2021 is not going to be 2019 “normal” any more than 2020 was. A third of employees may still be working from home at least a substantial part of the time, and there will still be restrictions from time to time and place to place on travel and on meetings of groups, even small groups, and even for social gatherings.

Virtual meetings will continue to be, if not the norm, at least frequent and daily commonplace events. People will still have a lot of concerns and questions about using Zoom and other conference software for delivery of instruction. You’re On Mute: 101 Tips To Add Zip To Your Zoom distills answers to many of those questions.

You're On Mute will help online instructors and online learners master training delivery in whatever turns out to be "normal". It also covers categories and contexts ranging from “the basics”, to social situations: family holiday calls, dating, and quizzes done for fun. A few of the tips are a bit silly but most offer common sense and good humor, with sound advice updated to the 21st century and the virtual world.

How to do virtual right

Some of the tips deal with awkward situations, providing a kind of grace that an embarrassed person might not be able to come up with off the cuff. Quite a few of the tips offer the modern version of etiquette. You’re On Mute is not a textbook for teaching good manners, it is more like answers to questions you didn’t know you had—until you were in front of your webcam with five or 10 co-workers, or possibly several hundred strangers you can’t see, watching your every move and judging you.

Read this book before you find yourself in front of that camera. If you have training instructors and facilitators, have them read it too. Make virtual life and video calls easier on yourself, and on others too.

Tips to bring your "A" game online

A few people have already figured out some of these tips, but not everyone has or will. In some cases it would be a good idea to include relevant tips as part of onboarding new employees if yours is an organization that does a lot of virtual meetings.

Some of the tips should be obvious:

  • If working from home, make everything within the view is as clean and professional as possible.
  • Clothing is not optional (be sure that significant others in your home know this).
  • Remember to mute when you are not speaking, and to un-mute when you are.
  • Never take a conference call in the toilet (you’d think that goes without saying, but apparently it isn't).

If we go by the experience of actual virtual conference sessions, some of the tips do not seem to be so obvious:

  • Natural light coming through a window makes great illumination, but not if it is behind you.
  • Eye contact is essential.
  • Give people a break between virtual meetings.
  • Basic etiquette matters even in a virtual world.

Sixty of the tips apply directly to the use of conferencing apps in business settings, whether the app is Zoom, Teams, WebEx, or others. I think you will find this book useful, informative, and entertaining. It is also a great resource if you want to design a virtual meeting Bingo card (might as well have fun with this).


Hoare, Jo (2020)You’re On Mute: 101 Tips to Add Zip To Your Zoom. London, Ivy Press. 97 pages