April 3, 2020


Crystal Washington: Hello, I’m Crystal Washington technology strategist and futurist.

Karen McCullough: I’m Karen McCullough and I get people excited about change and working with millennials and today, we want you to rethink it forward

Crystal Washington: and by rethinking it forward, what we mean is the fact that there are things that have worked for in the past that are not going to work for you in the future. And if we’re, to be really honest, they’re probably not working for you right now anymore, either.

Karen McCullough: No. So today, crystal, we’re going to talk about tips on conference calls and zoom calls. Yeah. You’re the expert on this.

Crystal Washington: Well, yes, but I think we should open with probably a story because I’m going to get into all the techie stuff.

Karen McCullough: I have one.

Crystal Washington: Yeah, let’s go. Let’s, let’s start off with a story.

Karen McCullough: Well, I do do a lot of zoom calls, so I have stories, but nothing is as funny as this one. I got a call the other day from a really good friend of mine who works for a university here in Houston, and they’re the video department of this and they’re all millennials. He’s a Gen-Xer.  He’s not the manager, he’s just ahead of the team. And then they have a manager and so they’re starting, they’re all working from home. And they had their first zoom call and he called me hysterical. He said, first of all, he’d never seen 20 people on a zoom screen before, you know, it looks like the Brady bunch, only everybody’s there. But he started telling me about what he saw and he cracked me up. These are very, very creative. So these are creatives. And he said one guy who was brand new to the team, brand new, he has like platinum blonde hair.

Karen McCullough: He has a very spiky, very white, that white-blonde hair. And he said his computer was set up in his living room or his dining room, whatever room it was. It was black. The whole room was black and he had a light on. He was wearing a tank top, low cut brick. I tanked up and shorts. And uh, Mike told me that he had the computer set right down in between his legs. It was bad. And Mike kept looking. He said it was very distracting. And the CEO, the CEO is panicking and he’s calling the manager, he’s calling her on the phone and she had to stop the call and she had to call him and tell him to go dress appropriately. So what we’re seeing right now is too much information, too much information. There needs to be some rules, right on how to have a zoom call or a conference call. So I thought you are the expert. Give us some guidelines crystal.

Crystal Washington: Okay, so rule number one, where are the clothes you would normally wear to work? So like right now, I know, right, right now we’re not pajamas to show you what not to do. So I’m actually, I’m going to take off my pajamas and be back in my normal

Karen McCullough: Hello. Oh, okay. Okay. You don’t want to see what’s under here.

Crystal Washington: well uh, wrong kind of show, wrong kind of show. Um, so make sure that you’re wearing something that you would wear to the office. So I’ll give you an example. Know my nephew is eight years old. They just started these remote digital classes, these school districts trying to pull it together to make sure the kids are being educated every single day. And so he’s going through his classes via webinar for each different segment. And I think he has, even though he’s eight years old, there’s seven of them. He even has PE on zoom. Um, true story, but he has to wear his uniform every single day or it counts against him. So if an eight-year-old child can have the wherewithal to get themselves together and dress a certain way according to standards, we can do the same thing, right?

Crystal Washington: No, no. Just make sure you’re wearing what you would normally wear to work, whatever. After that, we talk about dress. Here’s another one. Okay. Before you get on that call, I need you to look around you. Okay? See, see what’s it say what’s in the environment? Because there are people getting on conference calls right now. I’ve actually seen, I’ve seen this myself where there are bruises in the background or underoos truths. I’ve seen that. These things. Okay. Make sure that you look around you and you see what’s there. Okay? Make sure that you don’t have cats and dogs and babies climbing everywhere. Make sure that to the best of your ability, you set it up as if you are in an office and this is a professional environment, right? Um, so outside of dress and environment, let’s talk about tech. Okay? The first thing you need is a decent computer.

Crystal Washington: If your computer is ancient, good luck getting it to work. When it comes to any type of conference software, whether it’s WebEx, whether it’s a go-to-meeting webinar, whether it’s zoom, whatever it is if you have an ancient computer, you’re already set up for fail number one, right? Um, number two, make sure that you have a decent camera. So for some of us, you might have a PC that’s a decent PC, but the camera isn’t that great. And so you might have to order one that plugs into the USB drive. So like right now you’re actually not seeing me through the camera that’s on my laptop. It’s a Logitech. The clip clips onto it. For some of you, maybe when it comes to expenses, cause we have had past episodes where we talk about saving expenses. You might want to use your smart devices, your iPhone, your iPad, your Samsung.

Crystal Washington: Some of them have much better cameras than your, than PCs mic. Actually, most of them do actually. And so if you’re going to use that and make sure you have it set up on a tripod or some type of stand so that it’s at the right level, what you don’t want to do is have it set up on a table facing up. People see up your nose. I’ve seen that on so many calls. It’s gross. Yeah. And plus no one wants to see under our chins. Okay. None of our chins look good from that angle. I don’t care what shape you’re in. Okay. So get it so that it’s high enough where people can see you. I don’t care if you have to stack books to get it where you need it, but make sure it’s at a good level. Okay. Outside of that, you want a good microphone.

Crystal Washington: So whether that’s, you know, your earbuds that’s plugged in there, whether it’s into your laptop, whatever it is, make sure you have something that’s going to get rid of all that ambient noise and the other things going on around you. Um, you know, if you have a barking dog, people don’t want to hear Fido. Okay? Like people might say, Oh look, it’s fine now. I assure you most of them are being nice. They don’t, that’s their nice way of saying, will you shut your dog up? Okay, so, so make sure that you’re canceling out as much noise as possible and then also make sure that you have a good internet connection. We already talked about the home office on a, on a past episode, and so wired tends to be better, but whatever you’re using, wired or wi-fi, make sure that you have a good strong internet connection. And then lastly, I’ll just give you just one big piece of etiquette before Karen kind of gives some more tips as well. Mute yourself when you’re talking.

Crystal Washington: yeah, always mute yourself when you’re not talking, because no matter what, there’s always people that don’t realize how much noise is going on behind them. Maybe they answer a phone call, they forget they’re on the call now they’re talking. You don’t want to be that person. Speaking of forgetting, actually, I give a bonus one for you. I usually do not do conference calls. Karen, I’ll share this with you except for my laptop. I don’t actually like to do them on a smart device. A mobile. The reason why is it’s too easy to forget. That’s you’re actually on a conference call. So there’s this video circulating right now, the zoom of this woman named poor gin who was on a business conference call who went potty, forgot her camera was on

Karen McCullough: You always have the greatest story?

Crystal Washington: Sure. Well, they can actually look this up. You can find this yourself. I’m not making this one up. And when people on the calls are saying, Oh my gosh, poor Jen, Oh no. She realizes what’s happening. And you see the phone like tumble. It’s like she slapped it, right, but you’ve already seen her on the potty, right? So if you’re absent-minded, maybe stay to a PC because you know you’re not going to go potty in front of your PC.

Karen McCullough: Thank you. If you were Jen’s manager and you had to give her a call, this is what’s going on right now. It’s an entirely different environment. We are putting managers and leaders and directors under so much pressure because now they have to manage a totally different environment. So you, when you’re on a call, like we’re on a zoom call right now when you’re at a call, there’s a host. Many times the host is not the manager. The host can give instructions. So when the call comes on or when the zoom comes on, he can say, or she can say, everyone, please, we can start being courteous by muting your microphone. And if you want to speak, you know, raise your hand. There’s a little hand raise thing on zoom. We can begin to do it that way. The challenges, there are many people right now who are pretty extroverted and like talking and they overcome.

Karen McCullough: They overtake the entire conference. And so we’ve got to really be careful as hosts and as managers to give other people a chance to talk. And introverts, this is a good chance for them to hideout. Like they can go, man, I’m going the whole day without saying anything. So there’s an added really we’ve got to have, there’s an added extra piece to managing right now. And that piece is etiquette. It’s also how are we going to communicate, how are we going to control the communication and how are we going to keep everybody engaged? You know, it’s really easy to look over at your phone. It’s really easy to pretend you’re looking there and pretty soon you’re reading something. So we’re going to have to keep them engaged. So this is going to be totally new skills and we’re all going to have to work on it.

Crystal Washington: Well, and I think part of keeping them engaged, Karen, is making sure that we set up these conference calls or these webinars correctly. So you talked about at the beginning about setting standards, about meeting yourself, but also maybe even saying, you know what? So we have 45 minutes for this meeting. We have a lot of things we’re going to cover. So what we’re going to do today to make sure that everyone has a chance to share very valuable information is I’m going to start off meeting everybody and then as I go through certain points, I’m going to call on the individual departments responsible. And I’m going to ask you to keep your answers brief at 60 seconds or beneath. That way we have enough time for everybody. And if I cut you off, I’m not being rude, I’m just making sure we have time. So already letting them know you’re willing to cut them off ensures you don’t have to cut them off cause it’ll be free. And then you could say, and at the very end, we’re going to open it up for general discussion. So then that’s when your chatty Kathy’s get a chance to say everything they wanted to say, but it’s at the very end and it’s time’s almost up anyway. So I think that’s a big piece of it being not being afraid to, to really manage.

Karen McCullough: Right. And the last piece on engagement, you know, they’re in zoom, there are breakout rooms. So use the breakout rooms, get people to talk to each other, get them comfortable with the technology and comfortable they’re going to feel like they’ve accomplished something if they have a good zoom call. So people are, uh, this could be a very, very inspiring, very motivational part of your meeting if you can get them to talk to each other

Crystal Washington: well, and then just making sure that everybody has fun. You know, Carrie, you’re talking about getting to talk to each other. Don’t be afraid to be a little silly. Being professional does not mean being void of personality. Right. I think one of the cutest examples I heard of recently is a friend actually came onto a conference call. He, he had someone introduce him so the screen wasn’t sharing his screen yet. So he’s like, Oh. And our next person that’s going to be talking is, and then when his screen turned on, he was spraying Lysol. So it looked like smoke and then he slid in front of it on his chair and people cracked up laughing. So we can make this fun. You know? And in fact, I’d say that, you know, when you are speaking to someone through a computer, you have to project more energy to get excited.

Karen McCullough: You have to go open your eyes, give them a look. Yeah. You really have to do things to keep the game going. Yeah.

Crystal Washington: Don’t make it as fun as possible. Don’t be afraid to be a little silly, professional, silly, but don’t be afraid to be a little professional, silly, and just have fun because we’re all in this thing together. This is whilst for some of you, this isn’t new. The level with which we’re all doing this type of communication is new for all of us. And so as long as we’re in this together, let’s make it fun, and let’s make sure that we’re enjoying our time together.

Karen McCullough: Don’t wear your pajamas. I’m going to go change. I’ll see you guys later.