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Re-Write: Screened Out!


"Live is Life." -- Opus (Austrian band), 1985

How I miss the "Live House." On stage or in the audience, nothing compares to packed rooms, Marshall amps, and high fives. Coming in a distant second: Watching Shine a Light, Bohemian Rhapsody, or Ray. Or a music video. Before editing today, I watched the original Opus music video, Live is Life, Europe's Number 1 song, summer 1985. A corny video for sure, and accurate too: Live music is transformative.


I turn to the screen for a break from....the screen. In basketball, you set a screen to block out a defender. It's a tough move. You can be called for a foul or get seriously injured setting or running into a screen. It's no fun being screened out in basketball. And it's no fun in business, either: Now we're all "screened out."


I noticed this after facilitating a New Member Orientation for the American Chamber of Commerce (ACCJ). There were just a handful of us there, unlike many video meetings. Still, I felt my frustration rise. Why?


First, while I've led hundreds of orientations in the ACCJ boardroom, this was only my second over Zoom. The previous one was over lunch. This one started at 18:30. One member had been on Zoom since 7:30 AM. Despite her apology for "losing her voice," she was fully engaged. Thank you!


I used to love New Member Orientations. But it's one thing to breeze over to the ACCJ, mingle with new members, share cocktails, deliver a presentation, and then walk to BAUHAUS and rock out before heading home. Quite another gearing up for one more session of what Psychology Today calls "high-intensity virtual connecting."


A video meeting can be more enjoyable for everyone when we realize that each of our contributions makes a difference. We have yet to work out the etiquette norms but here are a few suggestions to make your next meeting better:


1) Engage. Meeting leaders are working harder than they do in person. Their "bandwidth" is stretched: monitoring participants, checking who's muted, fussing with slides, straining to hear. You can reduce their burden by engaging positively, asking good questions, and helping drive the call toward its goal. That said,


2) Be concise. Please! Some act as if they've taken the karaoke mic, and they speak for the length of a song. That's 3 minutes too long. A 30-second comment or question is generally the sweet spot.


3) ENERGIZE! Energy is contagious. These days, we're all tired of something. Maybe the same thing. But in a video meeting, you can bring the energy UP. Your tone of voice, your posture–try standing up!–your comments, all of these can and will make a difference, for yourself and for everyone else.


If you need a break, and you have 5 minutes, enjoy Opus right now or right before your next video meeting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pATX-lV0VFk . And here's the song performed live in 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLWfeGw_Nsg. Watch, listen, sing and dance, right now and before your next video meeting. What have you got to lose but the Zoom blues?


"Live is life!"

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