The Zooming Bunch

The 9-way split screen with characters of the Brady Bunch in each, from the opening segment

Do you Zoom? Or perhaps use a Zoom-like app that brings a group of people together in Brady-Bunch-intro style windows? I had no idea I’d use it as much as I do, since I’m self-employed and have no staff of my own. (Miss Sugar would say I am HER staff.)

However, I’m mentoring a young lad in voice-over work via Zoom. Clients sometimes want to meet that way. I conduct interviews for Hometown Strathroy-Caradoc magazine via Zoom. Derek and I even watched our ridiculously talented niece Molly perform in a Midsummer Night’s Dream via Zoom. I’ve become quite familiar with it.

There’s a question of Zoom etiquette, however. It’s more than an unaware husband running naked past the camera lens. (Not my husband, mind you!) Or even a disorganized background. The question people are asking is, should you eat during a Zoom call?

My initial response is, no way! The last thing I want to see is someone’s gaping pie hole. Even if they’re on mute, it seems like it would be distracting. And then I thought, what if it’s the person’s short lunch break and they won’t get to eat otherwise? I am in control of my Zoom meet-ups. Not everyone has that luxury.

When I was co-anchoring the morning news on 680 News, Paul and I would graze during commercials and reports. We used to laugh at how much and how often we ate, but it was just little bits and bites of things. I would make a “raw carrot warning” and try to keep my crunching to a minimum. (I failed, I’m sure.) We had apple slices and dry cereal and other snacks, along with vats of strong coffee, to keep us energized.

And I think that’s the answer. When I grazed, I didn’t graze alone. Paul grazed. Our technical producer grazed. We grazed when we could. I think it should be the same for Zoom: read the room. Even if you’re muted when you pull up a bowl of soup you won’t look engaged.

And while we’re on the subject of how you look, what’s the deal with the hair? My hair looks perfectly fine in the mirror. I get on Zoom and it’s like I just rolled out of bed. Or a ditch. And everyone else has just stepped out of a salon. But, I digress.

It seems to me that if you ask whether it’s okay to eat, people will say yes to be polite even if they want to say no.

If I don’t keep my blood sugar stable, I go into hypoglycemia quicker than most people and it’s a horrible feeling. I understand needing to eat. But it’s distracting for others who aren’t eating.

If I really had to, I’d turn off my camera, set my mic to mute, and chew away. I’d let everyone know I’d be listening and still involved. How would you handle it?

7 thoughts on “The Zooming Bunch”

  1. Sigh. No eating. I’ll indulge in a coffee and often wonder if that’s appropriate….
    I even ask Rob not to walk down the hall behind me as it looks like someone’s “wandering through the shot” (don’t ask – I’m nuts and yeah, he meanders). Fears of ageism still loom, I’m afraid…in every meeting.
    But I’m perplexed by the need to have every. single. meeting. on Zoom. I don’t show up without hair/makeup and it’s both time-consuming and quite out of tune with the whole “work from home” vibe. The fact I’m meeting with 20-and-30 somethings undoubtedly has a lot to do with it; they have a certain natural youth and beauty, of which I only ever once possessed the former. Just a conference call used to be so simple but I guess Zoom is more economical for many. It’s just, as I say, a lot. First world, 21st century problems, I know…but you did give me something to chew on!

  2. If you need to eat during a Zoom, maybe a protein shake is an option. That way you’d be in keeping with those who are drinking their water, tea and coffee.

  3. Naturally I will have a slightly different view on this being blind. Would you drink a coffee during a phone call? yes. confrence call, Yes. Bring it to an in person afternoon meeting, Yes. Then during Zoom it’s okay. Would you snack during a in person meeting, yes. You appologies explaining why and proceed. Want my attendance at the meeting, well your just going to have to deal with the coffee and snacks on occasion. Lisa, pick up some of those meal replacement drinks like Ensure which should do the trick.

  4. Personally I always have something to drink at my desk whether I’m Zooming or not. I don’t have enough hair to worry about what it looks like on the screen, so good there! If I do eat anything, I’m just grazing through a bowl with different berries in it so it seems unobtrusive. I also think that if a family member happens to come into the shot that’s fine. It happens all the time these days. There’s enough crap going on in our world that being a ton more casual when on these online meetings just makes sense.

  5. I have had to eat during meetings. I conference with Europeans almost every day and they schedule early meetings because it is their afternoon and they want to get their meetings out of the way so they can go home. These early meetings often occur when I am trying to eat breakfast. As you noted, I also mute and turn off the camera and try to keep the mouthfuls on the lighter side so I can speak when necessary.

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