macbook pro displaying group of people
We still will have days like these for as long as we can see the future. So use those common catch phrases to burn off some calories by tying exercises to certain trigger words. Photo by Chris Montgomery

Zoom conference call workouts – plus etiquette tips

I promised to continue my series on business etiquette with a guide to Zoom etiquette. But to add a fitness twist (and some fun), we’ll start by a fun way to work exercising into Zoom calls based on common trigger phrases (that are often Zoom faux pas) and what you can do to burn some extra caloiries without anyone being able to tell – even if you are on camera!

Common Zoom/Teams/Meet Expressions and Corresponding workout moves

You can do all of these movements standing, or sitting while on camera. It’s a fun way to stay active and make a day of back to back calls more interesting! I have also (tongue in cheek) added my take on the implied meanings of some of these phrases. You can do some of these with small 3-5 pound weights you keep by your desk, some water bottles, or no weight at all and just your body resistance.

ExpressionReal Meaning Workout Move
Sorry I was late, internet was slow/not workingI was dawdling and lost track of timeCalf raises
You’re on mute. You’re still on mute.Really, dude?Upright crunches
Sorry I was on muteI was multitasking and need to buy timeShoulder rolls
Can you see my screen?I hope I closed that buzzfeed quiz tabStanding lat squeeze
You’re breaking up.You’re the reason for my lost soulStanding hamstring curl
X, do you want to kick it off and I’ll chime inI will totally be able to chill while you do the heavy liftingTricep pulses
I have a hard stopI have a yoga classBicep curls
Can we move to the next slide, please?Try and keep up, slowpokeFigure 4 stretch
Can those not speaking please go on mute?We don’t need to hear you washing dishesUpright oblique twists
Let’s take this offlineLet’s not go down this rabbit holeArm circles

Zoom Etiquette tips

Get ready in the morning like you would for the office so you are not stuck in this quandary
  • Make sure you really need this call: If the same could be accomplished with one or two emails, consider at least doing that and using a call as a last resort. Especially if the issue does seem to have been resolved by email people would so appreciate having their time back to go get a coffee or whatever.
  • Be on time: Which means be early. You want to make sure you log into the Meet, Teams or Zoom meeting a few minutes early for several reasons. First, you want to make sure you can actually connect and that something like an update or a poor internet connection will not delay you. It’s a good idea to have all of these apps downloaded on your phone as a backup in case you do have an issue so that you can immediately pivot to joining from your phone or iPad. Also, you should make sure that your lighting and computer position are appropriate, your sound is enabled, and that you are not double muted.
  • Don’t assume everyone knows each other: It can get super awkward when not everyone knows one another yet are expected to engage on a common objective. If you are the host just say at the top of the call “Does everyone know each other” and if not do brief introductions by calling on people clockwise from where you are.
  • Dress like you would for the office: If you have more of a casual dress code in the office, then by all means, keep that at your home office. But if it’s business casual or more formal, then you should follow suit for virtual work meetings. No baseball caps or messy buns.
  • Background: Try to position your camera away from a window, especially where you are sitting with your back to a window, because sunlight will definitely create darkness around you. Also, make sure your background is presentable and tidy, not seated in front of a bed or a messy pile of clothes, and that you blur your background if you expect kids or other family members to be roaming around. Also, ideally not in front of a bed. And definitely not in front of an unmade bed!
  • Start with non-work talk: Start every conversation, especially one on one conversations, with asking the other person how they are doing, how their weekend was, or making other small talk. Establishing a rapport and maintaining team morale is more challenging now that we have a more virtual work environment. By expressing interest about another person you are showing that you value them as a colleague and are not just cutting to the chase of the task at hand.
  •  Always be super vigilant of the mute button. Make sure you mute hwne you are not speaking and that you are unmuted before you begin to speak. Failing to really watch that button can result in you becoming a meme.
  • If you need to move around, turn off the camera – avoid takiing it with you just to stay on video. It’s distracting to watch someone in motion on camera. If it is a small group of five people or less and you do need to get up for a bio break or drink of water, turn off your camera and excuse yourself. If you don’t want to interrupt the flow of the conversation just enter a message in the group chat.  
  • The general consensus on the interwebs is to avoid eating, drinking, or vaping while on camera (sipping on water or coffee is ok). This is esspecially for smaller group calls, because everything is laser-focused on your face. Try to follow the same rules you would if you were meeting in person.
  • Body language cues are even more important in Zoom settings. In video chatting means we lose a lot of the social and visual cues of in-person conversations, like someone leaning forward who wants to chime in with their thoughts. To actively listen and show that you’re engaged, you should nod and smile as someone is talking. 
  • Avoid multitasking. This means don’t look at your phone, or try to read or write emails. One, because it’s totally disrespectful. Two, because it’s totally obvious when you are doing this and potentially damaging to your reputation. And three, because both activities will suffer – you probably will make some kind of careless error and you will lose context of what is going on in the call and get absolutely nothing out of being there. Put your phone out of reach, and close all your other tabs. There is nothing worse than hearing the sound of someone clacking away who forgot to mute themselves.
  • Maintain eye contact with the speakers, not with yourself on camera. It’s tempting, but don’t do this, and again, it’s totally obvious. If you need to avoid the distraction, choose speaker view (which enlarges the person who is actively speaking) and hide self view).
  • The whole wave or don’t wave goodbye thing Err on the side of being polite especially when you are exiting the call early. We have so little ways to do social connecting that a small wave goodbye can go a long way though no need for a super grand gesture.

See also

10 magic phrases to use on Zoom calls so people will like you even more

Zoom etiquette: 6 ways to be more courteous on Zoom calls

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