Believe it or not, joining a video conference call from home doesn’t always have to make you feel like an idiot. Yes, it’s a God-awful communication medium for sure, but in it are some great avenues to appear smart. Just use the expectations of broken technology, lack of transparency, and your colleagues’ own personal insecurities, in order to come out on top. Here are my ten favorite tricks for appearing smart in video conference calls.
1. Move the web browser directly beneath your camera
This way you can appear to be staring at the meeting when in fact you’re reading E! News.
2. Pay attention to the scenery
What’s behind you? If it’s not a row of books about leadership, posters covered with your company’s flagship product logos, or a trendy brick wall, then you’re missing out on a big opportunity to appear smart.
3. Eat something
Grab a salad or a slice of pizza during the call. Tell everyone this is the only chance you have to eat lunch but didn’t want to miss the call. This will make you seem busy and dedicated. Eating also gives you a great excuse for not being able to chime in very much. As long as your mouth is full and your head is nodding, you’ll seem like you’re contributing as best you can.
4. Say you’re in India
Let everyone know you’re dialing in from London, Bangalore, Sydney, or any city where it’s amazing that you’d be awake at this hour. Your dedication to the company will overwhelm everyone with guilt. And, although it’s better if you’re not lying, no one ever really remembers where anyone is anyway so it probably won’t matter.
5. Ask if you can share your screen, then say it’s not working
Tell everyone that you have something important to share that might help the conversation, then make everyone wait for 5 minutes while you try to get it to work. Give up after about 7 minutes and say you’ll share it through email after the meeting. This will let you go back to what’s really on your screen (E! News).
6. ‘Accidentally’ mute yourself
Accidentally mute yourself, then start going on and on about something. They can’t hear you so you could be talking about last night’s episode of Homeland or how you really feel about Twitter, it doesn’t matter. After about a minute, pretend to realize that you were on mute, unmute yourself, then say that you were just echoing what the last person said.
7. Pretend to freeze
It may sound like a game, and it is. Pretending to freeze as result of a poor connection will completely derail the meeting and give you an opportunity to silently enjoy the chaos. Observe how everyone stops, tries in vain to make you aware of your frozenness, and talks about you like you’re not there, complaining that you work from home too much.
Re-animate whenever they fully resume the meeting without you, which will once again throw them off.
8. Get your kids or pet on the call
Giving everyone a glimpse of your busy home life will make them appreciate your contributions all the more. Hold your baby while on the call, or feed your dog a snack. The adorable little distraction will make you seem authentic, like you really care.
9. Play around with video effects
While the notes are being reviewed aloud, don a clown face or fancy top hat. This will give everyone a case of uncontrollable giggles, and drive the time-nazis and note-takers crazy. But if anyone else decides to do the same thing, scold them for wasting time.
10. Suggest a follow up when everyone’s in the same place
Nothing makes everyone feel more like the meeting was worth it, than ending by saying it would be good to follow up when everyone’s in the same place. Thank everyone for their time and wave goodbye as you take a last bite of your salad.
If you enjoyed this, sign up for my free weekly email for more smart tricks.