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…

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* 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.