The Zoomerview: Fido Be Gone

The other day I watched a brilliant CEO deliver an investor meeting interview on Zoom. You know the kind I mean: 20 minutes or so, questions about a product launch, impact to the market, etc. The CEO was well prepared, offering well-crafted sound bites and compelling data and ideas. In contrast, the interviewer asked great questions but his digital body language completely detracted from the segment.


Throughout the conversation, the host was looking everywhere but the camera–and that means everywhere but at this guest. He glanced down to look at his phone, a monitor over his left shoulder (not quite directly behind him, but a huge pivot away from the speaker), and what I presume was himself on the screen.

The impact:  I can only imagine how the CEO felt. She was providing stellar information, and the host was all over the place. As a viewer, I felt empathy for the CEO and annoyed with the host.

The solution: The key to an effective Zoom interview is to demonstrate eye contact as much as possible, just as if you are in person. You must train yourself to look directly at the camera. This takes practice! The natural thing to do is to look at the video of your guest or even of yourself on the screen. Instead, you have to keep others in your peripheral view and focus your eyes on the little red light at the top of your screen.  You don’t have to maintain a blank stare: nod, tilt your head, even glance away momentarily to look at your notes or phone.


Throughout the interview, the host was leaning back in his office chair, rocking and chewing on a pen.

The impact: Viewers were distracted by the host’s movement which took the focus away from the guest. As the CEO was sharing important information about her company’s objectives and how they were tracking to achieve those goals, I found myself wondering if the interview realized he was on camera.

The solution:  Find a comfortable posture that focuses on the conversation. You don’t have to sit stiffly at attention in your chair, but you do need to demonstrate you’re conducting an interview. Monitor your body language to show you take the interview seriously. Pro-tip: One way to create a focused, lean in posture is to stand for a video session.  There are lots of adjustable desks, from self standing models to small desktop stands that can elevate your laptop or camera. Standing makes it feel more like you’re on stage. Aren’t you?


At a key point in the interview, the host’s adorable puppy wandered on screen. Guess what I kept waiting to see for the duration of the interview?

The impact: Viewers can be distracted by what they see in the background. If you want your audience to focus, then don’t give them reasons not to.

The solution: Yes, we all love dogs and cats and babies and clueless delivery persons. But while it might have been funny in the early days of remote working to watch everyone’s home life unfold in front of the camera, an interview does not afford the same informality. Close doors, put up DO NOT DISTURB signs—whatever it takes to keep your space quiet and undisturbed.

Need help preparing for a Zoom interview? Give us a call. We can help you practice to deliver interviews that get you lots of Likes and have your guests asking to come back.

I’ll have my communications with a side of empathy, please

What if employees could “order up” how they liked their engagement? What would they choose? The data below suggest that organizations might want to change up their “menu”:

    • 71% of employees don’t read or engage in company content or emails. Why? Because they get too much information that is not relevant to them.
    • 74% of employees reported in a Gallup survey that they have the feeling they are missing out on important information at work.

For all the efforts that go into internal communications, employees may not be getting what they want or wanting what they get.  How can you serve up communications that inform, inspire, and motivate employees—and help them feel engaged and in-the-know? A good first step is to start with the basics:

    • Know your audience: What do they want to know, which channels do they prefer, how often do they want to receive communications? All of these answers have likely shifted since remote work began in full force last year. Ask yourself what needs to change to meet their needs.
    • Make every word count: if you are communicating in writing, less is more. The more concise and clear communications are, the more likely employees will digest and understand what they are reading.
    • Measure the impact: the best way to know if communications are hitting the mark is to ask. Collect feedback through surveys or anecdotally to get reactions.  Allow employees to rank the usefulness of a communication, provide opportunities to leave comments, or talk with people to gauge reactions.

To capture the minds (and hearts!) of employees, take the extra step to demonstrate EMPATHY in your communications.  The more you acknowledge how they are feeling, and what they are dealing with, the stronger and better received your communications will become.  The last 15 months have been challenging and stressful as employees navigate the brave new work world.  Make sure that every communication comes with a healthy side order of empathy and you will boost the stats in your organization and engage your employees.


Agreeing to Disagree Doesn’t Go Far Enough

By: Molly Russin

If you’re like me, you’ve been surprised by how differently some of your friends and family members approached the pandemic. From I-don’t-leave-my-house, to Nobody-can-tell-me-what-to-do, to everyone in between, we’ve been exposed to a completely new side of folks we thought we knew. Even now, as we celebrate an almost-return to normal, there are lots of people who believe that it’s not safe to be around others without a mask—no matter what the CDC or local governments say. Although about 42% of Americans are fully vaccinated, one in four Americans have no intention of getting vaccinated.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how the people that we work with sometimes have radically different views than we do. We might be completely clueless until they “let us in” and then we have a choice: keep our mouths shut , agree to disagree  or we can listen and learn.

I once had a manager who shared that he would not hesitate to shoot an intruder. I always viewed him as a pretty low key guy and this declaration shocked me. Plus, he had young kids although proudly kept firearms in the home. This made me anxious.

Then there was the time I was sharing photos from my daughter’s wedding. One of the guys on my team looked at my beaming daughter and her wife and said “Where’s her husband?” I said, “She doesn’t have one.” He said, “I though you said she got married.” On and on it went until I practically had to shout, “She’s gay! There is no man in this picture!” He just said “Wow. That’s different.” And walked away. This made me angry.

One of my closest friends is a Black woman who tearfully admitted to me that she often felt like many of her coworkers looked down on her, no matter how well she performed her job. She felt like she was constantly being judged, from the way she wore her hair to the places she went on vacation. This made me sad.

Looking back, in all three cases, I wish that instead keeping my feelings to myself that I would have asked questions and tried to understand where the other person was coming from.

I’ve read countless articles about how the world of work will be permanently changed post-pandemic. Sure, we’ll see physical changes and scheduling changes and the like. Whether or not real change comes at work, however, will depend not on technology but on people–on each and every one of us and how well we are willing to drop our assumptions and really listen. Agree to disagree? OK. But I believe we have to go beyond that.

The truth is, we don’t get a vote in what other people believe or do. If a colleague talks about his love for guns, if someone shares that she believes in defunding the police, if a colleague of color admits to feeling unheard by team members, if someone admits that they are never going to get vaccinated…what will our response be? Since we all have 2 ears and one mouth, perhaps we have to try our best to listen and to learn.

What makes someone support the NRA? How can I help someone to understand the joy and freedom of gay marriage? How can I be a better ally to my colleagues of color? If I had started this kind of conversation—uncomfortable though it may have been, I think It would have expanded my perspective and understanding. And isn’t that what being a mature adult is all about?

What do you think? Leave your comments here!