You’re on Mute! How to Crush Virtual Meetings

You’re on Mute! How to Crush Virtual Meetings

“A party without alcohol is just a meeting.” Anonymous

Reminiscent of the “You’ve got mail” from decades ago, “You’re on mute” is today’s oft-repeated Zooming phrase mouthed (while frantically pointing to mouth or ear) to someone whose lips are moving with no audio. Other virtual meeting gaffes and time-wasters include forgetting to mute, fumbling to share content, trying to get the microphone to work, forgetting to admit people into the meeting, debating who has control of the meeting, showing off pets, using distracting virtual backgrounds, and multiple people speaking at once. Followed, of course, by “You go,” then “No, you go,” then silence, then multiple people speaking again.

Some of our favorite stories from the internet:

“I was just on a Zoom call that ended automatically after 40 minutes because the organizer was on a free tier. This is the single greatest advance to meeting productivity I have ever seen. Would pay extra for this feature.” (Phil Libin)

“My boss turned herself into a potato . . . and [couldn’t] figure out how turn the setting off, so she was stuck like this the entire meeting.” (Rachele with an e but pronounced Rachel)

“Got a on video call with all managers, directors, and VP of my department. Went to take a drink and realized the cup I’m using says ‘I Love INTERCOURSE.’” (Novelty item from an Intercourse, PA gift shop) (Bex runs it)

Bob Slater CaricatureI was on a Zoom call with ten people recently when someone on the call said, “What is that noise?” It was my English Bulldog, Winnie, sacked out at my feet and snoring loudly. I raced to mute but was outed by someone on the call. My faux pas was soon trumped, however, when an elderly spouse delivered a cup of coffee to his wife with no shirt and too short shorts.

Perhaps a refresher is in order. Although we’ve all been meeting virtually for some time now, lots of folks seemingly have yet to master the basics of presenting themselves in the best virtual meeting manner. Here is some advice from someone who knows what she’s doing. Karin Reed was teaching zoom and similar video conference techniques to companies like Lenovo, SAS Institute and Teva Pharmaceuticals (and to students at Stanford and Duke) long before there was such a thing as Covid-19. Here are a few of Karin’s Zoom tips:

  • Treat the virtual meet as if you were meeting in person (focus)
  • Make sure your background is clean and uncluttered (we say no virtual backgrounds)
  • Put your lighting in front of your camera (and not behind you) so your face is bright
  • Wear solids, other than black or white, and clothes that contrast with your backdrop
  • Minimize background noise (family, pets, leaf blower, other)
  • Set up your seating to be both comfortable and flattering
  • Sit squarely in the frame and talk to the camera
  • Remember you are always on camera!

For everyone’s sake, here’s to better Zooming. Good luck out there!

Notes and sources: Find Karin Reed on LinkedIn or at


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