Use a Simple Countdown for Your Next Virtual Meeting or Hangout

Use a Simple Countdown for Your Next Virtual Meeting or Hangout
Screenshot: David Murphy
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The etiquette of virtual hangouts always keeps me on my toes. If I’m the host of a Zoom meeting, for example, I find it’s best to sign on early in case anyone else wants to sign on early. But then I have to actually pay attention to my screen so it’s not just a photo of my empty room. In other words, I don’t want to be rude, which means I have to bump back my own get-ready time — the pre-meeting ritual of refiling my beverage, grabbing a snack, and possibly even a bio break (not in that order).

Though the hack is tiny, I recently stumbled across the website Live Curtain and I absolutely love it. Its premise is simple: You enter a message, a time, and pick a colour theme. A countdown timer pops up on your screen. That’s it. There’s no alarm sound at the end or any other indicator to alert everyone that time has expired and the show/hangout/meeting will start. It’s just a simple timer on a simple website.

So, if you want to hop into a virtual hangout or meeting 10 minutes early, but you don’t want to deal with entertaining the early arrivers, simply screen-share this website. People will know that the meeting will happen; they’re just early. And if you want to give them any pre-meeting reminders via the message you display on your shared screen, even better.

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My only gripe is that your message appears in one line; you can’t give your friends or colleagues a complicated itinerary of activities. But that’s fine. I suppose if you need that much help, you can always just share your entire screen with a Google Doc in one corner and the countdown timer in another. The simple possibilities are endless.

(That said, I wouldn’t mind an annoying air-horn version, either.)

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