Remember how email introductions used to work?
You would introduce two people by email, and then find yourself on a 20-message back-and-forth as they worked to schedule their meeting. Then we all collectively learned how to do this: you have introduced Janet to Kareem, and Janet replies, “Thanks so much for the introduction Sasha. Moving you to bcc:”
Janet and Kareem can then get on with their (hopefully useful to both of them) conversation.
Two things are going on here:
- There is standard, expected language for how to handle this sort of introduction.
- It is culturally acceptable to bcc: someone in this situation, a shift from “is it rude to drop this person from the thread?” to “it would be rude to include this person on all the follow-up emails.”
While Zoom has been a lifesaver during this pandemic, we’re still in the early days of learning how to navigate it: sound, connectivity, breakout groups, who speaks when and how, backgrounds, etc…
Our Zoom cultural norms are in their infancy.
I propose we create the Zoom bcc.
It’s for situations in which it’s clear that a meeting has too many people. Two or three people are having the entire conversation, and everyone else is just listening in.
Right now, no one knows how to handle this.
The people listening in end up choosing between:
- Staying focused and really listening (rare); or
- Doing some other simultaneous activity while pretending to be present in the meeting.
These are both bad options. Most people struggle to stay focused in an hour-long Zoom meeting if they don’t need to be there. They end up multi-tasking, an ineffective use of their time and a distraction to everyone else.
Instead, it could become culturally acceptable to drop a short note into the chat that reads,
“Glad you guys are having a great conversation. I’m looking forward to hearing the update, and I’m going to drop off now.”
The people who need to talk get to talk, the people who are less active have a choice about how to manage the situation: stay, and be fully present; or leave in a way that is understood to be both appropriate and professional.