Leave it to a bored adolescent to come up with one of the most ingenious ways to appear “present” in a Zoom chat I’ve ever seen—especially if the chat is on the larger side and someone isn’t paying much attention to your webcam in the grid view.
Now that we’re in week who-knows-what of the quarantine for most people, I feel like most of us would rather do just about anything else than suffer another videoconference. I get their importance, I do, but sometimes you just need a break. Or maybe it just looks stunning outside and your body is demanding you go on a walk instead of sit in front of your laptop for your fourth hour-long presentation of the day.
Whatever the reason, borrow a page from this fourth-grader’s book (courtesy of Reddit). If you want to skip out on a Zoom meeting, or at least give the impression that connection difficulties are making it impossible for you to attend, do two things. First, get your fingers positioned over the ALT + V and ALT + A keys to turn off your webcam and audio, respectively. (Command + Shift + V and Command + Shift + A on your Mac.)
Then, right-click on yourself and select “Rename,” if it’s available. Once you’re ready to “depart” the meeting, replace your name with “Reconnecting…” but don’t click OK just yet. Hit ALT + V and then ALT + A to drop your video and audio, and then click on OK to change your name. With luck, it’ll all appear pretty seamless—your mic and webcam suddenly cut out, and you’re now struggling to “reconnect” with great difficulty.
Is this going to fool everyone? Absolutely not. I would save this trick for when you have a pretty good belief that the person running the Zoom meeting, as well as the people participating, don’t understand the technology that well. (If you were truly having connection issues, you’d stay in the Zoom meeting, but your webcam video would be frozen in time. There wouldn’t be any kind of “connecting…” or “reconnecting…” note over your frozen face.)
Eventually, your disconnected self will drop out of the meeting. So, if someone knows these details, your “Reconnecting…” trick might not work. You could always do a one-two punch: drop the “Reconnecting…” spoof, wait a few minutes, then leave the meeting entirely. When asked later, say that you were struggling with your wifi or something.
I mean, this is all a decent amount of effort to bail on a meeting, but it at least requires less effort than making a looping video of yourself watching a fake meeting. I love the hilarity of it, but you have to get it just right to be believable. And what if someone calls on you with a question?