In the olden days when we had conference rooms and used them, the coffee cup that was popular and appeared often declared, “This Meeting Could Have Been an Email.” Some cups had the same message full of F-Bombs and other expletives. A variation on that message may soon be showing up on small screens around the world with the sentiment, “This Zoom Meeting Could Have Been an Email”.
Don’t get me wrong. Zoom and other videoconferencing services are saving the day. Without this technology life in any organization would grind to a complete halt. We are all figuring out how to best use videoconferencing to be effective and efficient. But maybe the best way to use Zoom is to not use it. Maybe every single activity doesn’t need to be a Zoom meeting. Maybe an email, a text or, work with me on this, maybe a telephone call would achieve the same result.
We are all seeing some pretty bored people on Zoom meetings. We text each other about Jake, who is asleep on the call; or Megan who is doing email instead of paying attention. When someone says, “Sorry, I was on MUTE, could you repeat the question.” What they really might be saying is, “I wasn’t paying attention because it was so boring and have no idea what you were talking about but I can catch up quickly because nothing gets done on these calls.”
Videoconferencing is one of the greatest tools brought into the organizational world. Ever. In the days of COVID-19 it can be used for real communications, for team building, and to keep things moving in the right way. It is never to be taken for granted. It is a miracle. But it may not be useful if used all day every day.
Zoom is becoming a name for any videoconference capability regardless of the vendor. It has taken on a life of it’s own like Kleenex or Xerox. Zoom is now a verb like Google. We are now using the technology for cocktail hours, family reunions, weddings, funerals and it is proving to be a pretty good substitute. Let’s just not substitute ineffective meetings with ineffective Zoom calls.
When this crisis is over we will continue to use videoconferencing in more ways than we can imagine as the tool for which it was designed. Until we learn all the effective ways to use Zoom, I am waiting to see that first coffee cup on video that sends the message that this could have been an email.