Video Teleconference “Do’s and Don’ts”

Unfortunately, this is likely to be the first of a series…. i genuinely could not make this shit up

For those who haven’t suffered the joy that is the video teleconference (VTC), let me explain.  In a noble effort to save precious travel funding, and exploit benefits of modern technology, many organizations have invested in high quality VTC equipment*. 

This is a good thing.  Unlike face-to-face meetings, there are mute buttons.  If you can maintain the physical pretense that you are paying attention, you hit your “mute” button and completely zone out**, reflect upon the last time you exchanged body fluids with an attractive human, or fantasize about stabbing a windbag colleague with a spork (and naturally, plotting your subsequent escape… or frame your defense testimony should it go to trial.)***.

For “multi-site” VTC’s, participants often see two screens – one showing presentation materials, and one showing thumbnail video screens for each site “attending”.  Current technology will place the feed for the “active” site in a larger window, where the active site is the one where someone last spoke to other participants.

During a recent multi-party VTC, i witnessed the unthinkable.  A Senior Leader (ie: someone in a position of authority who makes a grotesque amount of money) was the lone attendee from his site, using a VTC camera from his office.  His feed, therefore, showed a closeup of his face to the rest of us.  Other sites?  Conference rooms, showing participants at a distance which barely made determination of hair color, gender and basic body shape possible.

The Senior Leader made several comments at the start of the meeting – none of them pertinent to the discussion (complaining that he couldn’t see this, couldn’t hear that, didn’t get read ahead materials, etc.), thus establishing his feed as the “active” feed. 

As a result, the giant screen in my conference room showed a 6′ diameter image of this man’s face to all in the room, with several smaller video thumbnails at the periphery.  There were approximately 50 people in my conference room. 

i was, however, the only one to laugh out loud when Senior Leader inserted his index finger into his left nostril.  Up to and including the second knuckle.  Audible groans resonated throughout, though, when he added the “twist” maneuver.  We all looked away in anticipation of the extraction, and subsequent inspection of, “the kill”.

i need to get started with bartending school… i am not long for this domain…


* think webcam.  multiply cost by 1,000.

** i am the queen of “pretend note taking”.  laptop out, glancing up periodically with a thoughtful look on my face feigning interest, then back to whatever random item i’m writing… i know i’m not fooling anyone, but it makes me feel better.

*** there is danger.  you can be asked a question and not know it.  this is awkward.  when you look up and find that every other site is looking at their VTC camera, and expectantly awaiting your answer… must buy time, blame poor audio and ask them to repeat the question… oh, and don’t forget to calmly hit the “un-mute” button or you’ll look like even more of a doofus.

18 thoughts on “Video Teleconference “Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. Ohh, I remember that post nurse. Won’t go back, if you don’t mind…

    First thing that came to mind was BB, 1984 and all that. In your next installment, do we have a Two Minutes Hate?

  2. “…pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain…”

    So, when you use the term “Leader”, you’re being facetious, right?

    love to hate VTCs. my worst experience with one was when we thought the mute button was on and the entire room was making disparaging comments about the lineage of the speaker, his lack of intellect, etc., only to find out he heard it all… the mute button operator (not me) was henceforth banned…

  3. It’s like people in traffic. Don’t they realise that windows have one inalienable characteristic…they’re seethrough.

    The questions is, did you tape it and put it on YouTube?

  4. silverstar – it was a scratch! a scratch!

    mark p.s. – thank you! wish i were making it up. truly wish i were…

    DP – my preference (still) is to walk fast carrying a clipboard. if you paste a stern look on your face, you can gain access to just about any facility. add a white labcoat and it works in hospitals, too!

    kyknoord – yeaaaaaaargh! it’s bad enough we have the “denziens of dump” swapping Physics Today and Science outside the shitter…

    alex – i was afraid to keep watching. terrified that he’d pull out a brain globule…

    nm – she’s hired. her delusions of mystery people planting hair in her nasal passages are more lucid than anything i heard uttered by Dr. Nose…

    ian – Welcome to The Park! Yes, with the giant face on the screen, it’s reminiscent of BB. i was well beyond 2 minutes 🙂 Gotta admit, until he proceeded with the excavations, it was fun to watch him squinching up his face, leaning forward into his computer monitor to read the fine print.

    gnu – wish i were (sigh). My posse and i are paranoid regarding the mute button. Even covering our mouths before sniping to thwart any lip-readers in VTC-land. and yes, it makes this Woman Wonder…

    dolce – unfortunately, there is no video. i’m not sure i could watch again, although slow motion might be a bit like a train wreck. hard to look away… i’ve also been amazed at the cloak of invisibility provided by car windows… just don’t get it…

  5. Fucking hilarious, df! How the hell does anyone get a finger up his nose all the way to the second knuckle without pushing through the cranium into the brain cavity?! I guess the upside to your experience is that it wasn’t in 3D… 🙂

  6. From Caddyshack:

    Porterhouse: Fifty bucks says the Smails kid picks his nose.
    Lou: You’re on.
    Porterhouse: All right, kid, take your time.
    [Spaulding picks his nose]
    Lou: Double or nothing he eats it.
    Porterhouse: Don’t do it, kid!
    [Spaulding eats it]
    Porterhouse: That kid will eat anything!
    Lou: He was hungry.

    So, did your Senior Leader…um…eat it after picking?

  7. Did he not remember that his giant head was on display (pronounce “head” the way Mike Myers does in Axe Murderer)?

    Yuck! I think I would have sent him a email reminder for next time.

  8. totally beats out my boss adjusting cleavage during a “team building” vtc for her 10 telcom techs….being the only girl in the tech department, I have to say that I was surprised at the repulsion of my fellows and delighted that we’d remembered to keep the mute on and had a full 30seconds to hoot jokes.

  9. Daisyfae,

    Face it. You are jealous. He can stick half of his finger up his nose and you have to watch it. He probably did it just to show that he could, can and will do it with reckless abandon. The next VTC, he maybe doing other grotesque and unimaginable things. He’s the king and you are his minions. I think that 50 of you in your next VTC, should on your count, stick your finger up your nose and provide a finger in your other hand to signify that he is #1 !. I think you will win lots of kudos for that by bringing Mr. Big Stuff down to reality. Are you with me??? I want to hear what he says when you implement.

  10. toby – Oooh! 3-D VTC?!? That’s pretty brilliant… well, if you remove the nose-pickers from the equation!

    rob – we were all averting our eyes. this is not an attractive man… not that anyone looks good whilst excavating body cavities. don’t wanna know don’t wanna know don’t wanna know!

    annie – found out later, while sharing the story with my boss, that this Senior Leader also lost his pants at an executive retreat! story goes that he was yakking on his cell phone while on break, his pants fell to the ankles, revealing his boxers, and rather than hang up, he did the one-armed pant-yoga attempting to pull them back. Amazing. even if i did tell him, i doubt it would register…

    jenuine – Welcome to The Park! THAT’S a new one! Cleavage adjustment? Hard to imagine, but that’s probably worse than nose-picking!

    uncle keith – IT WAS A SCRATCH! it’s all about the angle…

    squirrelqueen – we are now making book on how long until this one announces his “retirement”, which is often code for “F.I.R.I.N.G.” in our world…

    cincygrad – you, sir, are absolutely correct. he could have done the same maneuver with his ass and never suffered the consequences! perhaps being sent to counseling at worst… i like your concept for the 50-Booger Salute. Shall i dial you up when we implement? will you organize your minions to offer lugubious nasal honoraria?

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