The Handbook
The Handbook

Corporate Darwinism was never so stark as in the video conference call. Almost unknown a few weeks ago, the daily Zoom call is now ubiquitous. It’s a chance to shine, or to sink in front of your team or office. Here are some tips for totally bossing the conference call.

1 – Set the scene

Gordon Gekko wouldn’t huddle on the sofa, stuck to last night’s pizza box next to a clothes horse festooned in greying bras and tangled tights. Nor should you.

Instead set a scene that’s going to impress. Rather than your dingy Dagenham basement flat you want to project Downton.

If you can’t adequately create the illusion of mile-high ceilings and roaring fireplaces perhaps enroll a partner to play a subservient maid or manservant delivering drinks and the occasional telegram throughout your conference call.

Just my front room...
Conference call chic...

2 – Dress to impress

The online medium invites loungewear and every instinct will gravitate to jogging bottoms. But resist the elasticated waistline and instead try and ensure you’re the best dressed person on the call, it’ll intimidate the others and you’ll feel a million dollars.

You might not have much to actually say but everyone will recall that you were rocking the black tie ballroom look. Alternatively a huge wide-brimmed Philip Treacy hat will allow you to wow your colleagues and simultaneously cover your eyes to claim back some much needed sleep.

3 – Or don’t…

Of course the ultimate alpha-dog move would be to brazenly attend the meeting fully topless, randomly chest-beating when someone makes a point, before segueing into the daily sales figures. Nobody will dare bring it up, you’ll have owned the lot of them…

4 – Be Heard!

This is no place for timidly clearing your throat before making an anodyne comment, this is survival of the loudest. The group format, where a cacophonous wall of faces talk over each other is not particularly introvert-friendly, nevertheless you need to steam roller your way into the conversation, normal rules of politeness don’t apply…

If in doubt wait for someone to say something half-intelligent and then repeat it louder and more forcefully in your own words.

Ahem...
Spiderman dialling in...

5 – Children Be Banished!

Children should be seen and not heard. Except they shouldn’t be seen either. You’re in a serious meeting to discuss pivoting the business to a new strategy and Alison’s kids are playing soldiers in the background. Rather than suffer a fifteen minute rendering of the Saving Private Ryan opening scene, perhaps suggest reenacting Shawshank Redemption instead, locking them in the box room for the duration of the call.

6 – Unless they’re a prop..

If you’re struggling to gain an ascendance in the dog-eat-dog Zoom world, then pull out your trump card. A well trained toddler or a chubby baby will automatically switch all the attention onto you.

Bounce your bonnie blob on your knee before saying something half interesting and you’ll own the rest of the meeting.

The ultimate trump card...

7 – Buffering!

Pro-tip: When the meeting becomes interminably intolerable just keep saying ‘it’s buffering, it’s buffering’ for about five to ten seconds, before slyly selecting ‘End meeting’. Everyone will assume that you had tech issues and will commiserate, and now you’ve bought enough time for a quick shower.

8 – Then write up the minutes exactly as you wanted it to go anyway

Large scale meetings are generally unhelpful ways to make decisions and the Zoom element heightens this to a new level. Basically you’ll get to the end of a 45 minute slog and realise that very little was actually achieved, and nobody even mentioned that you’re topless.

Even if you managed to get going in fewer than 20 minutes while everyone struggles to somehow hack into the Zoom call, the chances are that you didn’t come to any firm conclusions by the end of it.

Which is fine. You can just write up the minutes and circulate them, and nobody will be any the wiser…