera or document, eg, “Zoom in on what you are looking at while using Zoom so you don’t need to strain yourself to read things.”

If you’re guilty of the classic Zoom Lean, don’t feel bad. Tons of people have done it and your fellow meeting members will let you know you’re doing it with their own Zoom Lean Away body language.

Don’t sit in the same room as other people on the call.

From time to time you’ll have a video call and some of the attendees may be people who are in the same room as you. Even if you enjoy their company this is your perfect opportunity to not be in the same room as them.

What happens when you are in the same room as another person from the same call is what we imagine the world sounds like to bats. Echos. Echos everywhere.

Someone talks, it goes through your speakers, enters the microphone of the person nearby, escapes through your speakers once again and on and on and on. Each time the cycle occurs the quality of the sound decreases exponentially into what we can only imagine the 8th circle of Hell sounds like.

So for the sake of your fellow attendees and their auditory environments please do not attend a video meeting with someone sitting next to you.

One person per screen.

Similar to attending a video call with someone else nearby, you might be tempted to fit two bodies into one square. Attempting this feat typically leads to two outcomes:

  1. An uncomfortably limited amount of personal space you will have to reckon with long after the call is complete. Either one of you will feel uncomfortable about being shoulder to shoulder or one of the other meeting attendees will be.
  2. The other people on the call are not going to able to clearly see your faces trying to fit into one square and they will be guilty of breaking the first rule we discussed: the Zoom Lean.

In the future, and with any luck, we won’t have to attend as many video call meetings as we currently are. We can come together in person and have a whole new list of social norms to contend with. But keep these rules in mind when that time comes. They will still apply.