Recently I was in a breakout room with someone who I had known since the first lockdown. Usually, she was great to spend time with: upbeat, knowledgeable in her field and not pushy. Today it was different, she obviously had to get something off her chest. It seems that, in the main room, someone was eating while being on camera, and she was irate!
My understanding of what was being said was that she thought this was unprofessional and disrespectful since, she said, whilst concentrating on eating, full attention was not being given to whatever was being said. Also, part of the problem was how close we are when we are meeting via a screen rather than when in a face-to-face meeting. Suffice to say once she had her say, she calmed down and became the upbeat, knowledgeable-in-her-field and not-pushy person I had known so far.
Now, I hadn’t seen the person eating, but her strong response got me thinking:
- First, is eating during virtual meetings acceptable?
- Next, if no, what is acceptable to consume?
- And finally, the issue of people multi-tasking during meetings.
So, let’s look at each issue a bit more.
Is eating during virtual meetings acceptable?
Well, I’d rather not watch someone eating, and some people, I think, forget they are not sat on their own in their dining room. They shovel it in, munch away and keep inspecting whatever food is left in their hand. I don’t really like it and I do think it looks unprofessional. After all, how many meetings do you go to with potential customers where you eat your toast during the meeting? I don’t feel very strongly, but I would rather not see it in a virtual meeting. Furthermore, there’s no travelling time, so this saved time could be used to have the food before the meeting.
If eating is not acceptable, then is anything acceptable?
Now, I must admit to a challenge I have. I drink cappuccinos and, when I do, I have to stop myself from licking the spoon. There. It’s said, I’m working on it and trying my best. Phew! That’s better now it’s in the open. Anyway, from that you can see that I think it’s OK to drink non-alcoholic drinks during a virtual meeting—but from a glass, cup or receptacle that has been produced for drinking from. Not, as I saw once, drinking from the container it was bought in.
Multi-tasking during meetings
My contact was in part annoyed because she thought if people are eating, they are not concentrating on what is being said. I agree, and if you want to know more about this go to: https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=154
What do you think?
(And, in case you are saying, “Don’t ebn meet over breakfast?” Yes, we do, and we stop any kind of presenting while we all eat breakfast and chat to our neighbours, and we sit further apart than we do when we meet virtually.)
If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html
Have fun, stay safe.