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Video Conferencing Dos and Don'ts

Posted on March 26, 2020
Tabby cat sitting on a laptop keyboard

Millie hard at work, assisting Goodwin's communications manager.

I am sure many of you have seen some of the recent video conferencing mishaps that are floating around after the last week with so many folks suddenly working from home. From pets making guest appearances to professionals opting for pajamas, we’ve all enjoyed a few extra laughs from viral Zoom flubs. As a result, I thought I would write about how to avoid your fifteen minutes of internet fame.


  • Wear clothes – not sure how people seemed to have forgotten they didn’t put on a pair of pants
  • Check your background – some people have, let’s say, interesting choices in art
  • Check the lighting – if you sit with a window to your back, it is likely those on the call will only see your silhouette, and this is work, not Dateline
  • Use the video – during these times when we are all practicing safe distancing, or in many of our cases, on a full lockdown, other attendees want to see your face, but remember to comb your hair
  • Mute your microphone when you are not talking to avoid background noise – shuffling papers will sound very loud and no one wants to hear your significant other belting out Bohemian Rhapsody from the shower


  • Wear your PJs – while working from home might typically involve those comfy flannels, you need to wear something you would, at a minimum, go to the grocery store in – but no one will notice you’re wearing your Wookie slippers unless you plan on doing handstands
  • Forget you have a pet – pets are cute and cuddly, but they can be disruptive to a video conference call, so make sure your dog is settled and cat is taking her morning or afternoon nap elsewhere. Clearly, you can’t control your dog’s need to protect you from the robber disguised as a UPS delivery person…
  • Hold your meeting in your bed – does this really need further explanation? Could become and HR nightmare…just sayin’
  • Move around – beside the obvious, like tripping over your sleeping dog, watching you move about your house or apartment is distracting to others
  • If you share your screen, please keep the mouse in its house unless absolutely necessary — When you move the mouse about, it can make the entire screen look like it is moving and again, it can make people feel a little motion sick. Also, make sure your desktop is free of clutter and potential IM messages – you never know what your group text might send you…
  • Use the bathroom – You think I don’t need to mention this, well I do (the internet never forgets) –always remember when the camera is on, folks

During this period, however long it may be, practice patience. Not everyone is adept at video conferencing and it is okay to chuckle when a cat tail swipes across the screen or a dog jumps in into someone’s lap. We will all get the hang of this, but it may take a couple of weeks – and that is okay. Just remember to think about how others will see and engage with you, so you don’t become the next video sensation for the wrong reasons.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.


Anne Converse Willkomm

Assistant Clinical Professor

Department Head of Graduate Studies

Posted in interpersonal-communications