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Meeting by Phone or Video?

Phone or Video Conference Confusion

Often we are left wondering, “Are we meeting by phone call or video?” Ambiguous invitations beget calendar confusion. Colleagues reserve time on my calendar and provide a phone number where they can be reached. Instructions for Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet are not mentioned anywhere. Yet all too frequently, I get sent a Zoom Invite minutes before our meeting — informing me our call is actually a video conference. So, I have learned to double-check. I do that to avoid a last-minute rush to throw on proper clothes and makeup to look halfway presentable.

When we work remotely, most of us dress casually — we wear sweat pants or, if we’re really feeling special, jeans. Some may not wear pants at all. In fact, Alka-Seltzer created a TV commercial designed to put the fear of God into anyone who is significantly underdressed during a video call.

Alka-Seltzer Plus Maximum Strength Cough & Mucus DM TV Spot, ‘Meeting’ –

Phone or Video Meeting Confusion

When we work from home, it is safe to assume we’re not camera-ready. Not by a long shot. We’re better suited for phone calls. When we have to hop on a video conferences, if it is allowed, we keep the camera off.

For more startup work environments, wearing office casual on video calls is no big deal. In fact, looking like you pulled an all-nighter helps demonstrate your commitment. Early-stage startups are used to their workers falling asleep, face-first into their pizzas. So no makeup is actually a better look than food stuck to one’s face. But for more polished corporate environments, when we work from home, we’re usually not dressed the part.

That is why I urge anyone sending a calendar invitation for a conversation to clearly state whether you’re seeking a voice call or whether you want to see me when we talk.

When you don’t spell it out, well, chaos ensues.

All Dressed Up, No Place to Go

There are times I’ve dressed up for conference calls when no one turned on their cameras. Everyone on the call dialed in. Every single person.

They all used phones.

My casual home office attire would have been just fine, but no. The calendar invite was ambiguous. As a result, I was all dressed up with virtually no place to go.

Fashion Fire Drill

Worse are the scheduled calls that — surprise! — become last-minute video conferences on Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Of course, for those of us who do not roll out of bed camera-ready, that now minutes-away meeting sets off a frantic fashion fire drill.

I sprint upstairs; throw on a blazer; take my hair out of the ponytail atop my head; slap on some foundation and lipstick, and relocate my laptop to a table with a decent background and lighting.

Thankfully, Zoom filters can eliminate the need for make-up. Microsoft Teams just introduced a couple of appearance-enhancing filters in April of this year. Google Meet? Their engineering culture believes in keeping it real, apparently. So if you want a filter to look better, you might want to try the Chrome extension, Visual Effects for Google Meet.

Getting TikTok Real

Lately, I have noticed an encouraging trend. Increasingly, a growing number of colleagues are showing up as themselves. They drop the facade and take a TikTok approach to video meetings. You get to know the many version of themselves whenever you tune in. (It’s kind of nice, actually.) Sometimes they’ve pulled together a chic fashion look. Sometimes, they show up in workout gear. Sometimes, they just show up. You get what you get. There is something to be said for embracing that which makes us human.

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Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford

Krista Bradford is CEO of the retained executive search firm The Good Search and of its research division Intellerati. A former award-winning television journalist and investigative reporter, Ms. Bradford now pursues truth, justice, and great talent in the executive suite.View Author posts

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