There has been much talk over the last year of ‘Zoom exhaustion’ and how people are craving face to face meetings.
But there is also a huge benefit that comes along with video conferencing that hasn’t really been discussed — and that is that it is a great ‘leveller’.
It reduces the differences between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, and provides a great opportunity.
Zoom meetings really come down to faces and voices. We now know we can blur out the background or add a virtual green screen, so the early discussions around it being ‘intrusive’ or ‘distracting’ to see the background room has been removed. Now it’s just down to how you present yourself and what you say.
Most people care more about what comes out of someone’s mouth more than how they look or what they are wearing anyway, but with Zoom it’s almost impossible to tell anything below chest height. We’ve all joked about wearing sweatpants and ugg boots with a shirt and jacket but it’s true, and because you can’t see much more than people’s faces, it’s leveled the playing field for many people.
It means that fancy clothing, cars and accessories no longer impress. That whether you have high heels or are in a wheelchair doesn’t matter. If you are living in a rural area or the city, who cares?! Whether you have a big glamorous house, or a small studio flat, we are all the same on Zoom.
Just a little square with a face.
Over the last 18 months I have been hosting an online lunch for female founders every Friday, through my business, She’s The Boss. I started it because of the lockdowns and the strong need for connection, but that’s not really the reason it has continued for so long.
It’s because it has made business and social networking easy and accessible for the female founders that are disabled; those in tiny rural towns dotted around Australia; for those that are immune-compromised and those that are introverted and don’t find it comfortable to walk into a room full of strangers.
For instance, one of the women that comes every week to the She’s The Boss Zoom lunch is in a wheelchair. Lisa Cox is an Instagram influencer, model and is on a mission to make disability more visible in the media, but she can’t get out of the house easily, so to be able to attend Zoom lunches and meetings is a true game changer for her.
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And of course, the most obvious benefit is that it has a complete disregard for the tyranny of distance. You can get anywhere on Zoom, from the comfort of your home (and even your bed if need be!). Most of us have now had conversations online with people in a different town, state or even country. The traditional barriers to connection disappear completely.
Cheree Stokes is an indigenous artist who lives in rural NSW. She loves that Zoom makes it easy to meet, and connect with other women, without having to make the long trek into the city for networking and business opportunities.
Another woman that springs to mind is Jenn Donovan, founder of Buy From a Bush Business on Facebook and a social media and marketing expert. Jenn often says the online lunches every week have afforded her an opportunity she wouldn’t otherwise have. Instead of having to plan ahead for a 5 hour drive (one way) and book accommodation for a night away if she wants to attend a networking event in Melbourne, instead she can go to the shed/office in her garden and get to know women from all over the country!
And it doesn’t have to be about Zoom. It could be FaceTime, Google Meet, WhatsApp or any number of other video conferencing applications. It doesn’t matter, the benefits are the same: it’s a great equaliser. We can reach anyone, anywhere, without judging them on their material possessions, and it’s easy!
So the next time you find yourself sighing because of another Zoom meeting, or reluctant to meet online, think about the benefits it offers others. Put on your smile and realise that it is opening up opportunities for you to speak to people who you just may not meet otherwise.
It offers no judgement and makes us all the same.